There are several scenarios that can warrant tarping your roof. You might, for instance, have noticed the beginnings of a leakage problem. This could have been caused by a fallen branch, severe weather or just gradual deterioration. In any case, an effective tarping job will prevent more costly water damage.

It’s also possible to carry out emergency tarping as a quick, short-term solution while you wait for a contractor to arrive and perform a larger repair. As many homeowners have learned the hard way, it doesn’t take a lot of water for a serious mold, mildew or rotting issue to develop. Therefore, proper tarping is vital to saving money and time on maintenance.

If there appears to be unsavory weather on the horizon, you’ll certainly want to get your roof tarped as soon as possible. So, what does an effective tarping job entail? Here are the steps you need to take.

Get the Right Tools

As with any home maintenance project, equipping yourself with the right tools will make tarping your roof much easier, quicker and safer. In addition to the items listed below, it helps to have a camera or smartphone on hand for planning and surveying. You might also want to take pictures of the damage for your insurance company before starting.

  • Extension ladder
  • Safety equipment (helmet and gloves)
  • Measuring tape
  • Nails or screws
  • Ample tarp

If you plan on using self-adhesive tarp, you will need a heat gun and extension cable as well. A roofing shovel can come in handy for cleaning up when you’re done. Depending on the type of damage, you may also require a few thin wooden boards, about 2×4 or less. These are used to provide your roof with additional protection and structural integrity.

Ensure Your Safety

In most cases, it’s best to leave this job to professionals. However, if you aim to make tarping your roof a DIY project, the following safety precautions should be considered:

  • Approach steep or slippery roofing with toe boards or safety harnesses
  • Enlist the help of another person to spot affected areas
  • Wear safety goggles and boots with rubber soles

Assess the Situation

To avoid wasting money on excess supplies, it’s wise to get an accurate picture of the damage first. Grab your ladder and climb to the edge of your roof. If there’s debris in the way, you can use a broom or rake to get rid of it. Make sure to only move the tool towards you if you have shingles, as pushing the opposite way will only cause further damage.

This is another point where taking pictures can be useful. Before you head out for supplies, remember that larger holes should be covered with plywood boards, which will prevent water from pooling and weighing down the tarp.

Measure Up

If you’re technologically inclined and your smartphone is a newer model, you might be able to use an augmented reality (AR) app to measure your tarping area. Otherwise, a standard tape measure will suffice. Keep an eye out for any broken or missing shingles. These should be included in your measurements.

Place the Tarp

This is where you’ll need those 2×4 planks we mentioned earlier. As you place your tarp on the affected area, use the boards to keep it in place, moving downwards from the peak of your roof. If you need to cover said peak, boards will not be suitable. An effective workaround is to screw in two smaller anchor planks while leaving space around the top.

You should only need a single screw for each plank from the start. From there, the tarp should be sandwiched between another board before being screwed together. Make sure to wrap your 2×4 planks with extra pieces of tarp to seal them from water. Repeat this process along all of the edges, keeping all of the tarp sandwiched between the boards.

Secure the Tarp

Once everything is in place, you can move on to securing the wooden boards. Since water can blow in from underneath the tarp, you’ll need to leave some of the material hanging over your roof. After securing your boards, install another 2×4 plank beneath the end point of your roof and wrap the extra tarp around the board to seal it in.

Tarping Around Features

There are some additional considerations when you need to tarp around roofing features such as chimneys, skylights and plumbing vents.

Of course, you don’t want to be covering any of these elements in tarp as it would be a major safety hazard. In general, you just need to measure and cut a hole in the tarp before placing it to accommodate the feature. After placing the tarp, use quality tape to seal the edges and keep them watertight.

In most cases, an emergency tarping job can cover your roof for up to three months. After that, it’s wise to call an expert service to perform a proper repair.