How to Use Tar Paper Under Siding

Before installing siding to the structure of a home, it is important to fasten some type of water-resistant membrane to the house.
Apply a layer of tar paper to the house prior to siding.Apply a layer of tar paper to the house prior to siding.
Tar paper is an excellent, economical option for lining a house prior to installation of siding material. Fastening tar paper prior to siding installation will ensure that any moisture not deflected by the siding will be prevented from soaking into the underlying structure of the home and causing damage. Installing tar paper involves using a few specialized tools and making sure to properly overlap the seams from one sheet of paper to the next.

Step 1

Start at the bottom and work your way up. Fasten the tar paper to a stud at least 4 feet from the corner of the house and work your way around from there. Fasten the tar paper to each stud with corrosion-resistant nails fitted with plastic washers. Space the fasteners 12 inches apart along the length of each stud.

Step 2

Overlap the adjacent seams by 12 to 18 inches. Fasten the end of one sheet of tar paper to a stud length beyond the end of the sheet being overlapped to ensure greater water resistance.

Step 3

Overlap lower sheets with the base edge of the upper sheets. Position each subsequent course of tar paper so that the bottom edge overlaps the course beneath by 8 to 10 inches.

Step 4

Cut tar paper to fit inside window and door frames. Use a utility knife to cut an “X” shape out of the window or door frame, then fold the paper into the frame. Fasten the material to the inside of the frame and cut away excess tar paper with your utility knife or a pair of industrial scissors.

Step 5

Tape all the seams between adjacent and overlapping sheets of tar paper with seam tape. Press the tape down by hand to make sure it bonds properly with the surface of the tar paper and seals the seams.

Things You Will Need

  • Tar paper
  • Hammer
  • Corrosion-resistant nails fitted with plastic washers
  • Utility knife
  • Industrial scissors
  • Seam tape


  • "Housewrap" is more commonly used than tar paper these days. The installation process is the same for either material.

About the Author

Robert Howard has been writing professionally since 2004 and writes a weekly column for the "Synthesis," a Chico, Calif.-based newspaper. He maintains a blog and has published articles and works of fiction in a variety of different print and online magazines. Howard holds a Bachelor of Arts in visual arts from the University of California, San Diego.