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How Long Can You Leave a Tarp on a Roof?

How Long Can You Leave a Tarp on a Roof?

Roof damage is devastating, and repairs can take weeks, if not longer. Leaving your home open to the elements is not an option. But the savvy homeowner knows that a tarp is an excellent quick fix.

However, after your emergency goes from a red alert to work in progress, your temporary solution might feel like a ticking time bomb. So how long can you leave a tarp on a roof?

While most professionals don’t recommend leaving your roof tarped for more than three months, there are more factors to keep in mind. Read on to learn about roof tarping, the best methods to use, and answers to your frequently asked questions!

Why Tarp a Roof?

Suppose your roof leaks after significant water damage after a heavy storm, natural disaster, or lengthy periods of rainfall. In that case, you may need to consider a temporary solution while waiting for repairs.

Many American households are affected yearly by falling trees, hurricanes, and even hail. Fixing a water-damaged roof can be costly and lengthy. During that time, you don’t want the water damage to your home to get any worse.

Allowing your roof to be temporarily tarped is a simple, cost-effective solution to your problem. It buys you time and protects your household while repairs are underway.

What to Consider When Choosing a Tarp for Your Roof

Covering your exposed home with whatever is on hand might be your first impulse. However, there are a few careful considerations when choosing a tarp for your roof.

Here are just a few considerations you should keep in mind.

Water and Mold Resistance

When trying to protect your roof from leaks, the most crucial consideration is whether or not your tarp is waterproof.

Most tarps consist of materials that are at the very least water-resistant. However, this water rating may not be enough to protect your home.

Your tarp needs to be more than just water-resistant. A completely waterproof tarp is necessary, preferably one that is also treated with special chemicals to prevent the spread of mold or fungus.


There are different grades of tarps, ranging from the lighter to the heavier. Understandably, you may feel tempted to take a tarp on the lighter side, which would be easier to self-install. However, a tarp that is too light may not survive heavy weather or last the long term.

Rain Dropping On Roof

Ideally, you want a thickness that survives weather conditions but will be easy enough to work with and nail down with roofing nails. We recommend a thickness of 12 mils. It’s right between lightweight and heavy-duty, so it will be the perfect middle ground.


Tarps are great insulators. A simple covering will make a big difference when camping or covering something during winter like machinery. Unfortunately, this will not insulate as well as your roof would for an entire house, and you may notice this in the colder months.

Weather is another reason you should ensure that your tarp is thick and undamaged. After a snowstorm, a too-thin tarp will not retain heat effectively. The escaping warmth could melt the snow, causing a build-up of water and leaks.

Why You Should Hire a Professional to Tarp Your Roof

Nailing down your tarp yourself might seem a practical solution, especially for those with some home improvement skills. However, some critical factors could inform your decision to hire a professional.

The first problem is cost. Without already available materials on hand, you could end up spending more money than hiring one.

Another consideration is safety. Navigating a damaged roof is hazardous work. While you may believe you have a firm understanding of the affected area of your home, a trained professional has learned how to avoid hazards. They understand the signs of a damaged area that you may not have.

To avoid making things worse, injuring yourself or loved ones, and overspending on repair tools, always consider whether a pro could get the job done better, safer, and quicker.

Frequently Asked Questions

We’ve put together a list of your most frequently asked questions. Read on to find out everything else you need to know about tarping up your roof.

Can You Tarp a Roof for the Winter?

A damaged roof can be protected over winter with a tarp, although the cold air may still get in. Tarped roofs can last over a year, but most professionals consider three months the maximum length. Your tarped roof may well last an entire winter, but getting repairs sorted sooner could save you a lot of trouble.

The more water and frost your house takes on, the more it becomes at risk of leaks, mold, or rot. If you have tarped your roof yourself, you may have missed areas that are still exposed, putting the home at risk of further damage.

With these risks, it is best to hire roof repair as soon as possible. Your tarp will protect you from snow and water but will not protect you from temperature, and you can even run into trouble with heating insulation.

Can I Staple a Tarp to My Roof?

There would be little point in stapling a tarp to your roof. While the staples might hold at first, bad weather or even moderate winds will likely tear them off quickly. Stapling is not a good long-term solution.

Roofing nails will do a much better job keeping your tarp in place. These nails are specially designed to pierce roofing materials and stay in place. At the same time, they are easy to remove when it comes time to repair your roof.

How Much Should It Cost to Tarp a Roof?

Costs can differ drastically based on your area, accessibility, and roof size. On average, the cost can be anywhere from $200 to $1,500 for a standard-sized roof (1600 square feet).

However, several factors impact this, including if your roof is significantly larger, hard to access, or you need emergency repairs late at night or on the weekend. These factors tend to drive up the prices. Material costs, labor, location, and reason for the damage also factor into the total cost of a tarped roof.

To find out how much your particular job will cost, you will likely have to seek out a professional quote. Most contractors will give you a free estimate.

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A roof emergency can be overwhelming, and financial and emotional stress can get overpowering quickly. Luckily, taking advantage of temporary emergency measures can help buy you time and money to deal with your problem with a clear head. Tarping is an excellent solution to roof damage that can help curb further water damage and leaks.

If a weather incident or other circumstance has left you needing a quick solution to roof damage, call All Dry USA. With years of experience in home repairs, we have a team on-hand to help you with emergency roof tarp and repairs. Call us to tarp your home in the safe and effective way.


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