Getting Your Home Repaired

Understanding Roofing Papers & How They Can Be Repaired

If you live in a hind wind area, then you may know that winds in your area reach a five, six, or seven on the Beaufort scale. This means that wind speeds are likely to reach speeds that are up to 50 or 60 miles per hour. While most asphalt shingles are rated to withstand these strong wind speeds, you may notice some significant damage across your roof if a fast moving branch hits your home. Many branches can reach through the shingles to the point where they scratch or scrape the roofing felt. If you want to know what roofing felt is and also how you can repair a hole in it, keep reading.

What Is Tar Paper?

The very base of your roof is the deck that makes up the structural foundation of the roof. The deck is formed from either plywood or wood strand board in most cases. The wood is more than strong enough to withstand stress from loads, but the wood is hygroscopic. This means that it tends to absorb water from the air. It also will absorb any fluids that work their way underneath the asphalt shingles. A wet deck can swell and also rot. This can cause warping issues as well as structural weaknesses. 

To reduce the chance of the wood deck coming into contact with water, a protective membrane is secured over the wood. The membrane is tar paper or roofing felt. Both of these materials may be used and they are slightly different from one another. Tar paper and roofing felt are both made from a base of fiberglass. The fiberglass is covered with tar if it is tar paper and it is covered with asphalt if it is roofing felt. Both tar and asphalt are petroleum-based products that allow the roofing material to remain waterproof.

The roof membrane typically comes in wide rolls of material that are around 36 inches wide. The rolls of material are laid out on the roof and then overlapped over one another several inches. Each seam is then stapled or nailed down to secured it. Roofing cement may be used along seams as well. However, the layering process is often enough to create a solid and waterproof surface.

How Is Tar Paper Fixed?

Since tar paper is constructed with overlapping seams, the barrier works as a single sheet of material to keep water from leaking into your home. This means that you cannot simply remove one section of the paper and replace it. However, you can and should patch the opening. You want to start your repair by using a utility knife to cut away the damaged paper. Inspect the edges around the cut to make sure they are intact. You want to secured these edges to the decking. You will need special nails for this that will not cause the tar paper to rip. This is important since the nails are not spaced out like the others across the paper. The nails are cap nails that have small metal or plastic discs that sit between the nail head and the paper. 

Place the disc nails around the circumference of the cut edge. You will need a small bit of tar or felt paper to replace the paper you removed. If can be hard to tell if your roof was originally constructed with tar paper or roofing felt. However, the felt is more common than tar paper, so you should buy a piece of roofing felt. If your roof is formed with tar paper instead, the felt will still work well as a patch. 

Cut a piece of tar paper that is at least three inches larger on each side of the hole. To secure the patch, you will need to use roofing cement or liquid nails, so purchase a tube of one of these materials. Spread a bead of the adhesive around the perimeter of the patch, flip it over, and press it firmly over the opening. The cement will usually take about one day to dry, so let the adhesive cure. You can install one or several new roofing shingles over the paper afterwards. 

To learn more about roofing paper, contact a local roofing contractor. 


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