Canvas vs. Vinyl Tarps

Selecting the right tarp is not as easy as it may seem. There are many different options to choose from, which makes finding the right one much more challenging. It’s best to narrow down your options by choosing the tarp material first. Two of the most popular tarp materials are canvas and vinyl. Canvas is a natural material made out of 100% cotton, whereas vinyl is a synthetic plastic. Which is the right material for your needs? Take a look at these pros and cons of each material before making this decision:

The Look and Feel

The most obvious difference between canvas and vinyl tarps is the look and feel of each material. Canvas is known as a more rugged and natural material, so it has a coarse texture and matte appearance. On the other hand, the surface of vinyl is slightly glossy, so it has a bit of shine. Vinyl has a rubber-like texture, making it much smoother than canvas.

The Durability

Another important factor to consider when choosing a tarp is the material’s durability. Both canvas and tarp are heavy duty, durable materials that are designed to withstand wear and tear. However, the durability of canvas cannot compare to the unparalleled durability of vinyl. Vinyl tarps tend to last longer than other tarps because they are difficult to damage, so keep this in mind when making your decision.

Resistance to Environmental Elements

Tarps may be exposed to a number of environmental elements, including heat, water, and wind. For this reason, it is important to know how well the tarp will hold up when exposed to these elements.

All vinyl is waterproof whereas treated canvas tarps are water resistant. These two terms may seem similar, but they are actually very different. Waterproof means that the material is not affected or damaged in any way when exposed to water. This means there’s no need to panic if a vinyl tarp is accidentally exposed to water. However, the term water resistant means that the material can prevent the penetration of water to some degree. A little bit of rainwater or a splash of water may not damage a canvas tarp, however if water is left on top of the tarp, it will eventually seep through and cause damage. Therefore, it is best to choose a vinyl tarp if it will be exposed to water.

Vinyl is also more resistant to mold and mildew growth than canvas. Mold and mildew grow in warm, damp environments. It can be very difficult to get rid of mold and mildew once it starts to grow, so it’s best to prevent the growth altogether. But, prevention is hard when you are working with a canvas tarp. This is true regardless of whether or not the canvas tarp is treated to slow down or prevent the growth of mold and mildew. For this reason, a vinyl tarp is the best choice for people who plan on working in environments where mold or mildew growth is a real possibility.

Canvas is a breathable fabric, whereas vinyl is not. As a result, a canvas tarp will not trap as much heat from the sun as a vinyl tarp will. However, vinyl tarps are typically treated with a solution that protects the material from damaging UV rays. Heat should not negatively affect either one of these tarps, but if you want extra protection from UV rays, vinyl is the best choice. Vinyl can also withstand extremely cold temperatures, making it ideal for all environments.

Vinyl tarps are often used as truck and trailer covers because of their high resistance to wind. This material is flame retardant as well, so it is highly resistant to fire. These are two more examples of the many environmental elements that will not severely damage vinyl tarps.

The Price

Price is another factor to take into consideration when choosing between a vinyl and canvas tarp. Prices can vary depending on the size and quality of the tarp, but in general, vinyl is more expensive per foot than canvas. Vinyl is actually one of the most expensive tarp materials. However, it’s important to think about the price in relation to the lifespan of the material. Many people are willing to pay extra for vinyl because of its durability and resistance to environmental elements.

The Impact on the Environment

Living a green lifestyle is important to a lot of people, so many customers are eager to find out which material has a lesser impact on the environment. Canvas is much more environmentally friendly than vinyl. A lot of pollution is released into the atmosphere during the creation of vinyl, but the same cannot be said for the production of canvas.

Vinyl is recyclable, but many recycling facilities will not accept this material because they do not have the equipment to process it. Finding a facility that processes vinyl is challenging, so this material often ends up in landfills. However, canvas is a cotton material that is easy to recycle and widely accepted at recycling centers across the country. Plus, cotton is a natural fiber that is completely biodegradable, so it will break down naturally even if it is accidentally sent to a landfill instead of a recycling center. If you’re concerned about choosing an eco-friendly tarp material, canvas is the clear winner in this category.

Are you ready to choose the perfect canvas or vinyl tarp? Chicago Canvas & Supply is your leading source for textiles, theatre fabrics, tarps, dropcloths, and more. Tell us what you’re looking for so we can help you choose the right products for your needs. For more information, or to request free material samples, contact us today by calling 1-866-389-2218 or emailing email@chicagocanvas.com.

4 Simple Patio Shade Ideas

Looking to beat the heat this summer? Now you can, without having to stay cooped up inside! We’ve put together 4 patio shade ideas that you can use to DIY your own summer shelter and make a backyard oasis.

Create a Patio Awning

What it is: An awning is essentially a roof cover which can be made of fabric, wood, aluminum, or vinyl. We recommend using tear-resistant, waterproof and flame-retardant vinyl for fabric awnings since it’s the most durable fabric up for the job. Vinyl laminated fabrics are recommended for awnings because they cover these properties. If you’re looking for all that, plus stain resistance, opt for vinyl coated fabrics instead.

Why use it: Creates full shade for your deck, patio furniture, etc., plus it’s easy to clean.

Ideal for: Complete shade, plus additional privacy.

Tutorial: DIY Awning Tutorial (Simple Details Blog)

4 Simple Patio Shade Ideas - Vinyl Awning
Customer Photo

Build a Garden Pergola

What it is: A pergola is an outdoor roof structure that’s supported by columns. They can be wooden, vinyl or even aluminum.

Why use it: Garden pergolas often feature vines and flowers growing on the top and sides, which not only makes them a beautiful addition to any patio but can also help provide more shade.

Ideal for: Some shade over small seating areas in the garden or yard.

Tutorial: How to Build a Wood Pergola (HGTV)

4 Simple Patio Shade Ideas - DIY Pergola

Get a Shade Sail

What it is: A shade sail is a piece of triangular or square mesh fabric that’s made to be hung, in order to block out the sun and protect against harmful rays.

Why use it: People like to use shade sails because you can get creative and make your own custom design. You can even dress up the actual fabric with fabric scraps, ribbons or other materials. They can be hung from any tall structure (building, tree, pole, etc.).

Ideal for: Protection against harmful rays plus partial shade with air circulation for patios, decks, children’s’ play areas, outdoor entertainment areas, etc.

Tutorial: How to Install Shade Sails (Bunnings Warehouse)

Patio Shade Ideas - Shade Sail

Use a Shade Cloth

What it is: A shade cloth is a mesh fabric that provides sun/wind protection, plus reduced temperature for your outdoor area, plants and more.

Why use it: Some prefer using shade cloths instead of shade sails due to the rectangular length. Shade cloths can be hung from the ceiling as a shade curtain, attached over a fence, draped over your pergola and more. You can set shade cloth up in strips for some cool (no pun intended) and innovative designs! They are also super easy to put up and take down.

Ideal for: Portable or temporary shade (plants/crops, animal shelter, parties, kid’s play areas).

Tutorial: How to Install a Shade Cloth (Bunnings Warehouse)

Do you have any creative DIY shade ideas? Leave them in the comments below!

Patio Shade Ideas - Shade Cloth Rolls

Save 50% on DIY Shade Fabrics

Select Shade Sails & Shade Rolls - Sale Ends 10/1/17!

GG Knows – A Dictionary of Textile Terms

Meet GG, one of the beloved founders of Chicago Canvas & Supply. Although she’s no longer with us, her vast knowledge of industry terminology lives on in this textile dictionary! Each month, we’ll pull from GG’s personal collection of terms—don’t miss out by subscribing to our blog over on the right-hand side of this webpage.

Ready to learn something new? Let’s get started!
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How to Select Your Room Divider Curtain

When it comes to deciding on a room divider curtain, it is important to consider where the curtain will be used, how it will be used, and what curtain fabric is best. Commando Cloth, Sound Absorber, Velour, or 13 oz Vinyl Laminate are often used as room dividers when areas need to be created or defined, but a permanent wall is not feasible due to cost, the flow of foot traffic, or the need to move large objects in and out of an area. Read more