What Are Different Types of Tarp Materials?

Different Types of Tarp Materials

Tarpaulins, often referred to as tarps, are versatile protective covers made from various materials like polyethylene, PVC, canvas, and mesh. Their significance spans across multiple domains, from construction sites to camping adventures. These durable tarp materials protect against harsh weather conditions, UV rays, and other environmental factors.

Whether shielding equipment on a construction site, covering outdoor furniture, or providing shelter during outdoor events, tarps are invaluable assets. Understanding the best materials for tarps is crucial for ensuring durability, longevity, and effective protection.

Let’s delve into the realm of tarp materials to uncover the ideal choice for your needs.

Different Materials for Tarpaulins

Various materials are used for tarpaulins, each offering unique characteristics suited to different needs:

Polyethylene Tarpaulin

Polyethylene Tarpaulin

Polyethylene tarpaulins are one of the most common and versatile options available. They are typically made from woven polyethylene fabric coated with a waterproofing material such as polyethylene or polyvinyl chloride (PVC).

Poly tarps are lightweight, making them easy to handle and transport. They offer excellent durability and resistance to tearing, UV rays, and mildew.

These tarpaulins are widely used for covering outdoor equipment, and vehicles, and as temporary shelters or ground cover.

PVC Tarpaulin

PVC Tarp Materials

PVC tarpaulins are made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC) coated fabric. They are known for their exceptional durability and resistance to harsh weather conditions.

Vinyl tarp materials are highly waterproof, making them suitable for applications where water protection is essential. Heavy-duty tarps are often used for long-term outdoor coverings such as truck tarps, boat covers, and industrial shelters.

While durable, PVC tarpaulins can be heavier and less flexible compared to other materials.

Canvas Tarpaulin

Canva Tarp Materials

Canvas tarpaulins are made from woven cotton or a cotton-polyester blend. They are known for their strength, durability, and breathability.

Canvas tarp materials offer good resistance to tearing and abrasion, making them suitable for heavy-duty applications. They are often used in construction, agriculture, and outdoor storage where breathability and protection against condensation are important.

While canvas tarpaulins are less waterproof than synthetic options, they can be treated with waterproofing agents for improved water resistance.

Mesh Tarpaulin

Mesh Tarp Materials

Mesh tarpaulins are made from woven polyethylene or polyester fabric with evenly spaced holes or perforations. They are designed to provide partial shade and airflow while still offering protection from debris, dust, and light rain.

Mesh tarp materials are commonly used for covering open-air storage areas, truck beds, and construction sites. They offer excellent breathability and are lightweight and easy to handle.

While not fully waterproof, mesh tarpaulins are ideal for applications where ventilation and visibility are priorities.

Each type of tarpaulin material has its advantages and is chosen based on specific requirements such as durability, waterproofing, breathability, and cost.

Factors to Consider When Choosing the Right Tarp Materials

When choosing the right material for tarpaulins, several factors need consideration:

Durability: Opt for tarp materials with strength, tear resistance, and UV resistance. This ensures longevity and reliability even in harsh weather conditions.

Waterproofing: The effectiveness of the material in repelling water is crucial. It should keep the contents protected from moisture, preventing damage or leakage.

Weight: Consider the weight of the material for portability and ease of handling. Lighter materials are easier to transport and manipulate, especially for temporary or mobile applications.

Cost: Strike a balance between quality and budget. While high-quality materials may come at a higher cost initially, they often offer better durability and performance, potentially saving money in the long run through reduced maintenance or replacement needs.

Care Tips for Prolonging Tarpaulin Lifespan

To extend the lifespan of your tarp and maximize its effectiveness, follow these essential care tips:

Regular Cleaning: Remove dirt, debris, and stains by gently scrubbing the surface with a mild detergent and water solution. Rinse thoroughly and allow it to dry completely before storage.

Avoid Sharp Objects: Keep sharp objects away from the tarp to prevent punctures or tears. When storing, ensure no abrasive surfaces could damage the material.

Proper Storage: Store the tarpaulin in a dry, well-ventilated area away from direct sunlight when not in use. Avoid folding it when wet to prevent mold and mildew growth.

Secure Installation: Properly secure the tarp to prevent flapping in strong winds, which can cause abrasion and damage to the material. Use suitable fasteners and tensioning techniques to maintain stability.

Inspect Regularly: Periodically inspect the tarp for signs of wear, tear, or damage. Promptly repair any small holes or tears using patch kits or waterproof adhesives to prevent them from worsening.

UV Protection: Apply a UV protectant spray to the tarpaulin to enhance its resistance to sun damage and prolong its lifespan when exposed to prolonged sunlight.

Avoid Chemical Exposure: Keep the tarp away from harsh chemicals or solvents that could weaken the material or cause discoloration. Clean spills promptly to prevent absorption.

By following these care tips diligently, you can ensure your tarpaulin remains in optimal condition for extended periods, providing reliable protection whenever needed.


Choosing the right material for tarpaulins is paramount for ensuring durability, effectiveness, and long-term protection. Factors such as durability, waterproofing, weight, and cost must be carefully considered to meet specific needs and budget constraints.

Whether opting for PVC, polyethylene, canvas, or mesh, each material offers unique benefits suited to different applications. By prioritizing the selection of the appropriate material and following proper care and maintenance practices, you can extend the lifespan of your tarpaulin and enhance its performance, providing reliable protection for your valuable assets in various environments.


What is the best material for waterproof tarpaulins?

The best material for waterproof tarps is PVC coated fabric. PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) coated tarps are known for their exceptional waterproofing properties, making them highly effective in repelling water and keeping the covered items dry. The PVC coating provides a durable and impenetrable barrier against moisture, making it the preferred choice for applications where waterproofing is essential.

Are PVC tarpaulins better than polyethylene?

PVC tarpaulins and polyethylene tarps each have their own advantages. PVC tarps are known for their exceptional durability and waterproofing properties, making them ideal for long-term outdoor use. On the other hand, polyethylene tarps are lightweight, cost-effective, and easy to handle, making them suitable for temporary applications or situations where portability is crucial. The choice between PVC and polyethylene depends on specific requirements such as durability, waterproofing, and budget constraints.

How long do canvas tarpaulins last?

Canvas tarps are renowned for their durability and longevity. When properly cared for and maintained, canvas tarps can last 5 to 10 years or more, depending on factors such as exposure to weather elements, frequency of use, and storage conditions. Regular cleaning, proper storage, and timely repairs can help extend the lifespan of canvas tarps, ensuring they remain effective for a considerable period.

Can mesh tarpaulins be used for covering outdoor equipment?

Yes, mesh tarpaulins can be used for covering outdoor equipment effectively. Mesh tarps offer several advantages, including breathability, allowing air to circulate, and preventing moisture buildup. This feature makes them suitable for covering outdoor equipment that requires ventilation, such as machinery, agricultural supplies, or sports equipment. Additionally, mesh tarps provide UV protection while still allowing some light to pass through, making them versatile for various outdoor applications.

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