As a homeowner, you need to be able to expect the unexpected. You may experience little to no urgent issues with your home for months or even years, only to suddenly deal with something serious like a roof leak.
If you have a roof leak or are worried about the condition of your roof after a storm, you should always call a professional roofing contractor to repair your roof. But sometimes, especially after intense storms, all the roofing contractors in your area may be overscheduled and can’t get to your property for a few days.
In this emergency situation, you can apply a tarp to your roof for a temporary fix if you feel comfortable doing so. In this guide, we’ll walk you through how to tarp a roof with nails and without nails.
How to Tarp a Roof With Nails 🔨
We want to be very clear that roofing can be a dangerous job, and you should only attempt this project if you feel very confident in your abilities. Before you get started, follow these safety tips:
- Always work with at least one other person
- Wear close-toed, thick-sole shoes
- Rent a roofing harness
- Use a sturdy ladder that extends 3 feet above your roof (just don’t step on the extended part)
- Never work in the rain, snow, extreme temperatures, or windy conditions
To tarp your own roof by using nails, you’ll need the following materials:
- Roofing nails
- Hammer or screw gun
- Wooden planks
- Roofing harness
- Push broom
- Measuring tape
- Toolbelt (Not required but can be helpful)
Step 1: Clean Debris Off Your Roof
The first step you should follow is clearing debris off your roof. If you’re dealing with an emergency after a big storm, it’s likely that tree branches and other debris have been blown onto your roof.
Carefully secure your roofing harness and climb onto your roof. Use a push broom to push debris off of your roof. This is beneficial for two reasons:
- It prevents the risk of the debris causing more cracks in your shingles.
- It allows you to get a clear picture of the damage on your roof that’s causing a leak.
Step 2: Measure the Damaged Area
Locate the damaged area of your roof. Common signifiers of damage include:
- Missing shingles
- Cracked or broken shingles
- Shingles flapping in the wind
- Hail dents
- Missing roofing nails
- Rusted or cracked flashing
Measure the area around the damage with your tape measure. You’ll need this measurement so that you can find a tarp that’s slightly bigger than the damaged area.
Step 3: Purchase and Lay the Tarp
Write down the measurements and head to your local hardware store to find a tarp. You’ll want a heavy-duty tarp that covers the damaged area plus four feet. You’ll also need to pick up 2×4 wooden planks to secure the tarp down by the edges and throughout.
With a friend or family member, return to your roof with the tarp and wood planks. Lay the tarp taut and quickly work on securing it so that it doesn’t blow away.
Step 4: Secure the Tarp With Wooden Boards & Nails
Create an anchor board by rolling a 2×4 board into the tarp’s end. Nail the tarp to the board. This part will sit against the roof. Nail the board to the roof with a hammer or screw gun to secure the first edge.
Lay the tarp as taut as possible to avoid more rain getting underneath it. Repeat these steps for each edge of the tarp. You can also lay wooden planks in the middle of the tarp and nail those in as well for an extra protective measure.
How to Secure a Tarp Without Nails 🧱
Securing a tarp with nails and wooden boards is one of the most common ways to do so. However, if you nail into your roof, those shingles will need to be repaired when you eventually take the tarp off.
In short-term emergency situations, you may opt to tarp your roof without nails. This version will take more heavy lifting, but some people find it to be easier.
- Sandbags or cinder blocks
- Roofing harness
Step 1: Prep in the Same Way
To tarp your roof without nails, begin by prepping your roof in the same way as above. Use a push broom to remove debris from your roof. Then, measure the area.
When you don’t use wooden planks and nails, you can get away with the tarp being smaller (as long as it still covers the damaged area and then some).
Step 2: Position the Tarp With Another Person
When the area is clear, and you’ve secured a heavy-duty tarp, return to your roof with your helper. Lay the tarp flat and taut over the damaged area.
Step 3: Secure the Tarp With Sandbags or Cinder Blocks
As we mentioned earlier, this method of tarping your roof will require some heavy lifting. It may be wisest to have a total of 3 or 4 working on this task. Someone will very, very carefully need to stand on the ladder and pass the sandbags or cinder blocks up to the people on the roof.
Place enough sandbags or cinder blocks along the edges of the tarp so that there aren’t any gaps. If there are sizeable gaps in the tarp, it can easily allow more water underneath it.
Carefully climb down the ladder when you’re finished securing the tarp. Keep your eye out for the leak from the inside of your house. If your roof starts leaking again, you may need to reconfigure the tarp.
More Storm Damage Roof Tips
It can feel overwhelming to deal with roof damage after a storm or on another emergency basis. Follow these tips to navigate your current situation or to feel well-prepared for the future.
- Always, always defer to a roofing professional after a storm. Schedule an inspection as promptly as you can. But of course, if you’re having an emergency and no roofers are available for a few days, you can attempt to tarp your roof with the steps above.
- Once you’ve laid down your tarp, don’t walk on its surface. It can be quite slippery, and you don’t want to risk falling.
- Tarping your roof is only a temporary solution. Resist the temptation to keep your roof tarped for more than a couple of days.
- Regularly schedule a tree trimming service for tree branches that extend over your roof. When high winds are in the equation, these branches can break off and hit your roof with force.
- Have an emergency exit plan in place with your family in the case of severe storms. If you have a major roof leak and a roofer isn’t immediately available, it may be wise to grab your valuables and relocate until you can professional roof repairs. Thankfully, this is rarely the case, but it’s always good to be prepared.
- Consider filing an insurance claim if your roof damage is due to a storm. Your insurance company can’t provide coverage if the damage was due to old materials or homeowner neglect. But, if you were caught in a hail or wind storm, it’s worth seeing if an insurance adjuster approves you for coverage. It’s always helpful to have a professional roofing contractor perform an inspection and write a detailed report of your damage and the suggested repairs.
Your North Carolina Roofing Partner Has Your Back
Roofing emergencies can feel very frightening. Whether or not you feel comfortable tarping your own roof, you’ll need a professional roofer to make long-term fixes on your roof. If you live in the greater Raleigh, NC, area, your first call should be to Scro’s Roofing.
We have 25+ years of experience helping our community members when they need it most. We will come out to your property as soon as possible to provide emergency repairs.
Reach out to Scro’s today if you’re having roofing issues!