Temporary Roof Patching

How to Install a Temporary Tarp

Drip. Drip. Drip. The dreaded sound signals you have a leak. And when it follows a heavy thunderstorm or a hail storm, it is likely from a leaking roof. You have three options. You can ignore it and hope it goes away (which never works); call a roofing professional like Peak Roofing & Construction, or Do It Yourself (DIY).

Safety first

Securing a roof tarp requires physical activity. Please make sure the person placing the tarp is comfortable with heights and is secure on their feet. Also, do not attempt to put a tarp when the roof is wet. Already slick surfaces become more dangerous when wet. This also applies to the tarp. Any bit of moisture can cause you to slip.

“I appreciated your team coming out the same day I called and putting multiple tarps on my roof. I was even more appreciative that night when we had a second storm hit. We have a full replacement scheduled for next week. I hope the same crew can come. They did a great job. Thank you.”

Randy K



Tools needed

  • A ladder that adequately and securely reaches beyond the top of your roof and safely leans against the side
  • Sturdy construction knife
  • Cordless drill
  • Wood saw

Shopping list for materials                                                                                     

  • Tarp: Sized to extend beyond the damaged area at least 3’ on each side
    • If you have access to the FEMA-provided blue tarps, grab them! They are designed to last months instead of weeks
    • Permanent repairs can take longer than expected in areas that have been heavily hit
    • Consider purchasing a thicker tarp if available
    • Tarps constructed with UV inhibitors are a wise investment if the repair is not being done immediately
  • Wood strips: We suggest furring strips or wood strips – either a 1”x3” or 1”x4.
    • Pressure treated or untreated work the same
    • Purchase enough wood to cover the perimeter of the tarp plus 4” on all sides
  • Screws: 2” or longer deck screws (1-2 boxes)
    • If your tarp is larger than 10’x20’, consider increasing to 3” screws and definitely buy 2 boxes
    • DO NOT try and save money with drywall or galvanized screws. They simply do not stand up well
    • If you don’t have a cordless drill (or a nice neighbor with a cordless drill) and need to use nails, use nails with galvanized ring shanks
    • Some people like using galvanized washers as well. It helps hold down the boards, but I would not say it’s required
  • Drill bit: Sized to fit the deck screws
  • 3/8” plywood sheet that is large enough to cover any areas that are punctured
    • Helpful if large tree limbs or other debris hit your roof as a result of a severe ice storm or hail storm
  • Hurricane tape: Used to patch problems with vent pipes

Note: Be sure to save your receipts so you can be reimbursed by your insurance company as part of filing your hail claim or storm claim.

Let’s get started

  1. Gather your tools and smaller materials in a bucket or container with a handle so you can easily carry them with one hand. Check your list twice. For obvious reasons, the fewer trips you make climbing on and off the roof, the better.
  2. If you have penetrations, cut ½” thick plywood (or OSB sheathing) so it is 3” larger than the affected area. Use your deck screws to attach the wood to the roof at 6”-12” spacing around the perimeter of the plywood patch. If a large patch is needed, try and place screws directly into a truss.
  3. Place the tarp: If the hail damage or storm damage is close to an edge, leave at least 12” of tarp hanging over the side of the roof and screw or tape to the fascia board. If possible, place the top edge of the tarp over the ridge of the roof to create the best seal. If that is not possible, apply a bead of sealant at the top edge of the tarp.
  4. Place the tarp on the leaking area and smooth it out. You want to avoid big gaps and stretch it as far as possible.
  5. On the high side of the patch (preferably on the other side of the ridge), wrap one end of the tarp around a 1”×3” furring strip – making sure the furring strip extends past each end by 1’. Temporarily screw the rolled end down to the roof with at least two or three screws. (If you have a vent pipe in the way, see below).
    • Vent pipes: Carefully cut an opening and use hurricane tape (or vent cover) to make it watertight before tightening the tarp.
  6. Position 1”x2” pieces of lumber running vertically down the roof to firmly secure the tarp.
  7. Pull the tarp tight around the edges with deck screws every 8” to 12”, making sure you have one within 2” to 3” of each edge.
  8. Repeat this step on the lower side by wrapping the tarp around another 1”×3” twice, making sure it is tight.
  9. It is best to attach the lower edge of the tarp to the fascia or the very edge of the roof. This can be one of the trickiest areas as the tarps can be very slippery. If possible, move your ladder to this area so you can work at a better angle.
  10. Time to make sure everything is off the roof before removing the ladder.

Congratulations, you now should have a temporary patch that should withstand most rainstorms. Depending on the quality of the tarp used, the patch should easily last anywhere from 1 to 6 months.

“The Disclaimer”

First, understand it is a temporary repair resulting from a storm or hail, and you will still need a permanent roof repair sooner rather than later. You don’t want to wait too long and find out you can no longer file a claim if the damage is more extensive than you realize. Most insurance companies hold you responsible for doing what is needed to protect the overall home or business. Neglecting to do this can cause big problems down the road. My other word of warning is to not do anything that does not feel safe and comfortable to you. This includes getting up on a wet, slick roof or climbing an unsecured ladder.

Protecting your investment

Properly securing the tarp will prevent further interior damage to your home or business. These damages cost thousands if not taken care of quickly. If you have any doubts, Peak Roofing Systems has a team dedicated to doing roof repairs in DFW.

For more information about residential roofing and other exterior services we provide including gutters, painting, siding, fencing, and window installation and repair call (972) 335-7325 (Dallas, Fort Worth), 512-415-6888 (Austin), or contact us online.