Free-cycled Tarping




Introduction: Free-cycled Tarping

About: I'm an electrician by trade. I love to fix things, make things and imagine a better world.

Do you have a leaky carport?
Is it too dilapidated to warrant re-roofing?
Do you want a temporary solution without spending money?
Or maybe you just need a cheap tarp.
I submit to you, gentle reader, the:
"Amazing DIY Free-cycled Temporary Patched-up Redneck Roof/Shelter/Tarpaulin Repair Instructable"
or ADIYFTPURRSTRI for short.

*As with any project there is some risk involved in its execution.  Be careful and stay safe.  And as one of my foremen used to say at all of our safety meetings, "Don't be dumb."

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Step 1: Scavenge Materials

As with any project, before you can begin, you will need things to work with; both tools and materials.

Tools required/recommended:
1) Fastening implement and appropriate fasteners .  These can include, but are not limited to: hammer and nails, driver and screws, stapler and staples, thumbs and tacks, teeth and gum.  Results may vary with fastening choices.  To keep costs down, use what you have available.

2) Cutting implement . Such as: scissors, knife(s), shears, epee, hatchet, spoon, paper. Again - Results May Vary.

3) Anchors .  Any of the following will suffice: rocks, stones, boulders, bricks, anchors, weighted cubes (companion or otherwise), small children, large children, huge yellow slab-like somethings. R.M.V.

Materials needed/suggested:
1) Lumber Tarps.   The bigger the better.  I found two which had been used for 10' material (2x10 etc), the resulting tarps are quite large.
Most lumber stores just throw them out.  A good approach is to find out what day they have their bin emptied and go the day before, or better yet ask if they could put some aside for you.  (More notes on tarp selection later)

2) Adhesive.  Duct Tape, Sheathing Tape, 8 Track Tape, Tape Worm.  This along with your fasteners are the only items you might need to purchase.

3) Strapping.   Lumber is usually shipped with slats of wood separating the stacks.  These are usually also available for free form the lumber yard.  Cutting down 2x4 also works.  Alternatively you could use washers as a substitute.  (more on this later)

Step 2: Tarp Prep

Choose a warm, dry, calm day to do this and any subsequent steps.  If you have a large clean indoor floor space that will also work.

Photo 1: Unfold your tarp and clean it off a bit, a good shake should do it.  If it is wet lay it out to dry, both sides.  Weigh the corners and sides down, the lightest breeze will blow these things clear across town.

Photo 2: This next bit is crucial ! I mean, really, it is important so pay attention.
Carefully examine your tarp and remove ALL the staples. 
I'll say it again.
Carefully, look over the entire tarp, and remove all the sharp, pointy, little staples.
You'll thank me later.

Photo 3: Next, turn your tarp black side up if you haven't already. (Assuming it has a black side, but all the lumber tarps I've seen so far do.)
The reason for turning your tarp black side up is that it's a lot easier to see damage on this side.

See all the little white spots, those are holes from the staples.

Photos 4+5: Since we want this tarp water proof, holes are no good. 
First take off your shoes and step out onto your tarp (I told you you'd thank me).
(We take our shoes off to prevent making more holes as we walk on the tarp.)
Now, grab that roll of adhesive film (I used Duct Tape) and start taping up holes.  You want to make sure your tape extends about 1/2" around all side of the hole.

If you want to avoid doing too much taping you could cut off the edges of the tarp where most of the holes are - this will of course give you a much smaller tarp.

Photo 6: Once you've taped everything shut, flip your tarp and repeat.
The holes should be pretty easy to spot now that they have duct tape showing through.

Photos 7+8: Larger areas of damage may require patching, cut a small piece of tarp (without holes) and tape it over the area in question.

Step 3: Now What? Red Neck Roof Repair

So now you have a lovely free-cycled tarp, ready for use in any manner you see fit.
If that manner is to patch up your leaky car port roof, you're ramshackle shed, your dog house, then stay tuned; if it's anything else... you're on your own - or ask me in the comments section.

NOTE: I don't advise this method for a building roof repair (temporary or otherwise).  The tarps are mostly water resistant, but I can't guarantee 100% that it won't leak, nor would I trust it to too much wind.  If my carport leaks the worst that happens is my car gets wet, if my house roof leaks... not so good.

Enough warnings. 

Photo 2: Before you lay your lovely new tarp out on your roof do yourself a favour and give it a good sweep.  No point putting holes in a tarp you just patched.

This is the part where you get to learn from my mistakes.  In an effort to get better overlapping etc. I went about things a little backward.  That being said some of the pictures might not be entirely accurate.  Please note the instructions and tags.

Regardless of what your roof is like the procedure is going to be pretty much the same.  Starting at the bottom edge of the roof, tack your first tarp in place along the front edge of the roof with only enough staples to hold it in place.  (Photo 4) Then using your strapping thoroughly tack it down over the overhanging edge of your tarp.  The strapping will keep the tarp from tearing at the staples in high wind.  (Whatever you use as strapping the basic purpose of it is to act as support to the tarp.  The staples will want to pull through the tarp if there is not something with a larger surface area preventing them from doing so.)

Once the tarp is properly stapled flip it up and over on to the roof.  It might be good to have someone help you with this for a minute as the tarp will want to catch on any corner or outcropping it can find.

Photo 5:  Pull the tarp snug and tack it right to the roof.  (The strapping in this picture was temporary just to hold the corner down while I pulled the other side tight - staples alone tend to tear through the tarp.)  We don't need a ton of staples here or strapping yet, the next step will cover that.

Photo 6:  Now we basically repeat the previous procedure until the roof is done.  Fasten your second tarp (face down) over the edge of the first tarp, using strapping.  Your staples will go through the strapping, through the second tarp, through the first tarp and finally into the roof.  Once it's fastened flip it up, pull it snug and tack the top edge.

Step 4: The Last Tarp - Finishing It Off.

My roof was flat and met up with the house so I'll cover that procedure first, if your roof is peaked I'll address that a little further on.

The Last Tarp is a little different.  Instead of strapping the bottom and flipping it up we're going to strap the top first and roll the bottom under.

Make sure that your tarp is going to be large enough to overlap the previous tarp.

Photo 1:  If you have a situation like mine, where the roof meets a gable or wall, roll the tarp length wise as shown. Fold the top (gable) edge of the tarp under.  My carport roof actually goes under the gable end so I slipped the folded top edge of the trap under that lip.

Photos 2+3: Working under the rolled tarp tuck wood slats to the edge nearest the wall/gable and staple through them and the tarp edge which you folded under. Work along the entire length of the roof, then unroll the tarp.

(If you have a peaked roof, do both sides leaving a portion at the peak narrow enough to cover both sides with one tarp.  Fasten the last tarp on one side as you have been previously.  That is strap it  face down overlapping the previous row and tack it.  Then fold it over the strapping in this case to the other side of the roof. Proceed as follows.

Photo 4: Roll/fold the bottom edge of the tarp under, pull it tight, place a piece of strapping over it and tack it in place.  This is the one place where there is exposed strapping and where there are staples through our top surface.  However, this shouldn't be an issue.  The staples shouldn't leak because they will seal into the wood, especially as it swells when it gets wet.  Also as I said before this is a temporary fix intended to keep the majority of the water out - a drip or two in my case are acceptable.  If you really want it to be water tight you could seal this up with duct tape (or better yet hurricane tape $$) but I'm not sure how much that'll help or how well it'll hold up.

Photo 5:  Finally strap, staple and trim the sides, tucking it in at the corners.

And you're done.

Step 5: Final Notes

The front of the carport ended up with a section that had a lot of logos and branding on it - not too attractive.  In an effort to not completely alienate myself from my neighbours, I spray-painted it white to match the majority of the tarp.

The reason I didn't put the tarp black side up is because it's not ordinarily used that way.  I simply don't know if the two sides of the tarp are any different from one another (other than colour).  I didn't want to take any risks with UV or waterproof-ness so I went with labels up.

As to durability I did this in July and apart from a few minor leaks at the beginning, the tarp has worked amazingly well.  I has almost stopped leaking all together now.  It seems to be holding up great, with little to no signs of wear - even the paint is holding up.  I'll try to update on durability as time goes by.

Finally, if you do this on a summer day, slap on some sunscreen; otherwise it really does become a red neck project - trust me.

If you have any questions or any ideas on how this could be improved let me know in the comments section.

Good luck!

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    2 Discussions


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Fantastic! I don't have a car or a carport or any reason to try this. . but it looks like a great project!


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks! I'd say that I hope you someday have reason to try this... but I don't really wish a leaky carport on anyone. Maybe someday you'll just need a tarp to cover one of your amazing projects.