Perfecting The Cover-Up: Protecting A Damaged Roof With A Tarp

Jason Hunt

After a severe storm, one of the first things you need to address is the condition of your roof. After all, a seriously damaged roof can threaten the structure and stability of your house by introducing water, pests and other hazards. Since you can't always repair damage immediately, covering the damaged area with a tarp is often the best place to start. The tarp covering will create a barrier that prevents the outdoor hazards from causing more damage inside. Here's a look at what damage should be covered and how to properly secure the tarp for the best protection.

Looking for Damage

Storms can cause damage that ranges from highly visible holes to subtle changes that can lead to leaks. Don't assume that your roof didn't suffer damage just because you can't see anything obvious. Instead, you'll want to put a ladder up to take a closer look. Don't get on the roof, though, as it could be unstable. Instead, inspect it from the perimeter on a ladder. Here are some things to look for:

  • Torn or Lost Shingles – high wind and hail can damage your shingles.
  • Damaged Vents – hail and flying debris can damage metal vents.
  • Missing Metal Panels – high winds and strong gusts can blow metal panels off the roof.
  • Visible Indentations or Warping – most often occurring in asphalt shingles, you may see warping or dents that can be severe enough to expose the underlying fiberglass.

Covering Damage with a Tarp

In order for a tarp to provide any protection, you need to be sure that you apply it properly. Otherwise, wind and debris can seep underneath it. Buy a tarp large enough to cover the entire roof from the eaves to the peak over the damaged area plus a few feet extra on each side to secure it.

Cut 2x4s that are a couple of feet longer than the tarp width, then wrap one end of the tarp around a 2x4. Secure the 2x4 to the tarp with a staple gun. Then, nail the 2x4 to the roof. Place another 2x4 over the top of the wrapped one and secure them together with nails that are close to three and a half inches long.

Place the 2x4 along the eaves, then stretch the tarp up over the peak of the roof so that it folds over the other side. Repeat the 2x4 wrapping process on the other side, nailing the bottom 2x4 to the roof and then securing the two 2x4s together with nails. This will hold both ends of the tarp together.

Nail 2x4s along the sides of the tarp as well, securing the sides down. Don't space them more than about eight inches apart, though, so that you don't permit space for debris and moisture to pass under it.

With the right preparation and covering, you can rely on a tarp to keep your home protected from moisture and debris from a damaged roof. Follow the steps presented here to inspect and cover your roof until you can get it repaired by roofing contractors.