Can Tarps Catch on Fire?

Can a tarp catch on fire? The answer depends on the type of tarp. Some tarps can catch fire. Being too close to lighting or heat source is a common way for a tarp to catch. A tent that’s too close to a campfire can catch on fire if you’re not using the right type of tarp. Bringing certain types of heaters into a tent is another way a tarp fire can occur.

Recently, an Illinois homeowner discovered a fire in his garage. It turned out a tarp was near an extension cord that was powering a fan. The extension cord became hot and ignited the tarp. Back in 2018, a tarp caught fire when welding sparks hit it. The section of the hospital that was under renovations had to be evacuated until the fire was put out. Those are two examples of recent tarp fires that could have been prevented with a few safety precautions and the use of fire retardant tarp.

How common is a tarp fire? It’s hard to tell exactly, but between 2010 and 2015, the Consumer Product Safety Commission reported eight tent fires. That’s just tents. Tarps used as wind blocks on patios, decks, construction sites, or protective covers are all at risk of catching fire. With the right choice of tarp material, you eliminate the risk.

Understanding the Difference Between Flame/Fire Retardant vs. Fire Resistant Tarps

Tarps sold at Chicago Canvas are flame retardant. Some tarps are only fire-resistant, however, and you need to understand the difference. Fire-resistant tarps are tarps that resist catching fire. They may not catch fire quickly or well, but there is the chance they will burn. Flame or fire retardant tarps are chemically treated to keep a fire from igniting or to extinguish flames. As the chemicals extinguish flames, the risk of a burn from hot material is lessened.

If you are going for the best protection, look for flame or fire retardant tarps. These are our best fire retardant tarps:

  • 13-Ounce Heavy-Duty Vinyl Laminated Polyester Tarps – Come in a variety of colors that are all flame retardant with sizes up to 20 by 30′.
  • 16-Ounce Fire Retardant Canvas Tarps – Comes in sizes as small as 5 by 7′ or as large as 30 by 30′.
  • 18-Ounce Treated Canvas – Comes in 4, 5, or 6′ widths and in two colors (gold or olive drab).

Make Sure You Follow Recommendations and General Safety Rules

Even with a fire retardant tarp, you must follow general safety rules. If you’re using your tarp for an outdoor patio cover, make sure space heaters are a safe distance from the tarp covering. If you have a patio heater that is six-feet high, the general rule is there needs to be at least three feet of clearance. You’d want to make sure your tarp roof is fire resistant and at least nine feet high.

If you’re using a tarp as a tent, never bring a heater inside unless you’ve specifically purchased a heater designed for use in a tent. These heaters will have safety shut-offs that cut the power if oxygen levels reduce too much, if the temperature becomes too high, or if the unit tips over. Go for the smallest heater you need.

Keep tents a safe distance from campfires. Sparks and hot ashes can travel if there’s a gust of wind. Keep the tent well away from the fire for safety’s sake. Don’t smoke in your tent. Even if the canvas tarp is flame retardant, your sleeping bag may catch fire and put you at risk.

Keep your unused tarp away from items that may heat up and cause a fire. You shouldn’t have a tarp laying on or near things that heat up. If you have frayed wiring anywhere, have it fixed or replace it. Don’t place extension cords on or under a tarp. Even if the tarp is fire retardant common sense keeps you safe.

If you’re using the tarp on a construction site, set it up so that there is a distance between heaters, welding equipment, and anything else that may cause a flame. Again, fire retardant tarps are a must. By taking extra precautions you reduce the risk of the tarp catching fire.

Talk to a specialist at Chicago Canvas and Supply to match a fire retardant tarp with your intended use. We can help you find the right material, size, and color to ensure you’re protected against an unexpected fire. It’s our goal to make sure you have the right tarp and reduce the risk of damaging fire. Give us a call today at 1-866-389-2218 to discuss your project with us.

Best Tarps For Fall Cleanup Projects

It’s time for fall cleanup. There’s a limited number of weekends before bitter cold temperatures hit and the snow starts to fall. By getting a head start on fall cleanup chores, you avoid a last-minute rush to get things done.

As you clean your yard and put away summer furniture and toys, why not use tarpaulins to your advantage? Tarps make fall cleanup much easier. Don’t overlook these important tasks and the ways to use tarps for fall cleanup as you get these tasks checked off.

Trimming or Pruning Trees and Bushes

As trees go dormant for the winter, it’s the best time to cut or trim branches. Remove lower branches that make it hard to mow under a tree. Remove branches that are against a house. If there are dead branches or limbs, you need to cut them off.

Insects and fungus can kill off healthy trees. If you have any dead trees or shrubs in the yard, you’ll need to remove them. Cut off limbs and branches first and then cut the main trunk as close to the ground as possible.

Each branch or limb that’s cut off, put it on a tarp. You’ll eliminate the need to rake up small twigs and leaves after. All of the mess is contained to the tarp. You want a heavy-duty tarp that won’t rip or tear. Brown/green reversible poly tarps are strong enough to take the weight of heavier branches or tree trunks.

Contain the mess to the tarp while you decide if you’re going to burn or compost the leaves and twigs. Rent a wood chipper and turn those branches into mulch you can compost or use to protect your perennials during the winter. Larger pieces of hardwood can be used in a fireplace or woodstove once they’ve dried out.

If you are going to save the larger pieces to heat your home, stack that wood on skids in an out-of-the-way location. Cover it with a blue poly tarp when you’re done. That will protect the firewood from snow, rain, and ice.

Cleaning Out Gutters

Falling leaves, dust, and pollen clog gutters. This can lead to ice build-up in the winter. You don’t want ice getting up into your roofing. Start the winter out with clean gutters. Rather than carry a bucket up and down the ladder and risk your safety in the process, place a blue poly tarp on the ground below and toss the decomposing leaves, twigs, dirt, and pollen onto the tarp.

When you’re done, you can move the tarp to your compost pile. Rinse off the tarp, allow it to fully dry in the sun, and the tarp is ready to be used elsewhere.

Covering Your Backyard Pool

A heavy-duty tarp provides an affordable option to an expensive pool cover. You want to protect the pool water from collecting leaves and branches in the fall. If you don’t keep them out, you’ll spend hours removing them before you can reopen the pool in the spring.

Silver UVR heavy-duty poly tarps or green/silver heavy-duty poly tarps are excellent pool covers. Lower the water level, balance your chemicals, place some empty chlorine jugs or an inflatable pillow in the center of the pool, and cover that with a tarp. Tie-down the tarp to ensure the wind doesn’t blow it away or that it falls into the pool with the weight of rain or snow.

In the spring, use a pump to drain the water from the top of the tarp. Untie the ropes used to secure it to the top of the pool. Pull the tarp off the pool without spilling any leaves or remaining water into the pool. Add water to the desired level, balance the chemicals, and you’re good to go. You don’t have to worry about sweeping dead leaves and twigs from the bottom of the pool.

Raking Leaves

Leaves and pine needles can smother your grass. Rake them into piles and transfer them to a heavy-duty tarp. If you have a leaf blower, you can blow them straight onto the tarp. When the job is complete, move them to the compost pile. Depending on your state, town/city, or community rules, you may prefer to burn the leaves and compost the ashes or save the ashes to spread on your icy driveway or sidewalks.

Storing Summer Furniture, Tools, and Toys

Storing patio furniture, power equipment, and toys is easy to manage when you have heavy-duty tarps available. If space in a garage or shed is limited, you can cover your furnishings, lawnmowers, or toys with 18-ounce vinyl-coated polyester tarpaulins. They resist mildew, water, and damaging sun rays.

Get the right tarp for your needs with the help of Chicago Canvas & Supply. We can create custom tarp sizes with most of our tarp choices. We can also help you find the perfect tarp for your fall cleanup project. Contact us for a free quote.

Buying Tarps Online vs. At Big Box Stores

Why by a tarp online when you can drive to a big box store and purchase a discount tarp locally? Most will tell you it’s convenient to go to a local store and bring it home. Are you getting the best deal, however? There are several reasons you should save yourself the trip and shop online for a tarp.

Selections in a Store Are Limited

If you look at a box store for tarps, you’ll find the selection is limited. Most stores sell the blue tarps that are designed for light-duty use. In a camping section, you may find heavy-duty tarps, but they’re going to be smaller and not always ideal for your needs. You’d have to buy multiples to get the size you need. Then, you’d have to find a way to secure them together that ensured a watertight seam. It’s not ideal.

Chicago Canvas has tarps in so many colors, weights, and styles. There are waterproof tarps and breathable ones. There is a huge range of sizes. If you don’t find the right size, specialists are happy to create a customized tarp for you. You’re also welcome to call and request a free fabric sample if you want to feel the thickness and quality before you order.

Tarps Are Not a Box Store’s Specialty

A box store doesn’t specialize in any particular thing. They’re around for convenience. If you need help deciding what tarp is best to cover a cord of wood vs. the tarp that’s best for covering a tractor for the winter, the employee at the box store won’t know. It’s up to you to decide. That store also may not have the right tarp for the intended use. You’ll have to settle for second best.

Chicago Canvas & Supply is a division of a company that’s been around for more than seven decades. The canvas and tarp division came about in 1986. We have experts working for us who really understand the importance of listening to the customer and helping them find the right tarps in the right sizes. From tents and outdoor canopies to photography backgrounds, we ensure you get exactly what you need in a fabric that’s designed to last years.

Box Stores Cut Prices By Getting Tarps Made in Other Countries

One way box stores cut prices is by purchasing goods from countries that pay a low wage and may even use child labor. Chicago Canvas makes every effort to offer tarps and specialty products that are made in the U.S.A. We also hire our own on-site specialists to create custom tarps for our customers. When the custom tarps are ready, we take care of the shipping, too.

Tarps made in other countries may be coated in plastics that are dangerous. Lead and cadmium have been found in some plastics that are imported. When you buy a tarp made in the U.S., you know you’re getting products that meet U.S. regulations.

If you’re looking to avoid chemical odors with your tarp, Chicago Canvas has Iron Horse polyester tarps. Iron Horse tarps are extremely durable, waterproof tarps that are perfect for covering boats, outdoor furniture, and truck beds. They’re also free of any chemical odors and come in a rainbow of colors.

The Focus Isn’t on Quality

A box store is after the lowest price. They’re not as concerned over quality. While the low price is appealing, how often will you bet replacing the tarp? If you purchase a blue tarp to cover your firewood for the winter and it rips within two months, you’ll need to go buy a new tarp. Is that really a better deal than if you’d spent a little more money and gotten a durable tarp that will last for years?

At Chicago Canvas, there are dozens of different fabrics and weights to ensure the tarp you choose is right for the application. Big box stores don’t give you that variety. You may think you’re saving money by shopping locally, but you’ll be replacing your tarp more often. You end up spending more.

We price match. If you find a tarp for a better price from one of their competitors, Chicago Canvas will match the price. Call 1-773-478-5700 to learn more.

Order $99 or more in tarps and shipping is free. Free shipping, price matching, and a high-quality tarp that’s made in the U.S.A. are three good reasons to choose Chicago Canvas. Chat with one of our specialists and let us help you find the right tarp for your needs.

Best Tarps For Fall Cleanup Projects

It’s time for fall cleanup. There’s a limited number of weekends before bitter cold temperatures hit and the snow starts to fall. By getting a head start on fall cleanup chores, you avoid a last-minute rush to get things done.

As you clean your yard and put away summer furniture and toys, why not use tarpaulins to your advantage? Tarps make fall cleanup much easier. Don’t overlook these important tasks and the ways to use tarps for fall cleanup as you get these tasks checked off.

Trimming or Pruning Trees and Bushes

As trees go dormant for the winter, it’s the best time to cut or trim branches. Remove lower branches that make it hard to mow under a tree. Remove branches that are against a house. If there are dead branches or limbs, you need to cut them off.

Insects and fungus can kill off healthy trees. If you have any dead trees or shrubs in the yard, you’ll need to remove them. Cut off limbs and branches first and then cut the main trunk as close to the ground as possible.

Each branch or limb that’s cut off, put it on a tarp. You’ll eliminate the need to rake up small twigs and leaves after. All of the mess is contained to the tarp. You want a heavy-duty tarp that won’t rip or tear. Brown/green reversible poly tarps are strong enough to take the weight of heavier branches or tree trunks.

Contain the mess to the tarp while you decide if you’re going to burn or compost the leaves and twigs. Rent a wood chipper and turn those branches into mulch you can compost or use to protect your perennials during the winter. Larger pieces of hardwood can be used in a fireplace or woodstove once they’ve dried out.

If you are going to save the larger pieces to heat your home, stack that wood on skids in an out-of-the-way location. Cover it with a blue poly tarp when you’re done. That will protect the firewood from snow, rain, and ice.

Cleaning Out Gutters

Falling leaves, dust, and pollen clog gutters. This can lead to ice build-up in the winter. You don’t want ice getting up into your roofing. Start the winter out with clean gutters. Rather than carry a bucket up and down the ladder and risk your safety in the process, place a blue poly tarp on the ground below and toss the decomposing leaves, twigs, dirt, and pollen onto the tarp.

When you’re done, you can move the tarp to your compost pile. Rinse off the tarp, allow it to fully dry in the sun, and the tarp is ready to be used elsewhere.

Covering Your Backyard Pool

A heavy-duty tarp provides an affordable option to an expensive pool cover. You want to protect the pool water from collecting leaves and branches in the fall. If you don’t keep them out, you’ll spend hours removing them before you can reopen the pool in the spring.

Silver UVR heavy-duty poly tarps or green/silver heavy-duty poly tarps are excellent pool covers. Lower the water level, balance your chemicals, place some empty chlorine jugs or an inflatable pillow in the center of the pool, and cover that with a tarp. Tie-down the tarp to ensure the wind doesn’t blow it away or that it falls into the pool with the weight of rain or snow.

In the spring, use a pump to drain the water from the top of the tarp. Untie the ropes used to secure it to the top of the pool. Pull the tarp off the pool without spilling any leaves or remaining water into the pool. Add water to the desired level, balance the chemicals, and you’re good to go. You don’t have to worry about sweeping dead leaves and twigs from the bottom of the pool.

Raking Leaves

Leaves and pine needles can smother your grass. Rake them into piles and transfer them to a heavy-duty tarp. If you have a leaf blower, you can blow them straight onto the tarp. When the job is complete, move them to the compost pile. Depending on your state, town/city, or community rules, you may prefer to burn the leaves and compost the ashes or save the ashes to spread on your icy driveway or sidewalks.

Storing Summer Furniture, Tools, and Toys

Storing patio furniture, power equipment, and toys is easy to manage when you have heavy-duty tarps available. If space in a garage or shed is limited, you can cover your furnishings, lawnmowers, or toys with 18-ounce vinyl-coated polyester tarpaulins. They resist mildew, water, and damaging sun rays.

Get the right tarp for your needs with the help of Chicago Canvas & Supply. We can create custom tarp sizes with most of our tarp choices. We can also help you find the perfect tarp for your fall cleanup project. Shop online now or contact us for a free quote or learn more.

Best Tarps For Covering Outdoor Items For The Winter

It may still seem like summer with heat and humidity impacting many areas, but winter is coming. It’s time to think about how you’ll be storing your patio furniture, outdoor pool, shrubs, and other summer items. It’s also time to think about creating walls on a covered deck or porch to extend the use and keeping winter fuel like firewood or wood pellets protected from rain, snow, and ice.

What Are You Covering?

The type of tarp you need depends on your project. You wouldn’t use a fire-retardant canvas tarp that’s been treated with an oil and wax coating to cover your pool or motorcycle as it would leach the oil and wax into the pool water or stain your motorcycle. You wouldn’t want a light-duty tarp to add walls to a deck or porch where wind gusts are common as the tarp would tear quickly.

What are the best tarps for covering your outdoor items or enclosing outdoor space during the winter? Chicago Canvas has some suggestions to help you out.

Shop all our tarps by clicking here.

Tarps That Extend Usage of a Covered Deck or Porch

On those chilly, clear fall nights when mosquito season has ended, enjoy your covered outdoor porch or deck by adding tarps to form walls that block wind and rain. You need a tarp that withstands blustery winds, and iron horse polyester tarps are perfect for that reason. They’re designed to stand up to heavy use and strong winds.

Tarps That Cover Pools for the Winter

Outdoor pools don’t have to be covered, but you’ll find it’s easier to open your pool back up if you do take this step when the swimming season ends. By covering the pool, you’re keeping leaves, sticks, and other types of debris from getting into the pool. It also blocks out sunlight, which encourages algae growth. Try heavy-duty poly or silver UVR heavy-duty poly tarps for an affordable pool cover.

Tarps That Protect Firewood and Wood Pellets From Snow, Ice, and Rain

Firewood and wood pellets are often stored outside, but it poses problems. If firewood gets wet or icy, it will burn damp which increases smoke, takes longer to catch, and can increase build-up in a chimney. Wood pellets come in plastic bags, but those bags can get small tears that allow moisture in. Moisture will quickly ruin wood pellets.

Covering your wood or wood pellets is the best way to keep it dry while also allowing air to flow. Light-duty tarps may work in areas where the wind isn’t a factor. If it gets windy in your neighborhood, look for heavy-duty poly tarps or 16 or 18-ounce canvas tarps that are water and mildew-resistant.

Tarps That Cover Patio Furniture

Cover your patio chairs and tables, lawn chairs, and zero-gravity recliners with tarps that resist mildew and are also waterproof. UV-treated 18-ounce vinyl coated polyester tarps are ideal furniture covers. They’re tough and help prevent mildew stains and damage from ice and snow all winter long.

Tarps That Protect Hay and Straw

Hay bales and rolls need to stay dry. If you have leaks in a barn roof or lack the room to store your hay bales and rolls inside, you must keep them dry. It’s estimated that farmers and ranchers lose about one-quarter of their hay to moisture. That’s a lot of wasted money and labor. Heavy-duty UV-resistant hay tarps come in a variety of sizes and keep hay dry in rainy and snowy winter weather.

Tarps That Prevent Damage to Shrubs That Are Near the Road

Shrubs that are close to a road are susceptible to damage from road salt. As plow trucks pass your home, the slushy snow and road salt get sprayed onto your shrubs, which can kill them. Protect your landscaping investment by wrapping the shrubs. The material you use needs to breathe and keep excess moisture from building up and damaging the needles.

Some people use burlap, but road salt can get through that material. A lightweight tarp is a better option if salt is your main concern. Aim for a lighter color. If you choose a dark color, such as black, it may warm up in the sun and cause rapid temperature changes between day and night, which is also harmful to shrubs.

Chicago Canvas is your trusted source for tarps of all sizes. We have a wide range of tarp fabrics, weights, and colors to make it easy for you to find exactly what you need for the upcoming winter. We’re also happy to help you find the right tarp for your needs. If you have questions or need help, reach us via live chat or by calling 1-866-389-2218.

Tips for Selecting a School Theater Backdrop

Backdrops are designed to catch the eye or mask things you don’t want the audience to see. Students may be painting the backdrops to create scenery and add to the story. Other backdrops block out the people and equipment that are waiting backstage. With hot theater lighting, safety measures should have you thinking about backdrops that are flame retardant. The materials you chose is just as important as the color, size, and weight. When choosing a school theater backdrop, follow these tips.

Keep it Simple

As tempted as you may be to create grand backdrops, avoid the temptation. Elaborate school theater backdrop plans often take longer than students, teachers, and advisors imagined. Paint doesn’t have time to properly dry. Rushed construction projects fall apart. It’s always best to keep your set design as simple as possible. Fabric backdrops eliminate the need to construct backdrops using wood, cardboard, and other construction materials.

Understand What the Different Fabrics Are and How They’re Best Used

Many fabrics are useful in a theater setting, but they all have their strong points. For budget set designs, burlap, duvetyne, and muslin are three of your best theater fabrics. Here are the fabrics that are available along with a tip at what they’re best for.

Burlap – The natural look of burlap helps it add texture to backgrounds plus it absorbs sounds. It’s also one of the more economical fabrics, so it’s great for a school theater group that needs to stay on budget.

Canvas – Canvas comes in a variety of options at Chicago Canvas. For a theater backdrop, look at primed canvas. It’s already primed and ready for you to hand paint backgrounds for your theater production.

Chroma-Key – Chroma-Key is used to create green screens. If your theater production will use special effects, chroma-key is a flame retardant material that helps with visual effects.

Commando Cloth – Commando cloth is a machine washable cotton material that absorbs lighting. It can blackout the lights from backstage as your stage crew prepares for the next scene.

Duvetyne – Duvetyne is commonly used to skirt the stage. It’s a popular choice because it’s budget-friendly. It’s also a perfect solid black background that absorbs light and is fire-retardant.

Muslin – Muslin is an affordable plain cloth that can be painted. It’s perfect for inexpensive backdrops you plan to paint by hand.

Poly Silk – This lightweight, luminescent fabric allows colors to come through thanks to its translucent nature.

Rip-Stop Nylon – If a tear starts, it won’t go any farther. Rip-stop nylon is perfect for heavy use because it won’t tear easily or continue tearing if something snags it.

Scrim – Scrim is see-through when it’s lit from an angle, but when the theater lights point straight at it, it hides actors who are waiting in the wings. We offer Leno-filled, Sharkstooth, and Theatrical Gauze.

Sound Absorbing Fabric – While Commando Cloth and Duvetyne can block light, they’re not good at blocking extraneous sounds. The sound-absorbing cloth is thicker, fire retardant, and helps block sounds from the backstage action.

Velour – Velour is another choice if you want to absorb extraneous sounds from backstage. It’s flame retardant, so the heat from bright theater lighting won’t be an issue. It’s commonly used for theater/stage drapes.

Measure Multiple Times

Make sure you have the right measurements. Take the measurements for the opening you’re filling with the backdrop. Take them two more times and make sure they always match. Once you have this measurement, pay attention to the ordering guide. When you’re ordering a customized canvas backdrop or curtain, the hem will shorten each side of your curtain. As long as the measurements you give Chicago Canvas & Supply are correct, the extra fabric needed to hem the backdrop can be factored in.

Utility Rope and Backdrops Make It Easy to Change Scenes

Make sure you consider the features that will help your backstage crew. You can pick fabrics that can be primed and painted with the scenery you need. With some grommets and rope hung from a higher point, the school theater backdrop can be drawn across the stage in seconds, which makes for very quick set changes in between acts.

Chicago Canvas & Supply has 70 years of expertise in fabrics and textiles. We’ve helped many theater groups find the right materials for theater backdrops, scrims, and stage curtains. Don’t hesitate to send us an online message or call 1-866-389-2218. We’re happy to help you find the right backdrop for your theater production.

What Does “Tarps” Stand For? How Were They Named?

Tarps. You probably know what they are, but how did they get their name? “Tarps” is short for tarpaulins. The name dates back centuries and has strong ties in the merchant marines and sailors of Britain. The sea can be a brutal place. Gales, crashing waves, and the work on ships/boats get the deck soaking wet. To stay dry, sailors and seafarers used sheets of canvas that they’d coat in tar to repel water.

These canvas sheets were used to protect supplies and equipment that needed to stay dry. They were also turned into hats and pants that sailors could wear to stay dry. While there is some debate, some believe that “tarpaulin” is a combination of “tar” (the sticky black coating) and “paulin” (a waterproof material used to make ponchos).

While tarps still help sailors, marines, and others keep their items at sea dry, they’re just as useful on land. People use them regularly to form protective awnings and tents at home, public events, and picnic/camping areas. Tarps are used to keep furnishings dry while being transported in a truck bed. They’re used to protect firewood from rain, snow, and ice. They are used at construction sites, archaeological sites, and so many other places. Tarps can cover a pool, protect a roof leak, or block wind on a deck or patio. You’ll also see tarps rolled out on ball fields during sudden showers or storms.

The Different Thicknesses of Tarps

Tarps come in a variety of thicknesses. The thicker the tarp, the more durable and heavy it is. If you have a tarp under 0.15 mm, it’s going to be a tarp designed for light-duty. It won’t last long in strong winds or heavy snow/ice. These are typically the blue budget tarps you find in discount stores.

Medium-duty tarps tend to be in the 0.16 to 0.25 mm range. These tarps withstand a little more than the light-duty tarps do, but they’re still not designed to take a beating. Stronger tarps are those in the 0.26 to 0.30 mm range (heavy-duty) or over 0.31 mm (super heavy-duty). Many retailers sell tarps by weights with 10 ounce being the lightest and 18+ ounce being heavy-duty tarps.

Material Is Another Important Factor

When you’re looking at a tarpaulin’s strength and durability, the material also impacts potential uses. Chicago Canvas & Supply sells a large variety of tarps in a variety of weights, fabrics, and colors. These are your options and how we recommend you use them.

Canvas Tarpaulin – Canvas tarps come in 10 oz, 16 oz, and 18 oz weights. Canvas tarps may be treated or untreated. Untreated tarps are not waterproof and are best used as curtains, dust covers, or floor/furniture protection when painting. Treated canvas tarps are not great for protecting things you do not want to be stained by the oils used to make the canvas water repellent, but they are good for protecting cargo, power tools and machinery, and farm equipment.

Clear PVC Tarps – Clear PVC tarps are 20 mm thick (18 ounce). You can see through them, which makes them handy for creating a curtain that doesn’t block light. We recommend them for wind protection on construction sites, to enclose a patio or deck, or to add a clear doorway or side wall on a large tent for parties or gatherings.

Drain Tarps – A drain tarp is a tarp that has a drain spout where you can drain away the rain. They come in a variety of materials depending on your needs. Reinforced polyethylene is not flame retardant, but vinyl laminated nylon is. The drains spout hooks up to a standard garden hose to direct rain away from the tarp roof that’s protecting your picnic area or worksite.

Iron Horse Polyester Tarps – These waterproof tarps are 15 ounce and are twice as strong as a canvas tarp. Plus, canvas tarps are water repellent, but Iron Horse tarps are waterproof. They’re a great choice for covering boats and outdoor furniture. They’re also the best choice for an outdoor canopy for a deck, porch, or patio.

Mesh Tarps – You’d use a mesh tarp for protection from the sun. The mesh does block some UV rays, but it doesn’t stop water or air from passing through. They’re a good choice for an outdoor shade tent. Plus, the mesh will keep away many biting insects. Vinyl-coated mesh tarps are good for privacy screens. Polyethylene mesh is great for screening off a deck or patio. Polypropylene offers the best protection from UV rays, which makes it a good choice for screening off a small pool or sandbox.

Polyethylene Tarps – Polyethylene tarps resist UV rays and water. Blue poly tarps are light-duty tarps. They’re often used to protect firewood from water, snow, and ice. You can also get brown, silver, and white heavy-duty poly tarps. They can protect the ground during landscaping projects, cover a roof that’s leaking, and protect equipment that’s being used outside.

Vinyl Tarps – Our vinyl tarps come in 13-ounce and 18-ounce options. The 13-ounce vinyl-laminated tarps are useful for welding curtains and room dividers. The 18-ounce vinyl-coated tarps resist tearing and repel rot. Use them to cover furniture and equipment on farms, industrial settings, and construction sites.

What do you need a tarp for? If you have an outdoor or indoor project that requires a tarp, let our experts know. We can help you find the right fabric, weight, and coating to ensure you have a tarp that meets your needs and is crafted to last. Reach Chicago Canvas & Supply online through live chat or by calling 1-866-389-2218.

Do Tarps Leach Toxins?

Increasing attention to the dangers of toxins in plastics has people worried. You’ve probably heard a lot about toxins that leached into foods from plastic containers that are made with PET, polyethylene, PVC, or styrene. Some like DEHP are carcinogens and increase the cancer risk. Some can impede how well the immune system works and affect child development.

What about tarps? Tarps are often made from plastic so aren’t they risky? If you’re using tarps in a garden setting or exposing your children to it in playgrounds, pools, or outdoor areas, are you putting them at risk? Do tarps leach toxins? It’s very unlikely. We’ll break down why.

It’s Important to Understand How Leaching Happens

Leaching is a process where water or moisture travels through or over a substance and carries small particles of that substance as it flows back out. In the case of plastics, water ends up transporting the chemicals that are used to make plastics. It’s not a fast process. It takes time.

You may have heard of plastic food containers leaching chemicals into the food or beverage. It’s the cold or hot temperatures the containers are exposed to by boiling, microwaving, washing, or freezing that container that causes the breakdown that leads to leaching. It takes some kind of stress to get the chemicals to release.

Take a Look at the Different Types of Plastics

When you’re recycling, you’ve probably noticed the little recycling arrows on plastic items. They range from #1 to #7. The breakdown is:

1 – PET or PETE: Polyethylene terephthalate is used to make rope, clothing fibers, drink bottles, medicine bottles, and some food containers. It can absorb odors and flavors from the things it’s exposed to. It also breaks down over time when exposed to sunlight, cold temperatures, and other factors. This may lead to some leaching.

2 – HDPE: High-density polyethylene is one of the safer forms of plastic as studies find it doesn’t leach chemicals into foods or liquids. You’ll find this type of plastic is often turned into milk jugs, packaging for soaps and other beauty products, and cleaners.

3 – V: Polyvinyl chloride is best known in PVC pipes used for your household plumbing. It’s not a good plastic to have in gardens as it can leach chemicals. Phthalates are the danger with PVC because studies find phthalates damage the kidneys, liver, and lungs in animals.

4 – LDPE: Low-density polyethylene is the plastic you’ll find is used to make sandwich bags, bubble wrap, plastic grocery bags, squeeze bottles, and cling wrap. It’s one of the safer forms of plastic.

5 – PP: Polypropylene is a plastic designed to withstand heat and cold. It’s harder to recycle. It’s what bottle caps, plastic lunch boxes, and syrup bottles are often made from. Some tarps are also made from number 5 plastic. It’s one of the safer plastics to have around gardens and frequently used outdoor spaces.

6 – PS: Polystyrene is the plastic used to make plastic takeout containers, plastic drink cups, packing peanuts or foam, coat hangers, and plastic knives, spoons, and forks.

7 – Other Types: Polycarbonate and polylactide are two of the other plastics that are categorized as number 7. They’re hard to recycle and tend to include discs, reusable bottles, and storage containers. Some of these plastics leach bisphenol A (BPA). BPA is a chemical used in plastics that has been found to impact children’s brains and prostate glands. Mayo Clinic also reports there could be a link between high blood pressure and BPA.

What Are the Safer Tarps to Consider?

Many tarps used in and around the home do not leach anything harmful into water or soil. While leaching from plastics has been studied, there haven’t been studies that find significant leaching from tarps. Those that do have more concerning plastics are still going to be a minimal risk.

These studies that find dangers with food containers and bottles are looking at long-term effects with hours of exposure every day for months and years. Many tarps you use around a home are for short-term projects like painting or shelters from the sun.

Polyethylene tarps are one of the safer options if you’re still worried about leaching. If you choose a tarp that resists water, mold/mildew, and UV rays, it’s best. They’re not going to degrade and leach any chemicals into a garden or backyard space. Heavy-duty tarps are designed to stand up to water, sun, and other weather situations and last years.

If you’re looking for a tarp for a child’s play structure, consider 100% cotton duck canvas. Number 4 cotton duck canvas is an excellent choice for hammocks and chairs. It comes in over a dozen colors too, so you can really make it dress up your backyard space.

Chicago Canvas can help you find the right tarp for your outdoor or indoor use. Give our experts at a call today and let us know how we can help. Reach us online by clicking the live chat button or by calling 1-866-389-2218.

Duvetyne for Photography

Whether you’re setting up a new studio or need to replace your backdrops, duvetyne is a fabric that’s been used in theaters for decades. It’s just as helpful in photography work. Have you discovered the reasons many photographers are turning to duvetyne for photography jobs?

So much goes into the right photography backdrop. Of course, size is important, but it’s not the only factor to consider. The color, the mounting system, and the type of fabric share equal billing to size. We have some tips to help you find the right backdrop for your photography needs.

Backdrop Size Impacts Photograph Quality

The rule of thumb is to have the subject of your photograph placed or sitting 3 feet from your backdrop. If you ignore this rule, shadows can appear in your images. You also want to keep items at least 3 feet from the backdrop to ensure your lighting is perfect. You also want a backdrop that doesn’t distract from your subject. Patterned prints can be hit or miss. Many professional photographers find that solid fabrics are superior.

To make sure your subjects are the right distance from the backdrop, you really need a backdrop that’s a minimum of 3.5 feet square. When you’re doing headshots with part of the torso showing, pick a photography backdrop that’s at least 5 feet wide and 7 feet long. For full body portraits, aim for a backdrop that’s 9 feet wide and 12 feet wide.

What if you work with a variety of portraiture? Sometimes your subjects are sitting, but sometimes they are standing. Consider purchasing different sizes of backdrops to meet your needs. If that isn’t ideal, choose a piece of fabric that’s 20 to 24 feet long and at least 10 feet wide.

The Fabric Must Be Durable and Absorb Rather Than Reflect Lighting

Fabrics used in photography need to have a few qualities. First, you want a fabric that’s durable. If it is going to rip easily, you’ll be wasting money replacing it. Second, it needs to withstand the lighting you’re using. If you work with a lot of lights, you don’t want the heat they give off to pose a fire risk to the fabric you select.

Another quality you need to consider is how easy the fabric wrinkles. If you need a smooth backdrop, fabrics that wrinkle easily during transportation won’t be appealing. You’ll spend time steaming out wrinkles before your shoot. It’s time-consuming and frustrating.

Duvetyne creates great photography backdrops. It’s fire retardant, thick, and absorbs rather than reflects light. It’s a durable twill material, but it has a velvet-like nap on one side. It’s also matte, so there’s no shine to the material to detract from your subject. Many filmmakers rely on duvetyne for backdrops and scenery.

The Benefits of Duvetyne in Photography

Depending on your project, duvetyne can do more than provide a backdrop. It’s a versatile fabric.

Use it to cover a person’s hand for close-up shots of items. If you want to display a product but not the model’s hand, duvetyne can block the hand from showing. Put the duvetyne over the hands and arms and have the person support the item from below the material. Those hands and arms will not appear in your shot. This is handy if you’re taking photos of an infant who cannot sit up alone.

You need to block out all of the sunlight coming in your window. Duvetyne can do that for you. Place a panel over the window and there’s no way the sun is getting through. At the same time, duvetyne absorbs lights from your photography equipment, so you won’t find shine on a subject’s face that’s being reflected off the backdrop.

If you photograph dioramas, duvetyne disappears into the background and allows your figures or other objects to stand out. It won’t draw the eye and get in the way of the scene you’re trying to capture.

We Sell Duvetyne in Six Colors

Chicago Canvas & Supply has duvetyne in 4.5-foot widths. A full roll is approximately 100 yards of duvetyne. Choose from six colors that include black, gray, royal blue, silver, white, and wine. We match competitor prices. If you find an identical material for a lower price, let us know and we’ll match it.

It’s our goal to make sure you have the right material for your needs. If 54 inches isn’t wide enough, we also have commando cloth in sizes as long as 24 feet. Request a free sample or call 866-389-2218 to talk about the backdrop you need. You can also reach us by email or live chat. We’re happy to help you find the right material for your photography needs.

Do Tarps Block UV Light & Sunlight?

In the spring and summer months, the only way to lower your risk of sun cancer and sunburn is by limiting your time in the sun. Sunscreen, when used correctly, reduces the damage that UVA and UVB rays cause. Even with sunscreen, you have to limit the amount of time you’re in direct sunlight.

Did you know that tarps block UV light? Many types of tarps are treated to block UVA and UVB rays. If you’re going to be outside, tarps that block UV light will protect you from the damaging effects.

Is UV Light Really That Dangerous?

Stop for a minute and consider the realities of ultraviolet radiation. UV rays occur naturally in sunlight. While it may feel great to have the sun beating down, UVA and UVB rays damage your skin cells. Premature aging is just one of the dangers of exposure to the sun. Skin cancer is the bigger risk. While UVA rays increase your skin cancer risk, UVB rays are more directly tied to skin cancer and sunburn.

Why is this important? In 2012, more than 5.4 million people were found to have non-melanoma skin cancer. Another 58 million are believed to have skin cell damage that is precancerous. Staying out of the sun isn’t always possible, but you can take precautions that keep the UV rays from damaging your skin cells.

Liberal amounts of sunscreen are essential when you’re outside. People often use too little sunscreen and don’t apply it to places like the ears, eyelids, and lips. Sunscreen must protect you from both UVA and UVB rays (broad-spectrum) and have an SPF of at least 15. Reapply it every couple of hours or after being in water or sweating excessively.

If you have to be outside when the sun is brightest (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.), stay in a shaded area as much as possible. A shelter or sunshade made from a UV-blocking material is best.

What Materials Block UV Rays?

Before you build a sunshade, patio cover, or some other type of shelter, make sure you’ve chosen a tarp that blocks UV rays. These tarps protect against the damaging sun rays.

#1 – Polyethylene Tarps: Poly tarps resist water and are UV treated. If you are looking to create an awning or another form of shelter, look into silver UVR heavy-duty tarps. If you don’t want silver, there are heavy-duty poly tarps in green, black, brown, and white. All of these tarps resist mildew, which makes them ideal for outdoor use over a deck, patio, pool, or sandbox.

#2 – Vinyl Coated Polyester Tarps: Vinyl-coated tarps are also mildew resistant. They’re also waterproof and designed to stand up to heavy-duty use. If you live in a windy area, the tear-resistant quality of these tarps is ideal. They’re also UV-treated to block UVA and UVB rays. The wide range of colors adds a touch of whimsy to your backyard, daycare, or school. They come in standard colors like black, white, and gray, but there are also bold colors like pink, purple, red, burgundy, and more.

#3 – Vinyl Laminated Polyester Tarps: For an outdoor workspace, the vinyl laminated poly tarps are great choices. The difference with these tarps is that they’re also flame retardant. This makes them an excellent choice if you’ll be working on a construction site where welding equipment is in use. The tarps are waterproof, mildew resistant, and come in nine colors.

#4 – Polypropylene Mesh Tarps: If you need a tarp that allows air to flow, a polypropylene mesh tarp offers UV protection and breathability from the durable mesh design. This is a great tarp if you want to add extra sun protection by creating walls around a deck or patio. Use the mesh tarp around the outdoor space to keep out insects and UV rays and put a solid tarp over the top for roofing.

Outdoor Sun Shelters Provide Safe Respite From UV Light

Skin cancer is the most common of cancer and it’s preventable. With a broad-spectrum sunscreen and outdoor spaces that block out UV light, you’ll keep your family safe. Use tarps that block out UV light and turn your deck or patio into a screened outdoor area. Build a tent over your children’s pool, sandbox, or swing set. Use the tarp to build an affordable awning over your favorite outdoor area.

Once you have a design in mind, we have a full range of tarps that protect against UVA and UVB rays. If you need a custom size, that’s not a problem. Call Chicago Canvas & Supply to discuss the best UV-blocking tarp for your project.