How to Tarp a Flat Roof: Essential Waterproofing Guide

How to Tarp a Flat Roof?

To tarp a flat roof, you will need to follow a few simple steps.

First, measure the roof to determine the size of tarp you need.

Then, purchase the correct tarp material for your needs.

There are different types of tarps available, including canvas, plastic, and vinyl.

Each type has its own advantages and disadvantages.

Canvas is durable but can be heavy and difficult to handle.

Plastic is lightweight and easy to work with, but it may not hold up as well in harsh weather conditions.

Vinyl is a popular choice as it is both lightweight and durable.

After obtaining the tarp, cut it into strips that will cover the entire roof.

Lay out the tarp in a crisscross pattern, making sure to cover all areas of the roof.

Secure the tarp using roofing nails or staples, making sure to cover all four sides of the home to prevent water seepage.

It is important to regularly inspect and maintain flat roofs to check for potential damage caused by weather elements.

Tarps should be thick and durable to withstand the elements and protect the roof effectively.

In addition to securing the tarp with nails or screws, cover the roof with plastic sheeting and add insulation for extra protection.

Tarps can be used on any type of roof, including metal roofs or shingles, to protect against rain, hail storms, and snow.

However, if you are unsure or uncomfortable with tarping a roof, it is recommended to contact a professional for assistance.

They can ensure the job is done safely and effectively.

In the event of storm damage, Gouge Roofing offers storm damage repair services to help restore your roof to its proper condition.

Remember, safety should always be a priority when tarping a roof.

Key Points:

  • Measure the roof to determine the size of tarp needed
  • Purchase the correct type of tarp material (canvas, plastic, vinyl)
  • Cut the tarp into strips to cover the entire roof
  • Lay out the tarp in a crisscross pattern to cover all areas of the roof
  • Secure the tarp using roofing nails or staples on all four sides of the home
  • Regularly inspect and maintain the tarp and roof for potential damage caused by weather elements


Did You Know?

1. The largest tarp ever used to cover a flat roof measured an astonishing 24,000 square feet, covering the entire surface of a warehouse in Ohio.

2. In ancient times, tarps were made using animal hides and treated with oils to make them waterproof. The practice of using tarps to cover roofs dates back over 5,000 years.

3. The world’s first commercial tarp was manufactured in the early 1900s by the Chatham Manufacturing Company. They were initially used primarily for covering cotton on railroad cars.

4. Tarps are not only used for practical purposes but also for artistic expression. Many street artists and muralists use tarps as canvases to create large-scale outdoor artworks.

5. In the world of competitive sports, “tarp surfing” has become a popular activity. It involves riding a tarp on a flat surface, mimicking the motions of surfing. This unique sport originated in Australia in the early 2000s.

Different Types of Tarps: Canvas, Plastic, and Vinyl

When tarping a flat roof, three common options to consider are canvas, plastic, and vinyl tarps. It is essential to understand the advantages and disadvantages of each material to make an informed decision.

Canvas Tarps

Canvas tarps are made from heavy-duty woven fabric that is known for its durability and strength. They are highly resistant to tearing and can withstand harsh weather conditions. Canvas tarps are preferred for their breathability as they allow air to circulate beneath the tarp, preventing moisture buildup. This is particularly beneficial for flat roofs as it helps to minimize the risk of condensation and the growth of mold or mildew. However, canvas tarps can be relatively heavy and may require additional support on the roof to prevent sagging.

Plastic Tarps

Plastic tarps, made from polyethylene or polypropylene, are lightweight and easy to handle. They are often less expensive than canvas or vinyl tarps, making them a popular choice for temporary roof coverings. Plastic tarps provide excellent waterproofing protection as they are designed to repel water effectively. However, they are more prone to tearing and may not be as durable as canvas or vinyl tarps. Additionally, plastic tarps can be less breathable and may trap moisture, which can lead to the growth of mold or mildew if not properly ventilated.

  • Plastic tarps are made from polyethylene or polypropylene.
  • They are lightweight and easy to handle.
  • Plastic tarps are less expensive than canvas or vinyl tarps.
  • Popular choice for temporary roof coverings.
  • Excellent waterproofing protection.
  • More prone to tearing.
  • Not as durable as canvas or vinyl tarps.
  • Less breathable, may trap moisture.
  • Can lead to the growth of mold or mildew if not properly ventilated.
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Vinyl Tarps

Vinyl tarps, made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC), are known for their durability and resistance to tearing. They provide excellent waterproof protection and are also UV resistant, making them a reliable choice for tarping flat roofs. However, it’s important to note that vinyl tarps are generally more expensive than canvas or plastic tarps. Additionally, their heaviness and lack of breathability can result in condensation if proper ventilation is not provided.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Canvas, Plastic, and Vinyl Tarps

Each type of tarp material has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Understanding these factors can help you make an informed decision when choosing the right tarp for tarping your flat roof.

  • Polyethylene: Lightweight and durable, polyethylene tarps are a popular choice due to their affordability and versatility. However, they may not be as resistant to UV rays as other materials.
  • Canvas: Canvas tarps are known for their strength and durability. They provide excellent protection against harsh weather conditions, but they can be heavier and more expensive than other options.
  • Vinyl: Offering superior resistance to UV rays and extreme temperatures, vinyl tarps are an ideal choice for long-term outdoor use. They are also highly waterproof and easy to clean. However, they tend to be pricier than other types of tarps.
  • Mesh: Highly breathable and lightweight, mesh tarps allow for air circulation and minimize wind resistance. They are commonly used for covering scaffolding or creating shaded areas. However, they provide less protection against rain and snow.

When choosing a tarp, it is important to consider factors such as the desired level of protection, the specific weather conditions in your area, and your budget. Taking the time to evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of each tarp material will help ensure you select the most suitable option for your needs.

Advantages of Canvas Tarps:

  • Durability and strength: The material used in this product is known for its exceptional durability and strength, ensuring a long lifespan and reliable performance even under challenging conditions.
  • Breathable: The fabric is designed to allow for air circulation, promoting ventilation and preventing the buildup of heat and moisture. This feature adds to the overall comfort of the product.
  • Resistant to tearing and weather conditions: The material is highly resistant to tearing, making it suitable for rigorous use in various environments. Additionally, it can withstand diverse weather conditions without losing its quality or functionality.

Disadvantages of Canvas Tarps:

  • Relatively heavy and may require additional support
  • Can be more expensive compared to plastic tarps
  • May require proper maintenance to prevent mold or mildew growth

Advantages of Plastic Tarps:

  • Lightweight and easy to handle: This product offers the advantage of being lightweight, making it easy to handle and maneuver. This feature is especially beneficial for individuals looking for a hassle-free option.
  • Cost-effective option: Choosing this product proves to be a cost-effective decision. It provides reliable performance without breaking the bank.
  • Excellent waterproofing protection: One of the standout features of this product is its exceptional waterproofing protection. It ensures that your belongings remain safe and dry even in challenging weather conditions.

Disadvantages of Plastic Tarps:

  • Prone to tearing and less durable compared to canvas or vinyl tarps.
  • Less breathable and can trap moisture if not properly ventilated.
  • May not withstand extreme weather conditions as effectively.

The primary disadvantage of using these tarps is that they are prone to tearing and less durable compared to canvas or vinyl tarps. This means that they may not be as long-lasting and reliable in certain situations. Additionally, these tarps are less breathable, which can lead to the trapping of moisture if not properly ventilated. This can be a concern, especially in humid or wet environments. Lastly, they may not hold up well in extreme weather conditions, such as heavy rain, strong winds, or intense sunlight. It is important to consider these limitations when choosing the right type of tarp for your needs.

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Advantages of Vinyl Tarps:

  • High durability and resistance to tearing: The product boasts a remarkable level of durability and is highly resistant to tearing. This feature ensures that it can endure rigorous use without succumbing to damage.
  • Exceptional protection against water and UV rays: The product provides outstanding safeguarding against both water and harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. This not only keeps the item protected from water damage but also prevents it from being negatively affected by the sun’s rays.
  • Long-lasting and reliable: The product is designed to have a prolonged lifespan, providing users with a reliable solution that won’t disappoint. Its longevity showcases its ability to consistently perform at a high level, ensuring customer satisfaction.

Disadvantages of Vinyl Tarps:

  • Tarp materials such as canvas or plastic are often more cost-effective compared to using tarps made from heavier materials.
  • However, it’s important to note that heavier tarps have their own advantages and disadvantages.
  • One drawback of heavier tarps is their increased cost, which might not be suitable for all budgets.
  • Additionally, these tarps are generally less breathable, which can potentially lead to condensation issues.
  • To avoid moisture buildup, it is crucial to ensure proper ventilation when using heavier tarps.
  • Despite these considerations, heavier tarps can be a reliable choice for specific situations where their durability and strength are needed.

Steps for Tarping a Flat Roof: Measuring, Purchasing, Cutting, Laying Out, Securing, Checking, Covering, and Insulating

Step 1: Measuring the Roof

Begin by measuring the dimensions of your flat roof to determine the size of the tarp needed. Take accurate measurements of the length and width, allowing for adequate coverage.

Step 2: Purchasing the Correct Tarp Material

Based on your requirements and the advantages and disadvantages mentioned earlier, choose the appropriate tarp material for your flat roof. Consider the durability, breathability, and waterproofing qualities.

Step 3: Cutting the Tarp into Strips

To effectively cover a large flat roof with a tarp, follow these steps:

  1. Cut the tarp into manageable strips: If the size of your flat roof is too large to be covered by a single tarp, you can make it more manageable by cutting the tarp into strips. This will facilitate the installation process.
  2. Ensure proper water shedding: As you install the tarp strips, make sure they overlap with each other. This overlapping will ensure that water is properly shed off the roof surface, preventing leaks or water damage.

Step 4: Laying Out the Tarp in a Crisscross Pattern

Place the tarp strips on the roof surface in a crisscross pattern, allowing them to overlap by a few feet to provide complete coverage. Ensure each strip is properly aligned and snugly fitted.

Step 5: Securing the Tarp with Roofing Nails or Staples

Use roofing nails or staples to secure each tarp strip to the roof surface. Start by fastening the corners and edges, ensuring a tight and secure fit. Continue to fasten the tarp at regular intervals along its length.

Step 6: Checking for Leaks

After securing the tarp, it is crucial to inspect the roof for any gaps or areas where water might seep through. If any potential leaks are detected, it is advisable to use additional tarps or patches to cover them and ensure a watertight seal.

Step 7: Covering the Roof with Plastic Sheeting

For added protection, consider covering the tarp surface with a layer of plastic sheeting. This will provide an extra barrier against water and further enhance the waterproofing capabilities of the tarp.

Step 8: Adding Insulation

Consider adding insulation beneath the tarp to improve energy efficiency and protect against temperature extremes. Insulation can help regulate the temperature inside your home and prevent heat loss or gain.

  • Insulation beneath the tarp enhances energy efficiency.
  • It protects against temperature extremes.
  • Insulation regulates the temperature inside your home.
  • It prevents heat loss or gain.

Importance of Thick and Durable Tarps for Flat Roofs

When tarping a flat roof, it is crucial to use thick and durable tarps that can withstand constant exposure to the elements. Flat roofs are prone to pooling water, snow buildup, and extreme weather conditions, making it essential to have a tarp that is built to last. Thick and durable tarps provide better resistance to tearing, ensuring a secure and reliable covering for your flat roof.

  • Use thick and durable tarps for tarping a flat roof.
  • Flat roofs are prone to pooling water, snow buildup, and extreme weather conditions.
  • Thick and durable tarps provide better resistance to tearing.
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Regular Inspection and Maintenance of Flat Roofs

Even with a tarp in place, it is important to regularly inspect and maintain your flat roof to prevent potential damage caused by weather elements. Regularly check the tarp for any signs of wear, tearing, or displacement. Remove debris and snow buildup to maintain the integrity of the tarp and prevent water pooling. Addressing any issues promptly will help extend the lifespan of the tarp and ensure the continuous protection of your flat roof.

Securing Tarps with Nails or Screws

When securing tarps to a flat roof, nails or screws are commonly used to ensure a tight and secure fit. Nails provide a reliable method of attachment, especially if the roof has wooden decking. However, screws are often preferred for metal or concrete roofs, as they offer better grip and durability. Whichever method you choose, ensure that the tarp is tightly secured to prevent water seepage and guarantee the longevity of your flat roof.

Tarping a flat roof is a crucial step in protecting your home from the elements. It requires careful consideration of the type of tarp material, precise measurements, and proper installation techniques. Prioritizing safety and seeking professional assistance if needed is paramount. By following the recommended steps and regularly inspecting your flat roof, you can ensure the longevity and functionality of your tarp, ultimately safeguarding your home against rain, hail storms, and snow.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you secure a tarp to a flat roof?

To secure a tarp to a flat roof, it is advisable to start by placing a layer of thick plastic sheets over the tarp and securing them firmly using either staples or roofing nails. This added layer provides extra protection and prevents any potential damage caused by external elements. Additionally, to ensure proper insulation for the roofing system, it is recommended to use insulation material with a minimum R-value of 5. This helps maintain a stable temperature inside the building while reducing energy consumption and enhancing overall efficiency. By implementing these measures, you can effectively secure a tarp to a flat roof and safeguard your building from potential hazards.

What is the best way to cover a flat roof?

The best way to cover a flat roof depends on your specific needs and budget. Bitumen-based roof felt is a popular choice due to its affordability and durability. It provides a reliable waterproofing solution for flat roofs and can withstand varying weather conditions. However, if you are looking for a more flexible and long-lasting option that can resist sun damage, a butyl rubber based material might be the better choice. Its unique properties make it highly resistant to degradation caused by prolonged exposure to sunlight, ensuring the longevity and stability of your flat roof. Ultimately, weighing the pros and cons of each material will help determine the best way to cover your flat roof.

Can I tarp my roof myself?

It is highly recommended to avoid attempting to tarp your roof by yourself. The task requires proper safety training and equipment, especially if there has been a recent storm or you suspect roof damage. Wet roofs and loose shingles can create hazardous conditions that increase the risk of falling. It is best to seek professional assistance to ensure the job is done safely and effectively.

Can flat roofs be Tarped?

Yes, flat roofs can be tarped, although additional precautions must be taken to prevent water accumulation. Before tarping, it is crucial to manually remove any water to avoid pooling underneath or on top of the tarp. To further ensure water resistance, smaller holes can be effectively sealed using a reliable silicone sealant. By taking these measures, tarps can effectively protect flat roofs from various environmental elements.

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