Installing Tar Paper

About a month ago, I was watching a neighbor of mine have their roof re-shingled and I noticed something very odd. The tar paper they were installing was being run from the top to the bottom. Now, to the regular eye this would not be a red flag, but as a contractor in the business for 25 years, I felt obliged to inform my neighbour. I quickly walked over and asked if they would mind if I spoke with the roofer on their behalf, to which they happily encouraged.

The purpose of tarpaper is to create a second barrier preventing water from entering the roof under the shingles from wind, ice damming, or shingles that have been removed from wind. It is simple to use and very efficient, when used properly.

This photo shows the correct way tar paper is to be installed – from side to side, starting at the bottom, which allows the water to flow down the roof under the shingles. When it is installed the opposite way, from the top to bottom, you have several areas where the water can enter in from the sides.


The funniest, yet most discouraging part of this story, is that the roofer informed me that all of his work is done with tarpaper running from the top to bottom. This is what I was afraid of, as this is someone who installs shingles for a living and should know how to install the barrier properly.

This left me wondering how many people run into issues with their roofs and improperly installed tar paper? If you have an experience to share, please do so! I look forward to hearing from you.

Dwayne Butler
President, Master Edge Homes