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Question DetailsAsked on 5/20/2016

It is going to rain and I just deshingled my roof. I have no tarp. What may happen?

I'm reroofing my house myself.

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1 Answer


If the water barrier (tarpaper or synthetic roofwrap) is intact or has just a few tears that can be duct or vapor barrier taped after the shingle removal, then unless the rain is heavy or long-duration, you will probably not get much moisture through the nail or staple holes in it, probably not enough to wet the attic, and the sheathing will probably dry out in less than a day removing the water barrier.

If the water barrier is torn up or removed (as it usually is along with shingle removal) then you have bare roof sheathing, and if more than a sprinkle as soon as it starts running off the roof you WILL get water coming in through the gaps between the sheathing into the attic and insulation, and in a significant rain will likely soak through to your ceilings and cuase drywall discoloration and possible serious damage, plus soaking the sheathing which will have to be dried out well before reroofing. Mere wetting of the sheathing and maybe attic trusses/rafters and insulation on a one-time basis is not likely to cause damage as long as it dries out within a couple of days, but of course if you get days of rain on end or prolonged heavy rain, could get some real serious interior water damage, and the possibility of mold growing in the attic.

I would get cover on it - the classic blue tarps typically cost about 5-6¢/SF (up into the 7¢/SF for very largeones) and are commonly available at Lowes, Home Depot, other building supply places, many variety box stores, some hardware stores, and farm and outdoor equipment supply places - readily available up to about 20 or 30 feet by 50 feet - sometimes up to 50x50 or 40x60 feet in stock, and up to about 170x170 on special order (no use to you). The industrial supply places like Tractor Supply or John Deere dealers and larger home improvement box stores are more likely to have the larger sizes - so about a hundred to two $ to cover a normal size roof entirely for a say 40-50 by 50 foot area. Of course, if not a rectangular roof then might need several of different sizes.

Make sure any vertical joints (running up and down the roof slope) are overlapped about a foot - best if you overlap and fold the edges together one fold to prevent lateral migration of water and nail down with strips to hold the joints together. Horizontal joints (running across the width of the roof) overlap at least 6 inches and nail down. Best to avoid as many joints as possible, because each joint is a place for rain to blow up under in winds. Hold it down with cheap 2x4's nailed through the plastic into the sheathing or into the fascia/rake boards, with intermediate nailing strips at typically about 4-6 foot spacing for cheap lightweight tarp, or about 8-10 foot spacing between rows for better quality tarp. The tarp should overhang the edges as drip edges, and have 2x4 nailing strips around the edges - 2x2 works for intermediate "field" strips - using 10-12 penny common nails. Some people even use 2x2 edge strips and 1/2x2 survey lath (like 6 penny or shingle nails for lath) for intermediate field area but that will not hold well in heavy winds so your call on how much wind to count on in your area during rainstorms.

On tarp size - pay attention to weight if this is a DIY job - make sure it is not too heavy for you to carry or rope up to the roof.

For simply rain 6 mil visqueen will work too with lath holddowns - but will not survive significant winds, so not something I recommend. About $100 for 20x100 foot roll, but close to the cost of blue tarps (which also come in brown, green, and silver at times) and the 20 foot width means more lap joints.


Nother possibility - if the stripoff is completely done and you don't have shesthing replacement you have to do, and you have the time right now, can you just put the new water barrier up now ? Tarpaper will waterproof the roof adequately and if stapled fairly closely (3-4 inches) along the free edges and seams will withstand perhaps 30 mph winds or so, but because it stretches when wet can cause bunching and crease issues that need to be smoothed out (with some restapling) if rained on significantly, synthetic roofwrap with proper waterproof cap nails should hold down in all but very strong winds, and can sit exposed for a week or two no problem.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

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