Your roof has been damaged and now you’re stuck with a leak. What’s your next move? Tarpaulin can be a great solution to support the protection of your home as you wait for repairs. In this buyer’s guide you can find out what tarpaulin is and how to apply it to your own property in times of need.

Table of contents:

What is Tarpaulin?

Tarpaulin, also known as tarp, is a product used to temporarily protect your roof after damage. Typically tarpaulin is designed to stop water getting inside the property. As such, if you are someone waiting for roof repair weeks or months ahead, this solution can be suitable for longer waiting times.

Although primarily tarpaulin is designed for use on external areas of the project, it can be used in other areas as well. For example, tarpaulin can be used as a protection material from paint, plaster and other indoor materials that you might not want affecting the interior look of your property.

What is GSM in tarpaulin?

GSM is an abbreviation for ‘Grams per Square Metre’. This is in reference to the weight of the material used in the manufacturing of tarpaulin. This type of grading is common amongst many suppliers and will become familiar to those wish to browse tarpaulin.

Check out our range of tarpaulin to see what you can use for your roof or other application.

What are the benefits of tarpaulin?

As stated, tarpaulin is great for protecting your roof from water. Having said this, it can also be used across a damaged skylight. As well as rain, tarpaulin can also protect roofs, brickwork, masonry and more construction-based structures from wind or sunlight.

The more prepared you are with tarpaulin, the quicker you can get back to living in a normal space during and after repairs.

Types of tarpaulin

Tarpaulin isn’t exempt from the option of choice. Choosing your type of tarpaulin will involve knowing the application you plan to use it in and the weight you will need to suit it. With any type of tarpaulin, however, it is important to do regular checks to ensure it is performing as necessary and that any damages are dealt with as soon as possible. Here are some of the benefits of the different types of tarpaulin you can choose from:

Type of tarpaulinAdvantagesDisadvantagesUses
Heavy-duty tarpaulin•Waterproof
•High durability
•Resistant to cold temperatures -20°C
•Poly rope around the edge
•Woven fabric tarpaulin
•Laminated with low-density polyethylene (LDPE)
•UV inhibited
•Not suited to weak surfaces•Temporary roof cover
•Groundwork covers
•Outdoor covers
Multi-purpose tarpaulin•Waterproof
•Resistant to cold temperatures -20°C
•Shorter lifespan
•Low durability
•Low weather resistance
•Brick courses
Poly tarpaulin•Waterproof
•Resistant to cold temperatures -20°C
•Cost affective
•Multiple application uses
•Shorter lifespan
•Low durability
•Low weather resistance
•Broken windows

Heavy-duty tarpaulin

The heavier the tarpaulin, the better durability. This has been a widely known rule amongst those in the industry for many years. As a result, it is highly recommended to use heavy-duty tarpaulin if it can be applied. Especially if the roof is to be covered for an extended period of time.

Do remember that if your surface is weak that this could risk the effectiveness of the tarpaulin. So consider heavy only if the surface is suited to such weight.


Multi-purpose tarpaulin is typically washable, rot proof and can be reused. Where the ‘multi-purpose’ comes from is in its uses across projects like; patios, brick courses and other various projects.

Unlike heavy-duty tarpaulin, this type of tarpaulin can be at higher risk of tears if placed on sharp surfaces. As such, the additional uses alongside the roof can be more appropriate for the use of tarpaulin.

Poly tarpaulin

Poly tarpaulin is manufactured from low-density polyethylene. It can be used to protect applications from adverse wind and rain. It can be used in various applications like; brickwork, foundations, masonry and much more. The poly tarpaulin is also resistant to cold temperatures – right down to -20°C.

Tarpaulin sizes

Tarpaulin sizes will affect your decision. So you will need to consider your options carefully. In fact one of, if not the, main factor will be the size of the area you wish to cover. Total coverage will need to be taken into account in m2. Once you have this, you can begin searching for the type of tarpaulin and the GSM needed.

Here is how you can install tarpaulin onto your roof!

What you will need

How to fix tarpaulin to a roof

The following steps are here to help you know how to install tarpaulin onto your roof.

Step by step

Step one: Examine the area that will be covered. You can do this by climbing up a ladder to do so. You should also check on the ceiling inside for any leaks or other damage that might be a problem inside the property.

Please note: When using the ladder for the inspection, do not risk standing on a roof that is too steep or slippery; inspect the roof from the ladder instead.

Step two: Clean any debris from the roof. Branches, leaves and any other debris.This can be done using a broom or similar brush tool. You might need support from another person if any debris is particularly difficult to remove (e.g. heavy branches).

Note: Debris can risk your tarp being damaged, so it is best to remove it as soon as you can.

Step three: Measure the area size of the damage. This will be vital in choosing the tarpaulin type and size for the application. You can measure it using a simple tape measure, calculating the width by length to work out the surface area of the damage.

Tip: If there are any major areas of damage, such as holes, then you can apply a sheet of plywood to the area using suitable screws for further protection for water leaking into the property once the tarp has been applied.

Step four: Choose your tarp and make sure you have at least four feet of excess tarp for use. Heavy-duty tarp is recommended, but if the roof cannot take the weight then make sure to choose a suitable alternative. Poly tarpaulin or multi-purpose tarpaulin are good alternatives.

Step five: No matter whether the tarp comes folded or as a roll, it is important to open it up via the corners. Once opened, cover the damaged area.

Note: Extra tarp can hang safely from the edge – so no need to cut the tarp unless the cover is extensive.

Step six: Make sure the tarp is weighed down and pulled tight for maximum coverage security. If you have decided to apply it during more adverse weather conditions, then this can help keep it in place as you prepare to secure it.

Step seven: On the tarp side facing the damaged part of the roof, you will need to attach the 2 x 4 planks to the tarp using screws. Do not attach it to the roof just yet. It is also not recommended to use drywall screws or non/badly galvanized screws. You can also use nails, but make sure they are galvanized. Whichever you decide to use, they must be able to pass securely through the tarp and into the plank.

Step eight: Once all edges of the tarp have been attached to the 2 x 4 planks, you will need to wrap the tarp around the planks for an even more secure placement. This can then be screwed directly into the roof through the 2 x 4 planks already inserted. You will want to place further 2 x 4 planks on the non-damaged edges of the tarp to make sure there is no risk to water leaking through the tarp into the property.

Remember that this is a temporary solution, so you will need to check for damages inside your home once the tarp has been dealt with. Do not walk on the tarp once it has been secured as this can not only risk further damage to the roof, but also be a slip hazard; especially in wet weather.

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