How to Tarp a Roof in an Emergency (Step-By-Step Guide)

August 15th, 2023 BY First American Roofing

As a homeowner, there are a lot of things you need to know that you don’t even know that you need to know — like how to tarp a roof.

Emergency roofing situations happen, especially when you live somewhere that sees severe weather throughout the year. The last thing you want to deal with is an open hole in your roof and not know how to apply a temporary fix to keep it from getting bigger.

In this article, we’ll walk you through the steps on how to tarp a roof properly, so that you can keep your home and belongings safe in between storms and while you wait for the professionals to come to the rescue.

How to Tarp a Roof Step-By-Step

When left alone, roof damage can turn into moisture damage which will directly cause structural damage. Only your roofing contractor will be able to provide you with a solid, long-term solution — but it’s up to you in the meantime to protect your home from more bad weather on the horizon.

If you’ve never applied a tarp to your roof before, the process may seem a little intimidating. Once you read through the steps below, you’ll be ready to run out to your local hardware store with confidence and get to work.

Step 1: Take the Appropriate Safety Precautions

contractor shows how to tarp a roof safely with harness and ladder

The most important step involved in learning how to tarp a roof is safety. Having said that, you don’t want to attempt this temporary fix during a bad storm or if you know bad weather is rolling in soon.

Aside from clear skies, you’ll also need the proper safety equipment to tarp a roof, which includes:

As long as you take the right safety precautions, you shouldn’t have an issue once you climb up on your roof.

Step 2: Be Sure to Document Everything

Before you start clearing debris and spreading out the tarp, you want to make sure that you document any severe storm damage for insurance purposes. Insurance companies always require proof of the storm damage to approve storm damage claims, debris and all.

So, don’t touch anything until you’ve:

This would include taking photos of the area you’ll be applying a tarp to — but be sure to take these photos from your ladder if you can. As an additional safety precaution, professional roofers never recommend that you walk around your roof as it’s dangerous.

Step 3: Clear the Area

Once you’ve documented everything, the next step is to clear the affected area. Carefully remove debris using a broom or a rake, and be sure to do this while remaining on the ladder.

Depending on how your yard is set up, you may need to move your car out of the way or cover landscaping to protect it from any objects or debris that can cause damage.

Step 4: Measure the Surface Area

contractors measuring roof

Now you’ll need to measure the surface area of the damage you’ll be applying the tarp to. Using measuring tape, measure the damaged area to see what size tarp you’ll need.

Since most holes and damages don’t come in perfect shape, it’s a good idea to measure around them, in a square shape, to get the most accurate dimensions. Keep in mind, you’ll want the tarp to extend up to a foot or more past the damage for the best results.

If there are multiple holes or areas of damage, it’s a good idea to measure the entire area they’re in so that you only have to purchase one large tarp.

Step 5: Purchase the Tarp and Supplies

Take your measurements to the hardware store and find a tarp that’s large enough to cover the entire area, plus a few extra feet on all sides. Keep in mind that it’s always better to have too much tarp than too little.

Be sure to purchase a heavy-duty tarp designed for all seasons. Thinner, more basic tarps won’t be able to provide any protection against wind and rain while you wait for a professional roofer to make the necessary repairs.

You’ll also need something to hold the tarp down and seal the edges for protection. Adhesive tarps are available in most stores, but if you can’t find one, you’ll also need to purchase:

Step 6: Tarp Your Roof

Now it’s time to apply the tarp to your damaged roof. Here’s how it’s done:

Call a Professional Roofer

Calling a professional roofer can be either your first step or your last step in the roof tarping process. This is because many reputable roofing companies provide emergency roof damage repair services, meaning they’ll come out the same day to tarp your roof before coming back for a full inspection and estimate.

However, if your roofer doesn’t offer emergency services, you’ll want to call them as soon as you’ve finished tarping your roof to schedule a repair. Remember, your tarp isn’t meant to be a long-term solution to roof damage, so you’ll need to have the damage professionally repaired as soon as possible.

Luckily, First American Roofing and Siding can provide you with emergency repairs, which means you won’t have to wait for an emergency roof tarp or roof repairs. Give us a call today to learn more about our storm damage services and how we can help during your time of need!