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How to Tarp a Roof: A Step-by-Step Guide

Whether you notice the beginnings of a roof leak, are making an addition to your home or your roof has suffered storm damage, tarping the roof can help prevent water damage from a leaking roof. Emergency roof tarping is a short-term repair you can make while waiting for a roofing contractor to repair the damage. It doesn’t take much water to lead to rot, mold, or mildew in your house, so proper tarping technique is crucial to saving you money on repairs. For more expert advice on how to frame a roof, how to build a porch roof, how to build a lean-to roof, and more, head over to our blog!

If there’s more inclement weather on the horizon, you’ll need to get your roof tarped as soon as possible to protect your home from further damage. And even in sunny places like San Diego, sudden rain can catch you by surprise no matter how closely you watch the weather forecast. 

So, how do you tarp a roof?

1. Safety first

Roofing is one of the most hazardous challenges for a homeowner, and it’s more often than not, a professional roofer should perform it. You should avoid walking on steep or slippery roofing material without safety harnesses and toe boards in place, and you should always wear rubber-soled boots. You will need a helmet, gloves, and safety goggles to protect yourself. 

You’ll also need a sturdy non-slip ladder and a spotter to reach the damaged area, and a second person to help get things in place. 

2. Assess the damage

You’ll need to get an accurate picture of how much damage is done before you purchase supplies. Climb up to the edge of your roof using your ladder. Clear any debris from the surface of the roof using a broom or a plastic rake. If you have shingles, make sure you only pull the broom or rake towards you. If you have a large hole in your roof, you’ll want to cover it using screws and a plywood board before you tarp your roof to prevent water pooling on the tarp.  

3. Measure Carefully 

Use a tape measure to determine the surface area at risk of leaking. Keep an eye out for any damaged or missing shingles, and include those areas in your measurements. You’ll need a heavy duty tarp that’s large enough to cover the damage with 4’ of overhang, a stock of 2x4s, an electric screwdriver, a hammer, wood screws, and cap nails to keep things in place. The 2x4s should be about 2’ longer than your top.

4. Anchor the tarp

Spread the tarp over the damaged area and weigh it down with 2x4s. One of the boards can be placed as an anchor, starting from the end of the tarp nearest to the roof’s peak. If the tarp will be covering part of the peak of the roof, you won’t be able to screw the boards in place along the ridge. Instead, you can use two smaller anchor boards and leave a space around the peak of the roof. 

Screw the anchor board in place underneath the tarp and directly to the roof’s surface using a single screw, to begin with. Next, sandwich the tarp in between a second board, and nail the boards together. Roll the excess tarp around the 2x4s to help it stay watertight and secure the tarp. Repeat this step along all the tarp edges, making sure the tarp is taut and fully sandwiched between the boards.

5. Secure the tarp

Once the boards are all in place, use your screwdriver to skew the boards in place. There should be some extra tarp hanging over your roof. Place an additional 2×4 under the edge of your roof, and secure the excess roof tarp to the 2×4 to prevent any water from blowing underneath the tarp.

6. Call in the professionals

Emergency roof tarping can protect your home from bad weather for up to 90 days while you wait for professional repair. However, it’s often best left to the professionals because it’s a risky job, especially if you don’t have the proper tools and safety equipment. Even an experienced roofer can sometimes damage a tile roof or asphalt shingles by taking the wrong step, but they have the skill and experience to correct common mistakes and the insurance to back it up. Amateurs are very likely to do as much harm as good with DIY roof repair, and homeowner’s insurance likely won’t cover the damage you cause if you aren’t hiring a professional.

Preman Roofing Solar is a San Diego roofing company that offers free estimates on roof repair, and we can tarp your roof to protect it while you wait for your repair service. We have over 20 years of experience in commercial roofing, residential roofing, and roof maintenance and we also offer no money down financing for emergency roof repair, so you won’t have to delay repairs.

We back all of our estimates and scheduled maintenance with our guarantee. That means you’ll know when to expect us, and exactly how much you owe right from the start. Contact us today to learn more about our services or to schedule an inspection. 

Preman Roofing cares about your safety and convenience at home. Check out our tips about roof leak detection in San Diego and contact us if you need our help.