How to Choose the Right Tarp for Your Next Big Project
Tarps (also known by their full name, tarpaulins) are useful tools to have on hand for countless types of residential, commercial, and industrial projects. To put it simply, there’s a tarp for just about any purpose—you just have to know what you need.
Many of our clients come to us for guidance about which tarp is the right fit for their next big project, so we’ve put together this quick guide to differentiate between our four most common tarp options: mesh tarps, PVC vinyl tarps, poly (PE) tarps, and canvas tarps.
We’ll explain what each tarp is, any special features it has, limitations to be aware of, and the industries and use cases that the tarp is best suited for. In general, tarps vary on a number of factors including their material, shape, size, thickness, grommet spacing, sun protection, water resistance, flame protection, and more. And when you have an important use in mind, it’s critical to choose the right tarp for your specific application.
Use the information below to guide your selection, and don’t hesitate to contact us if you need one-on-one guidance to be sure of your choice. We’re happy to help!
We’ll start with our bestselling option, which is our mesh tarps. Mesh tarps are incredibly versatile and can be adapted to a variety of industries and use cases. All of our mesh tarps are UV-resistant, tear-resistant, mildew-resistant, and acid-resistant, making them useful in situations where a bit of extra durability is required. They range from 40-95% shade, giving you flexibility over how much sunlight you’d like to let through the tarp. For this reason, they’re perfect for outdoor shade screens, privacy enclosures, and wind screens.
Mesh tarps are widely used in the trucking, construction, and agriculture industries in addition to the home uses we’ve shared above. We can custom-make mesh tarps in any shape and size, and they’re available by the roll.
If you’re looking for something even more durable, vinyl tarps are likely the right fit for your project. Our vinyl tarps are our strongest and most long-lasting tarps, made of industrial heavy-duty vinyl. They’re commonly used for both residential and commercial use and are popular in the trucking, construction, agricultural, and industrial industries.
Vinyl tarps are 100% waterproof and oil-, acid-, grease-, mildew-, and UV-resistant. They can be made to resist fire, and we sell both the fire-resistant and non-fire-resistant types. Vinyl tarps are also abrasion-resistant, meaning they can endure pokes and scratches without much risk of puncturing through. These tarps can last over ten years with proper care, so they’re ideal for long-term projects and applications.
Like our mesh tarps, our vinyl tarps can be custom-made in any shape and size you might need for your project. They’re also available in a variety of weights, ranging from 10 oz. to 40 oz. We’d recommend the 10 oz. or 14 oz. tarps for lightweight uses, while the 18 oz., 22 oz., and 40 oz. options will be best for heavy-duty projects. Note that because of the strength of your vinyl options, they’re more costly than the other options on the list, and the cost increases with the weight you select.
Last but not least, vinyl tarps come in a variety of color options, including clear/transparent. Our clear vinyl tarps combine all the durability and longevity benefits explained above with the ability to let light into your project space. They’re especially popular for patio coverings (thanks to their full protection from inclement weather) and other day-to-day uses. They also prove useful for construction projects that need protection from the elements along with natural light exposure.
Next on our list is poly tarps, which are popular with a wide variety of customers thanks to their lightweight and affordable nature. Poly tarps are made of polyethylene, the most common plastic material on the market. Poly tarps come in a wide range of colors and sizes, increasing the likelihood that you can find the right fit for your needs.
Because poly tarps are more lightweight and cost-effective than the other tarps we offer, they’re best for quick projects and short-term fixes that aren’t necessarily designed to last. While your poly tarp may hold up for a short time and won’t stretch or tear in most common situations, it doesn’t compare to the durability of a vinyl tarp or even a mesh tarp.
Our poly tarps are 100% waterproof, making them ideal for use in the construction, roofing, lawn and garden, and agriculture industries. For situations that require fire-resistance, fire-resistant poly tarps are also available.
Last but not least, our canvas tarps offer a fourth option for those looking for breathable tarps that allow moisture to evaporate. (On the other hand, if you’re looking for canvas tarp that will stand up to water, we can treat our standard canvas tarps for water resistance as needed.)
Our natural canvas tarps are commonly used as painting drop cloths and covers for outdoor machinery and equipment. They’re the perfect barrier material for drips, light debris, and spills—if you opt for the water-resistant version.
There you have it: four incredible tarp materials that serve virtually every use case imaginable. To make sure the differences are especially clear, we’ll leave you with a quick overview to take away as you start your next project.
Mesh tarps are great for a variety of uses with medium durability. Vinyl tarps are the best option if you need something especially heavy-duty and/or long-lasting. Poly tarps are the most cost-effective choice and work well for short-term applications, and canvas tarps are best for breathable projects and surface coverings. It’s that simple!
If you’re still not quite sure what you need, reach out to our team here and we can provide custom guidance for your specific use case. It’s important to us that every customer has the opportunity to make an informed decision about their purchase, and we want to set your project up for success. If we can help instill confidence in your choice, don’t hesitate to let us know! We can’t wait to see what you accomplish.