Choices, choices. The world is full of them and the world of tarps is no different! The choice is dizzying, and can be confusing if you don’t know what you’re looking for. Use the information below to help ensure you’re getting the right tarp for your needs.
Common Tarp Materials
Just as tarps come in all shapes and sizes, they come in many different materials too. Each material has unique qualities that make it ideal for specific uses.
• Canvas. Canvas can be treated or untreated and comes in many colors. Untreated canvas is not water-resistant and is best suited for indoor use. They are widely used as drop cloths by painters. Treated canvas is almost always used outdoors because it can give off an odor and leave stains. Treated canvas is water and mildew resistant.
• Poly. You often see poly tarps in many colors: blue, brown, green, etc. Light-weight poly coverings can be found in almost any hardware store year-round. They are a great multi-purpose tarp used for a variety of purposes. Used as car covers, roof covers, woodpile covers, patio furniture coverings and for hauling or pulling yard waste and leaves, the poly tarp is a versatile and inexpensive way to protect items against the weather.
• PVC. PVC is completely waterproof and often see-through. This makes it an ideal choice for covering outdoor enclosures like gazebos, porches or tents that are used year-round or in adverse weather conditions. PVC is mildew, acid, grease, and oil- resistant, which makes these tarps long-lasting and easy to clean.
• Mesh. Knitted or mesh tarps are excellent at protecting delicate shrubs and trees from strong sunlight, cold winter winds or frost. These are often seen on tennis courts where they act as a windscreen and on trucks to cover loads that might blow out while the truck is moving. Mesh tarps are also often used in landscaping where they are laid down before planting or underneath gravel or woodchips. They are highly UV resistant.
• Vinyl. Vinyl tarps are durable and waterproof. Highly resistant to tears and punctures, they last a long time and are resistant to oil, grease, water, mildew and acid. This type is often used in heavy-duty applications like construction or as cross-country truck covers.
Terms Used To Describe Tarps
The weight and construction of the tarp plays a crucial role in how it can be used. Choosing the right one means understanding how strong it needs to be. The terms used to describe strength are: light-, heavy- and super heavy-duty.
To determine the quality and strength of the tarp look at:
1. Weight per square yard. Higher numbers equate to better quality.
2. Weave count. 10×8 weave count is considered light-duty while a 14×14 weave count is heavy-duty.
3. Denier. This measures the thickness of the material. The thicker the tarp, the more durable it is.
• Light-Duty. These are used in typical household applications such as woodpile coverings or for yardwork. They are thin and easy to maneuver and fold, but they tear more easily than heavier tarps and don’t last as long.
• Super Heavy-Duty. These are used in almost any situation. They work well as canopy covers, boat and truck covers or hay covers. They often have three layers – two outside layers covering a third middle layer. They are usually treated to make them waterproof and UV-resistant and are then heat sealed to seal the fabric. All of this makes the tarp more durable and long-lasting.
• Heavy-Duty. This strength is the middle ground between light duty and super heavy duty. They are manageable enough for homeowners to use in simple applications and are durable and long-lasting, making them a good choice for long-term needs. They are also used in construction and farming, boating, camping and for a variety of residential purposes like covering A/C units and patio furniture or grills, sandboxes and woodpiles.
Armed with this little bit of information you should be able to find the right tarp for your next project.