How to Fix a Hole in the Roof

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Things You'll Need

  • Eye protection

  • Rubber-sole work shoes

  • Tool belt or nail pouch

  • Extension ladder

  • Pry bar

  • Hammer

  • Reciprocating saw

  • Jigsaw

  • 2-by-4

  • 1 ½-inch deck screws

  • Screw gun

  • Roofing nails

  • 10-penny nails

  • 8-penny nails

  • Plywood

  • Roofing tar

  • Tar paper

  • Shingles


Match the shingle colors by purchasing the same type and color as on the roof. Most shingle colors will match closely within a few weeks of weather exposure.


Work cautiously on rooftops to avoid falling. Some people become dizzy on rooftops or ladders. If you experience this, brace your self and close your eyes with your head down until the feeling subsides. Leave all work at heights to others if dizziness occurs repeatedly.

A hole in the roof invites disaster--from water damage on drywall and flooring to animal infestation. Temporary patch jobs are only effective until the rain starts. Repairing a roof should be a top priority for any homeowner. Handyman types who are comfortable on a roof can use basic carpentry skills to make this home repair without hiring a roofing contractor.


Step 1

Wear safety goggles and rubber-sole work shoes. Use an extension ladder with the third rung against the eave to access the roof. Carry tools in a tool belt.

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Step 2

Take up the shingles over the hole. Slip a pry bar under the shingles above the affected area to pull out the nails holding the damaged shingles. Use hammer claws to help remove all nails from the shingles over the hole.

Step 3

Prepare the plywood or sheathing around the hole. If the hole is a cutout for a vent, the wood may be ready for repair. A hole from tree damage will be oddly shaped and splintered. Use a reciprocating saw to cut a square or rectangle shape around the hole and remove all splintered wood. Cut the plywood in half between the rafters if the hole is big enough.


Step 4

Patch the wood with plywood of the same thickness. Install a 2-by-4 brace under a small hole that extends three times the width of the opening. Hold it against the inside of the plywood by pulling up through the hole while driving deck screws through the roof and into the brace. Use a jigsaw to cut a rounded shape from the plywood to the exact size of the hole. For large patches, nail 2-by-4 braces inside the existing rafters with 10-penny nails. Replace a plywood section with new plywood cut to fit the exact size. Nail the plywood sheet section to the braces with 8-penny nails. Cover the wood borders and bracing screws on top of any roof patch with roofing tar.

Step 5

Lay roofing felt or tar paper over the missing shingles. Slip the top of the paper in under the flaps of the shingles above the repair. Lay the upper sheet of tar paper 2 inches over the lower if two sheets are needed to cover the section. Nail tar paper on with roofing nails over every 18 inches of the perimeter and along any overlapping sheets.


Step 6

Lay new shingles over the repair section. Remove the adhesive cover strip and lay the bottom row of shingles first. Use three roofing nails across the horizontal center line to secure each shingle. Cover the lower row with the flaps from the next row up. Tuck the straight edges of the uppermost row under the remaining shingles and nail them under the flaps. Dab roofing tar over each fresh nail for added water protection.