Project Guide

How to Tarp a Roof

Assess the Damage
a roof with damage to the shingles in multiple areas

Before you begin the roof tarp installation, you must fully examine the damage and clear the area of debris. 

  • Wear the appropriate safety equipment, including gloves, goggles, protective clothing and sturdy boots.
  • Use a ladder to reach your roof. Closely examine the area for broken shingles and other areas of damage. 
  • Homeowners with a steep or slippery roof should assess the damage from the safety of their ladder. Do not step directly onto the roof.
  • Carefully clean the debris from your roof using your broom. Removing the branches, leaves and other rubble will give you a clearer view of the damage.

Tip: Ask a friend to help you examine, clean and tarp your roof for additional safety and support.

Measure the Area
two people using a laser distance measure to measure a roof

Correctly measure the damaged area to buy the right size tarp.

  • Use a measuring tool to calculate the surface area of the damage. 
  • Make note of your measurements and choose a heavy-duty tarp in the appropriate size.
  • When unrolled, the tarp must cover the damaged area and offer four feet of overhang from the roof’s peak. 
  • Any extra tarp can hang safely off the edge.
Prepare and Position the Tarp
two people covering a roof with a large piece of tarp

Ensure your tarp is properly positioned and weighed down with 2 x 4 wooden planks before securing it to your roof. Your tarp must be fully sandwiched, so it won’t come loose in windy or stormy conditions.

  • Partially unroll your tarp to cover the damaged area from the roof’s eaves to peak. There should be an additional 4 feet of tarp on every side.
  • Create an anchor board by rolling the tarp's peak end with a 2- x 4-inch board, and nailing the tarp to your board with your 3 ¼-inch nails. The board must be 2 feet longer than the tarp's width and it should sit against the roof to avoid the collection of rainwater, snow or debris. Fix this board to your roof using a screw as a temporary anchor.
  • Sandwich the tarp by nailing a second 2 x 4 board to the first. This step ensures the tarp stays taut and fully protective.
  • Repeat the two steps above three times for the tarp’s remaining peak ends.
  • Finally, position the sandwiched tarp across the ridge and down the roof's side, while making sure it runs along the eaves’ line.

Safety tip: Do not position, prepare or secure your tarp without help; this is a two-person job. Additionally, complete this project when the weather is mild, and never stand or step on your tarp as it may be slippery.

Secure the Tarp
a man securing a tarp to a section of a roof

 Fully secure your roof tarp to prevent flapping. This will prevent water and debris from entering the damaged area. 

  • To begin securing the tarp, screw through the rolled 2 x 4 boards with your screw gun. The screws must pass securely into the roof.
  • Secure the tarp’s remaining sides with additional 2 x 4 boards using your screw gun and screws. These boards do not need to be rolled in the tarp.
  • All edges of your tarp must be secured. Otherwise, your tarp won’t effectively prevent further damage to your home.