Repairing Damaged Roll Roofing

Mid Atlantic Construction and Technology doesn’t ever recommend you fixing your roof by yourself. If you need help fixing your roof, our company will be glad to offer you a free inspection. But even if you do decide to go against our warning and still want to do it, there’s a set of instructions we can give you and hopefully you can get your roofing project done successful.


Look for cracks or blisters in the roofing material.
 As you would with a shingle roof, check for damage on the exterior that corresponds with the water stains you’ve seen on the ceiling. Look closely for small cracks around joints, vents, chimneys, or other objects that come through the roof. More obvious signs of leaks include open splits in the roofing material and blisters or bubbles where water and air have collected.[7]

  • You can mend a small gap at a joint, vent, or chimney with roofing sealant. Any gaps wider than 14 in (0.64 cm), open splits, or blistered areas will need to be patched.
  • Like shingle repairs, mending minor damage to asphalt or rubber roll roofing is relatively easy. However, if you notice widespread wear, water stains, mold, or rot on the roof or ceiling, call a professional.

Cut any blisters or bubbles to release air and water. Sweep away any gravel from the damaged area, then carefully slice through the middle of the blister with a utility knife. Cut only through the blister at the top layer of roofing; do not cut the roof substrate, or the fiberboard beneath the rubber or asphalt.[8]

  • If the blister contained water, soak it up with a dry rag. After thoroughly mopping up water, allow it to dry for 12 to 24 hours. If you’re in a rush, dry it out with a blow dryer; just be sure it’s completely dry before you attempt repairs.
  • Blisters often occur with leaks in roll roofing. If there’s no blister associated with your leak, skip this step and proceed to mending the tear.

Spread a generous amount of roofing cement under the split. Inspect the fiberboard substrate beneath the tear in the rubber or asphalt. If the substrate is sound, use a small trowel to apply a heavy layer of cement under the edges of the tear. Push the cement as far under the edges as you can without further tearing the roofing material.[9]

  • After cementing the edges of the tear, press it down flat, then drive galvanized roofing nails along each side of mend in 3 in (7.6 cm) intervals.
  • If the fiberboard substrate is unsound, you’ll need to replace the damaged section.


Replace the roofing substrate, if necessary.
 If you’re dealing with a large, open seam, check the roof substrate beneath the rubber or asphalt for rot or holes. If it’s failing, use a straightedge and sharp utility knife to remove the damaged area. Carefully cut a rectangle-shaped section that contains all of the damaged roofing material.[10]

  • Check for and remove any metal washers and screws that secure the roof substrate to the structure beneath it.
  • Using the section you removed as a template, cut a new piece of substrate from a sheet of high-density fiberboard, which you can purchase at your local hardware store.
  • Set the new substrate into place, then secure it with 1 12 in (3.8 cm) roofing screws with built-in hex washers.


Cover the repaired area with a patch of roll roofing.
 If you didn’t need to replace the roof substrate, cut a patch of tar paper or rubber roll roofing 12 in (30 cm) wider and longer than the mended section. Apply a generous layer of roof cement over the repaired tear, then set the patch over the cement-covered area. Press it lightly, and drive 1 14 in (3.2 cm) galvanized roofing nails around the patch’s edges in 3 in (7.6 cm) intervals.[11]

  • If you did replace the substrate, add layers of rubber roll roofing until the area is flush with the surrounding roofing material. Cut a piece of tar paper or rubber roll roofing 12 in (30 cm) wider and longer than the repair area, apply a generous layer of cement, then set the patch over the cement-covered mend.[12]
  • After setting the patch in place, press it lightly and drive roofing nails around its perimeter. Ensure the nails that secure the patch don’t overlap with any hardware you’ve used to hold the fiberboard substrate in place.


Add a final layer of roofing cement for a watertight patch.
 After covering the mend with the patch, use your trowel to apply a heavy layer of roofing cement over the entire repaired area. Spread the cement over the patch’s perimeter, and be sure to cover the nail heads. Use a putty knife to feather the cement past the patch’s edges, and try to make a smooth surface that won’t collect water.[13]

  • If your roll roofing is asphalt, spread a layer of asphalt gravel over the cement while it’s still wet. This will help protect the roofing material.
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