During an extreme weather event like a tornado, hurricane, or severe thunderstorm, your roof can become damaged. Sometimes it can be hard to get a roofer to come do repairs right away, so what can you do? Even minor cracks and small leaks can end up causing a lot of damage, which will translate into higher repair costs. One effective and inexpensive remedy is to put a tarp over the damaged part of your roof.

When you do it right, a good tarp can protect your roof for up to 90 days depending on the weather. This will give you plenty of time to arrange for a professional roofer to come and do any fixes required. Check out these instructions on how to install a tarp on your damaged roof.

1. What You’ll Need

Here are the supplies you will need before starting the project:

  • a high-quality tarp, the thicker the better
  • nails (3 1/4” will work the best)
  • 2 x 4 wooden planks, four or five pieces
  • hammer
  • safety glasses and gloves
  • utility knife
  • screw gun
  • ladder

2. Clean Away Debris

The very first thing you need to do is clean up all the debris from your roof. This will help you to properly secure the tarp. Watch for missing or torn shingles, broken panels, tiles out of place, dented vents, and any other damage you will want to tell your roofer.

3. Measure Area to be Covered

The size of tarp you will use depends on how big the area is that you will need to protect. There are many tarp sizes to choose from so measure before you go out to buy one so you can select the best one for your needs.

Partially unroll the tarp to cover the damaged section of roof. Let at least four feet of the tarp overhang past the peak on the other side. Allow the remainder of the tarp to hang off the eave on the damaged side.

4. Make an Anchor Board

Use cap nails to attach the peak end of the tarp to a piece of 2 x 4. Place the 2 x 4 against the roof so the tarp won’t gather debris or water. The board needs to be at least two feet longer than the tarp width.

Next, wrap the tarp around the board. Secure the board to the roof with screws. This will act as an anchor for your tarp. You can put another 2 x 4 on top of the anchor board to protect against tearing.

5. Sandwich the Tarp

Attach 2 x 4 boards to both edges of the tarp, on the peak side, perpendicular to the anchor board. This helps keep the water out and attaches the tarp tight to the roof.

6. Extend Top Edge Over Ride of Roof

If you need to, cut away any excess from the other end after you leave yourself about four feet overhang. Nail the tarp to a 2 x 4 the same as you did for the first board. Nail into the board at least 10 inches apart. Wrap the tarp around the board and pull it tight against the roof. Attach the board under the eave with the screw gun.

7. Secure Edges

Attach 2 x 4 boards below the sides of the tarp. This will help keep water out and finish securing the tarp to your roof.

8. Safety Tips

Securing a tarp isn’t complicated but you do have to make sure you are safe for the process.

Before you start, make sure you have all the equipment and tools needed, and that you’re wearing clothes and protective gear suitable for the task.

If your roof is too steep, install the tarp from the ladder; don’t try to walk on the roof. Especially do not walk on the tarp! This is a hazard, particularly when it’s wet.

If there are holes in the roof, outline the holes below the tarp using spray paint to identify them as hazards for the roofers.

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