How to Put a Tarp on a Leaking Roof

Rain, wind and hail from tornadoes, hurricanes and other violent storms can damage roofing, causing major leaks. Even without storms, overhanging tree branches can snap and fall on a roof, create a hole that leaks. Roof leaks are extremely difficult to repair during harsh weather conditions because it is challenging to find where the leak originates. Emergency roofing is necessary to prevent water from leaking into the structure temporarily. A tarp effectively protects a structure from leaks until the roof can be properly repaired.

Access the roof using a sturdy ladder and wearing slip-resistant shoes.

Unroll part of a woven plastic tarp over the damaged area of the roof, from the eaves to the roof peak or ridge.

Wrap one end of the tarp twice around a 2-by-4-inch wood board. The board should be as long as the tarp's width.

Staple the folded tarp securely to the wood board using a carpenter's stapler.

Place one 2-by-4-inch board along the length of both sides of the tarp. The ends of both wood boards should touch the tarp-wrapped wood board.

Nail both 2-by-4-inch boards to the tarp-wrapped wood board. Use two 3-inch common nails to attach each wood board to the tarp-wrapped wood board. Do not nail any part of the assembly to the roof.

Stretch the other half of the tarp over the ridge and down the other side of the roof.

Repeat the process on the other side of the tarp.


Heavy polythene sheeting can be used instead of tarps.


Do not attempt this repair in high wind or other dangerous weather condition. Do not attempt this on a steeply pitched roof; you could fall. Do not step on the tarp; it is slippery when wet and dry.

Things You'll Need

  • Sturdy ladder
  • Slip-resistant shoes
  • Woven plastic tarp
  • 6 wood 2x4 boards
  • Carpenter's stapler
  • 8 common nails, 3 inches
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About the Author

April Dowling first started writing in high school and has written many news articles for newspaper and yearbook publications. She is currently pursuing a career as an online writer and affiliate marketer. Dowling writes for several websites and keeps many blogs.