How-To Videos

How to Attach a Tarp to a Leaking, Storm-Damaged Roof

By: Danny Lipford
Danny Lipford demonstrates how to secure a tarp to a storm damaged roof.

Danny Lipford demonstrating how to secure a tarp to a storm damaged roof.

In the aftermath of a hurricane, tornado, severe storm, falling tree limbs, or other cause of roof damage; it’s important to report the damage to your insurance company as soon as possible and take plenty of pictures.

To minimize water damage in the interim before long-term repairs can be made, cover the damaged part of the roof with a tarpaulin. Here’s how to go about it.

To secure a tarp to your roof:

  • Find the source of the roof leak.
  • Stretch a tarp flat on the roof.
  • Extend the top edge of the tarp over the ridge of the roof.
  • Positions several 1×2 pieces of lumber on the tarp running vertically down the slope of the roof.
  • Attach the 1x2s through the tarp and into the roof decking with eight-penny nails about every 16 inches.
  • Use felt roofing nails with a plastic washer to help secure the tarp to the roof.

Watch this video to find out more.

Further Information

Video Transcript

Danny Lipford: In the aftermath of a hurricane, it’s important to report any and all damage that you may have to your home to your insurance company right away, and take plenty of pictures. It’s also very important to take the necessary steps to minimize additional damage to your home.

Now, after a storm a lot of homeowners are looking for an immediate solution for a leaky roof. And in most of those cases, a plastic tarp really can help to minimize any additional damage that can occur with other rains after the storm.

Now, to hold it in place, a one-by-two like this is just perfect. You can stretch your tarp out over—lapping it over the ridge—make it nice and flat. Then use the one-by-twos with some eight-penny nails, like these, to hold it down in place. And you’ll want to nail it about every sixteen inches.

Also, occasionally, you’ll want to put maybe a few of these. These are nails with plastic washers on them that will kind of spread out the support that they provide, and really hold your tarp nice and tight.

Now, it’s important to remember to keep it nice and tight so that water will not dam up anyway. And run these strips down the slope, instead of turning them sideways that can create some ponding or damming that’s not a good idea at all.


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16 Comments on “How to Attach a Tarp to a Leaking, Storm-Damaged Roof”

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  • Shirley Oebel (Valenzuela) Says:
    December 1st, 2018 at 11:59 am

    I just had to get a tarp because my roof starting leaking over the dining area (not good for food). I went toa local supply place and got a tarp larger than the affected area. The man at the store told me to, in addition to nails, use silicone to help hold the tarp down. When I got nails, the man at that store told me to get the ones that are almost a “U” shape. They fit through the grommet and then just gently hammer it in to the roof. Going to have help doing that today and I’ll report back.

  • Official Comment:

    Thomas Boni Says:
    September 26th, 2018 at 9:05 am

    Hi, John,
    Felt roofing nails are made for roofs, so they should pose no danger to the roof.
    Good luck!

  • John Says:
    September 18th, 2018 at 3:07 am


    I have a tarp covering that I want to use to cover a couple of rain damaged roof area,Would using the nails put holes in the roof that may create leaks?

    Thank you..

  • Official Comment:

    Thomas Boni Says:
    September 7th, 2018 at 1:01 pm

    Thanks for sharing your experience with the community, Renate!

    Take care. 🙂

  • Renate Mellinger Says:
    September 6th, 2018 at 3:57 pm

    Graeme Munro..I have a metal roof. I used spray adhesive under the whole expanse of the tarp. (only works if it’s dry) and Gorilla tape on every bit of the edge. Held up all winter.
    good luck.

  • Official Comment:

    Thomas Boni Says:
    July 8th, 2018 at 3:29 pm

    Hi, Ora!
    Most tarps have grommets that will allow you to tie off the tarp to your roof. You may need to put nails in or around your soffit area to tie off the ropes and tarp.
    Good luck!

  • Ora Little Says:
    June 16th, 2018 at 3:31 pm

    How can can I use a tarp on a metal roof without the the nail put a hole in my shingles

  • Official Comment:

    Thomas Says:
    March 2nd, 2018 at 9:19 am

    Hi, Joe!
    Here’s more information about this topic:
    Specifically, “…cover any nails or nail holes with the glove of roofing cement.”
    Give it a read and let us know how things work out.
    Thanks for your question!

  • Joe Kelly Says:
    March 1st, 2018 at 7:01 pm

    My tarp was put on areas that were not damaged also. Have the nails caused damage. I got them to us staples but i expect to find a few small hotels. Can the holes be filled. Is there a sealant product or a tool

  • Aaron P. Says:
    February 26th, 2018 at 9:56 am

    The nails used to secure the tarp would only be an issue if your insurance carrier isn’t covering replacement of the roof. If they are only covering repair…well, look for a new insurance carrier.

  • Carver Peters Says:
    January 30th, 2018 at 11:52 am

    I have the same question as Wesley Y…

    Wesley Y. Says:
    September 17th, 2017 at 2:27 pm
    This suggestion seems to be good for securing the tarp, but what about the holes that will be left in the shingles from the nails after the tarp is removed? Wouldn’t this cause leaking in the future?

  • Donna Cullen Says:
    December 13th, 2017 at 9:24 am

    This video presents part of the story – and for an asphalt roof only. The weight of the tarp, how to mark holes, how to cover large holes, how to secure bottom edge, mark skylights, work around soil pipes, tarp around chimneys, safety considerations, etc. become relegated to the experience or imagination of the homeowner. Good as far as it goes – the first chapter in a novel rarely does the job.

  • Wesley Y. Says:
    September 17th, 2017 at 2:27 pm

    This suggestion seems to be good for securing the tarp, but what about the holes that will be left in the shingles from the nails after the tarp is removed? Wouldn’t this cause leaking in the future?

  • patti guerrero Says:
    February 7th, 2017 at 12:19 pm

    I have had two roofers tarp my flashing still leaking. my Insurance left me with water coming in to a garbage can open walls. said cant afford to send someone else?still storming. on waiting list to fix.

  • Graeme Munro Says:
    July 22nd, 2016 at 2:26 am

    I have problems sticking a tarp to my metal roof…It blows free again in a wind with anything I try.I tried glue along the drip edges, but the wind comes along and blows it free again…

  • Barbara Dean Says:
    April 24th, 2016 at 8:33 am

    Yes I have a leaking roof but not now bc I have like a cover from keeping it from leaking again. But I like to know where can I get one of those tarp that looks like real tin but not bc I watch a video and they can save me a lot of money if I can get one them.So again please can y’all email me any information or ideas that can get me started. Thanks.

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How to Attach a Tarp to a Leaking, Storm-Damaged Roof