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

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

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.


  1. 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.

  2. 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…

  3. 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.

  4. 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?

  5. 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.

  6. 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?

  7. 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.

  8. 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

    • 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!

  9. 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.

  10. Hi..

    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..

  11. 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.

  12. I have the same question as Wesley Y, Carver Peter, Ora Little and John:

    Wouldn’t 8-penny nails, which are 2.5″ inches long, go through the 1″ thick 1x2s, leaving 1.5″ of remaining nail to go through the roof, making lots of entry points for water into and through the roof??
    Or, am I missing something here?


  13. I see all the question…WHERE ARE THE ANSWERS??????
    like when using nails is it going to damage the good part of the roof with holes or not as long as the tarp stsys on. After it comes off.

    • Hi, Sue!
      In case you missed the answer posted earlier, we shared that felt roofing nails are made for roofs, so they should pose no danger to the roof.
      Thanks for your question! 🙂

    • Hi, Debbie!
      We recommend covering the entire roof with the plastic sheeting, feeding rope through the sheeting and staking it into the ground with tent supports. It’ll be like a giant tent over your house!
      Alternatively, you can weigh the plastic sheeting down with bricks.
      Good luck!

    • Hi, Don,
      You’ll need a tarp with grommets so you can tie it off and drive nails in or around your soffits to secure it.
      For a damage-free method that doesn’t require patching, you could cover the entire roof with plastic sheeting, feed rope through the sheeting and stake it into the ground with tent supports.
      Or you can weigh the plastic sheeting down with bricks.
      Good luck!

  14. How long can a person keep replacing a tarp when it keeps ripping and making a mess. Using sand bags? Is there a law anywhere to limit the amount of time before they do the right thing and have a roof replacement?

    • Hi, Ilene, your best bet is to check local ordinances and particularly public nuisance laws, in addition to homeowner association covenants, if they apply in this case.
      Good luck! 🙂


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