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.

Do Tarps Work for Slip and Slides?

Summer is here. To stay cool on hot days, many kids head for the nearest pool, lake, river, or pond. There’s an easier way to stay cool. A backyard slip and slide pairs a waterproof vinyl tarp with flowing water to create a water slide you can set up anywhere.

You could head to the store and buy an official Slip ‘N Slide. If you do, there are usually size limits. Most official backyard water slides are in the 15 to 20 foot range. If you plan to join your children playing outside, a longer water slide is going to be ideal. With a little creativity and the right materials, you can build your own backyard water slide.

The History of the Slip ‘N Slide

WHAM-O is likely a name you’ve heard a lot in your childhood. The company was founded out of a family garage and started with something as simple as a hula hoop and a Frisbee. In 1961, one of WHAM-O’s most loved summer toys came out – a backyard water slide for children.

The Slip ‘N Slide was a 25-foot long by a 3.33-foot wide sheet of treated plastic with small holes along the edges and an end that attached to a garden hose. The small holes allowed the water to spray out creating a very slippery surface for anyone who dove onto it. The Slip ‘N Slide could be set up on even or sloped ground for backyard fun in the summer heat.

Why Not Build Your Own Backyard Water Slide?

Slip ‘N Slide toys are still available today in toy stores across the country. They’ve advanced to having slides that come to an end with a pool, wider slides that fit multiple people at once, and slides with archways you pass under.

If you need a longer slide than Wham-O makes, you have to buy more than one slide and put them together. With a piece of durable tarp, you can design your own backyard water slide to fit your yard’s specific dimensions. You can make it wide enough that children aren’t sliding off the edge and onto grass and dirt. Make it long enough to go all the way down a backyard slope that extends 100 feet or more.

Which Tarps Make the Best Backyard Slip and Slides?

You’ve decided to make your own slip and slide for the backyard. Start by choosing the right material. It has to be waterproof, durable, and resist damage from the sun’s rays.

Vinyl polyester tarps are great for this purpose. You could use clear plastic, but it’s less durable and will probably only last one season. Spend a bit more money and you have a slip and slide for the backyard that will last for years if not decades.

The heavy weight of an 18-ounce vinyl-coated polyester tarp is designed to resist abrasion and tears with excellent durability. It’s thick, waterproof, and resists mildew, too. Finally, the UV treatment protects the tarp from sun damage.

Using Your New Slip and Slide

Before you spread out your tarp, check the area of the lawn for rocks, sticks, and other items that may cause harm if you land on them. When you’ve removed all foreign objects, lay the tarp out in the desired area.

Wet the vinyl tarp down with a hose. Add a cup or two of an environmentally-friendly dish soap to help maintain a very slippery surface without harming the grass and gardens in your yard. Lay a soaker hose along the top edge and secure it to the grommets using zip ties. Just remind the kids to avoid diving on the hose or they might get scratched by the zip ties.

Leave the water running at a slow trickle when the kids are playing. Over time, the surface may not be as slick. Add a bit more dish soap to restore the slickness.

If you don’t like the soaker hose idea, pool noodles are a good alternative. Find pool noodles at your nearby dollar store. Use velcro strips along the top of the tarp or down one side of the tarp. Place another section of velcro strips on the pool noodles. Use the velcro to secure the pool noodles to the tarp.

Drill ¼ inch holes equally spaced along the edge of the pool noodles. Attach a nozzle sprayer to your hose and push the nozzle into the hole on the pool noodle. Turn on the water and it will spray through the holes you’ve drilled as the kids play.

End of the Summer Storage Tips

At the end of the summer, thoroughly rinse off both sides of the slip and slide tarp. Hang it on a laundry line to thoroughly dry out. Fold it up and put it in a mice-proof container until it’s warm enough to use it again.

Chicago Canvas & Supply sells vinyl tarp in custom sizes. Let us know what size tarp you’re looking for for your backyard slide, and we’ll make it happen. You can call us with those dimensions or fill out the Get a Quote form for a free quote.

Maximize Your Tarp’s Life – Tips To Get The Most Longevity Out Of Your Tarps

There are two good reasons for making your tarp last. First, it helps you save money. If you’re not buying new tarps multiple times per year, you save money. Second, tarps are not recyclable. When your tarp’s lifespan is used up, you have to toss the tarp in the trash. Very few areas have programs that give life to an old tarp.

Tarps are only recyclable if they’re made from a plastic material that is recyclable and are stamped with that plastic’s number. As a result, tarps head to the trash when they reach the end of their lifespan. Long-lasting tarps keep material out of the landfill. The more life you get out of your tarp, the better it is for your wallet and the planet. To maximize your tarp’s life, use these tips.

Pick the Best Material

Tarps you see at discount stores are often crafted from lightweight polyester. They’re inexpensive because they’re not designed to last long. Spending more money on an industrial tarp made of heavy-duty materials leads to a longer life. It may be more expensive to start, but you’ll be purchasing one tarp to last you years instead of several inexpensive tarps that only last a few months. These are the best uses for the different tarp fabrics.

Canvas (Treated and Untreated) – Canvas tarps are made of cotton. Untreated tarps are best for room dividers, covers, and painting projects. Treated canvas tarps are water resistant and sometimes fire retardant. They are covered in a wax and oil coating, so they are not ideal for covering items that cannot be stained.

Clear PVC – The see-through nature of clear PVC tarps makes them ideal for construction sites where natural lighting is important. They’re ideal for creating a wall to keep out the weather on a front porch, deck, or entryway.

Iron Horse Polyester – This type of tarp is waterproof and much stronger than cotton canvas. It doesn’t have coatings that stain items, which makes it ideal for covering stored cars and trucks. It’s also good for covering decks and patios.

Mesh – Polyethylene, polypropylene, and vinyl-coated mesh tarps offer a wide range of uses. Each one involves allowing air to flow through the material. They block out UV rays, which makes them ideal for sunshades and privacy screens.

Poly – Poly tarps are water resistant and protect from UV rays. They’re all-purpose tarps that are typically used for jobs like covering a wood pile to keep the wood dry or covering a leaking roof until repairs can be made.

Vinyl – Finally, vinyl tarps are waterproof and resist rips and tears. There are vinyl-coated polyester tarps that are best for covering items like power equipment and furniture or creating awnings. The other option is a vinyl-laminated polyester tarp that’s flame retardant and often used for room dividers or welding curtains.

Store It Only When It’s Clean and Fully Dry

After every use, you should clean your tarp and hang it in the sun to dry out. Do not fold it up for storage until it is fully dry. If you don’t, you may encourage mildew and mold to grow. It can also cause degradation that shortens the life of the tarp.

When it’s time to store the tarp, consider putting it in a plastic tub that has a lid. Place it in a dry spot in a garage or storage area. By placing it in a tub, you eliminate the risk of mice chewing on the tarp and leaving holes.

Repair Damage ASAP

If there is damage to the tarp, repair it as quickly as possible. A coat of Canvak on a multi-purpose tarp boosts water resistance and mildew prevention. Vinyl cement and patches of a matching material repair rips and small holes. Torn grommets can be repaired using a grommet repair kit.

Purchase the Right Tarp for the Job

Make sure you pick the right tarp. A tarp’s longevity is influenced by the conditions. If you purchase a mesh tarp and plan to use it as a pool cover during the winter, it’s likely to rip before spring as it’s meant for light-duty use.

Imagine you own a restaurant that has a heated-outdoor tent for your customers. You run heaters on chilly nights. You wouldn’t want a tarp that wasn’t fire resistant. It would be unsafe, and the heat could ruin the tarp you’ve chosen. Instead, a flame retardant vinyl laminated poly tarp used to create a dining tent is the smart choice.

Don’t forget to consider the weather conditions. If you live in a region where winter temperatures frequently dip well below freezing, a laminated vinyl tarp may crack in the bitter cold. Look for materials like vinyl-coated polyester that withstand the cold. Higher elevations or valleys, where wind gusts are common, may require a heavy-duty tarp to avoid damage from the wind.

Don’t Guess and Waste Your Money. Ask a Professional

If you don’t know the best weight or material to purchase, don’t try to guess and wind up with the wrong tarp. Ask a tarp expert. Chicago Canvas & Supply specializes in tarps and tarp accessories. We even offer free fabric samples if you’re still uncertain. Do you need a custom size or help to pick the right tarp for your specific needs? Experts are ready to help. Request a free tarp quote or call for more information.

Best Types Of Drop Cloths For Painting Projects

Drop cloths keep paint splatters off furnishings and floors. Don’t start a painting job without first protecting the items in your home or business. When you shop for drop cloths at Chicago Canvas & Supply, you benefit from a great range of fabrics and colors. Plus, we offer bulk pricing to help you save money. Here’s a closer look at what we offer.

Top Reasons to Consider Butyl Rubber Drop Cloths

Before you even start painting, are you going to be removing wallpaper, sanding putty, installing sheetrock, and using joint compound to create seamless corners? Butyl rubber drop cloths are ideal. They keep the dust and mess from getting all over your room. These drop cloths come in a variety of sizes:

  • 5 by 12 feet
  • 5 by 14 feet
  • 9 by 12 feet
  • 12 by 15 feet

Butyl drop cloths clean up with ease. Wipe the cloth with a damp rag or wash it in cold water and hang it outside to dry. That’s all it takes to return the drop cloth to its original state.

The butyl rubber drop cloths are slip-resistant, which makes them handy for placing under ladders and scaffolding. The gripping surface also helps avoid tracking. There are three layers of the rubber coating to make sure these drop cloths are durable and designed to last for years.

Top Reasons to Consider Canvas Drop Cloths

If you don’t need slip-resistant drop cloths, cotton canvas drop cloths are an affordable alternative. The heavy-duty fabric is machine washable for quick clean up after your painting job. They’re absorbent, so if you do spill, you don’t have to worry about the paint getting through to your flooring.

You have several options when selecting the right drop cloth for your needs. First, the drop cloths come in 8, 10, or 12-ounce fabric weights. You also have a fantastic range of sizes that include:

  • 4 by 12 feet
  • 4 by 15 feet
  • 4 by 20 feet
  • 5 by 15 feet
  • 5 by 20 feet
  • 9 by 12 feet
  • 12 by 15 feet
  • 14 by 16 feet

Canvas drop cloths are designed for both indoor and outdoor use. Use them outside to protect shrubs and gardens while painting a deck or house trim. Spread them over your patio while you paint a nearby fence. When you’re done, throw them into your washing machine and dryer.

If you like a splash of color, you can get 10-ounce color canvas drop cloths. The material is 100 percent cotton and absorbs spills to prevent tracking. They’re popular in art studios due to the range of more than 3 dozen colors and a wider selection of cut sizes.

  • 5 by 7 feet
  • 6 by 10 feet
  • 8 by 10 feet
  • 10 by 10 feet
  • 10 by 12 feet
  • 10 by 15 feet
  • 10 by 20 feet
  • 10 by 30 feet
  • 20 by 20 feet
  • 20 by 30 feet

Colors come in just as wide a range. There are multiple shades of green, many reds and pinks, and several blues, browns, and grays.

How Do You Pick Which is Best for Your Needs?

What do you need the drop cloth for? If you’re using it outside, a heavy rubber drop cloth may harm grass and flowers as the rubber heats up in the hot sun. The weight of the rubberized drop cloth can also harm some plants during long painting jobs. That’s why most people prefer cotton canvas drop cloths for outdoor painting jobs.

If you’re painting inside and worry about items like ladders sliding around while you’re many feet above the floor, non-slip drop cloths are safer. If you’re working with clay, stucco, or cement, you won’t want those materials in your drain pipes or washing machine. The ability to wipe up those messes from the butyl finish is a must if you’re doing that type of work before painting.

There’s one more thing to consider. The sizing is estimated. Hems and seams on the final drop cloth may reduce the final measurement by a few inches. For this reason, order a drop cloth that is slightly larger than the area you wish to protect. If your room is 10 feet by 12 feet, a tarp that is 12 feet by 15 feet would definitely cover the entire floor.

Receive free shipping in the contiguous U.S. when you order over $75 in drop cloths. Chicago Canvas & Supply has a large variety of materials, sizes, and weights to make it easy to find the best drop cloths for your needs. Do you have questions? We’re happy to answer them at your convenience through live chat or call us at 1-866-389-2218

Tips For Painting Decorative Backdrops On Duvetyne

When you need a material that blocks out light, duvetyne is perfect. It’s the material you often see in theaters that forms the background at the back of the stage. It’s also the material that forms a stage’s skirting. It’s used as a backdrop in photo studios.

This fabric does block light, but it also cuts reflections. It can hide hands or arms when you’re shooting an advertisement where you want the focus to be on the product and not who is holding it. It is a soft, cotton fabric that’s bought by the yard, but you can get it in full rolls.

Duvetyne is affordable. It’s also flame retardant, which is important when there is lighting equipment nearby. As the fire protection is applied to the material, you need to be careful about getting it wet. That’s one thing to keep in mind when you’re thinking about painting duvetyne.

What if you need to paint it? Look into fabric sprays that add a new coating of fire protection. Test a small area to make sure it doesn’t affect the paint you’re using. Chicago Canvas & Supply has a few tips to help you create gorgeous decorative backgrounds on duvetyne.

What Are the Best Paints to Use on Duvetyne?

Which paint should you use to create your background? Acrylic paints are a popular choice, but you have to consider lighting. Paints fade when exposed to constant bright lighting or sunlight. You need to search for UV/fade resistant paints.

Fabric paints are softer in feel. They’re also easier to apply to fabrics for that reason. If you opt to use acrylic paints, you can mix them with gloss or fabric mediums for easier application and to cut down on reflectiveness.

What Techniques Are Used to Paint Decorative Backdrops?

You have two ways to go when painting backgrounds on fabric. You can paint by hand with brushes, sponges, and rollers, or you can use airbrushing.

Supplies Needed for Hand Painted Backdrops

If you want to paint by hand, have brushes in a wide variety of sizes. A roller is good for priming your duvetyne. Sponges are great for work that needs to be hazy like clouds.

Keep a bucket handy for clean up. Acrylic paints wash in warm soapy water. You should have disposable gloves to keep your hands from getting covered in paint. Damp towels will help with clean-up if any paint splatters in unprotected areas.

Fans set in the room help speed up drying times. You may want to have some floor fans available for this reason.

Try Airbrushing

Airbrushing is handy when you want to paint a large section of fabric. It’s done by creating the overall sketch and breaking it down into a grid and then using that grid as a template for painting the final product on the large portion of duvetyne. The benefit to airbrushing is that you can hang the duvetyne and paint vertically rather than stretching the fabric out on the floor.

If you decide to airbrush, you want to weigh down the bottom of the duvetyne after hanging it. This keeps the fabric stiff while you’re using the airbrush.

Prepare Your Surface First

Before you paint your background, use gesso as your primer. Gesso is typically found in white, but you can get it in black, clear, and a rainbow of colors. It is available in sprays or brush-on forms. It creates a surface that is smooth but has a slightly sandy feel that keeps the paint from absorbing into the canvas material. It also helps stiffen the material, which can be helpful when you’re going to be hanging the background.

As an alternative, you could use interior paint colors for your backdrop. PVA primer is the white primer you use in your home. This is ideal if you’re starting with white duvetyne instead of black.

Make Cleaning Up Easy to Handle

To ensure you keep the flooring from paint spills and splatters, purchase a large heavy-duty canvas drop cloth. When you’re done painting, leave your backdrop to dry while you wash brushes and other equipment used while you painted. Once the paint on the duvetyne is dry, move it and fold up the drop cloth for another use.

At Chicago Canvas & Supply, we offer duvetyne in several colors. Choose black if that’s ideal for your production, but know that you can also pick grey, royal blue, silver, white, or wine. It’s easy to create stunning backdrops when you trust in us to help you find the right size and weight. Need help? Message us through our live chat or call (773) 478-5700 to ask an expert.

Tarps For Construction Projects

Construction projects get messy. Dust is just part of it. Paint, grout, joint compound, and stain often splatter. You don’t want those substances getting onto new flooring. You also don’t want to spend hours having to clean up construction dust and debris.

That’s just one reason you need to have tarps on hand. A sudden cloud burst can interrupt the work day if your power tools are set up outside, but protective tarps can ensure you’re able to keep working. Tarps can temporarily divert roof leaks and keep water from ruining an attic or ceiling. It can keep lumber and building supplies dry and form makeshift tents to protect power equipment.

What Tarp is Best for Your Construction Project

With so many different types of materials, picking the right tarp for your construction projects may seem challenging. It doesn’t have to be. Here’s a breakdown of your options and how they’re helpful in different situations.

Canvas Tarps

Canvas tarps are made of 100% cotton, which allows the material to breathe and avoid a build-up of moisture. An oil and wax treatment helps the material repel water and mildew. They’re best used to keep equipment and building supplies dry. The treated canvases are not ideal for canopies or covering materials that may become stained by the oil and wax.

You can get a canvas tarp in 16 or 18-ounce weights. If you want protection from fire, the 16-ounce fire retardant canvas tarp is best for construction sites where there may be heaters running.

Untreated canvas tarps are best for indoor use or outdoor use when it’s dry. They’re a good choice for covering flooring and counters when painting ceilings and walls. They can also be put up as curtains to keep sawdust contained to a specific area.

Drain Tarps

When you need to keep water away from a work area, a drain tarp is needed. Hang the tarp and use the drain spout in the center of the tarp to direct water away. A drain tarp’s spout connects to a garden hose to allow you to direct the water where you want it. Drain tarps come in vinyl laminated nylon that’s flame retardant or polyethylene, which is best for light use.

Drop Cloths

Use 100% cotton canvas drop cloths to keep paint or joint compound from getting tracked from one room to the next and to prevent spills and drips on floors and counters. They’re also beneficial on construction sites where dust is a problem. You can protect surfaces from the dust. At the end of the day, the drop cloth can go outside to be shaken out. It helps avoid needing ours to sweep and wipe up dust.

Mesh Tarps

Do you need to limit the sun’s rays for your worker’s safety? Mesh tarps solve this problem. The tarps allow air to pass, but they block out the sun to help avoid excessive exposure to UVA and UVB rays. You can get mesh tarps in a lightweight polyethylene, CCS polypropylene, or vinyl coated. Vinyl coated add protection from water, so they’re often a favorite in areas where the weather can be unpredictable.

Poly Tarps

Crafted from polyethylene, poly tarps are durable and keep out harmful UV rays during a construction project. They’re also water resistant, so they’re handy at setting up a shelter for power tools. You can also use them to cover damp ground when setting out bags of concrete mix or lumber.

Iron Horse polyester tarps are one of the most durable tarps available. They’re useful in creating shelter from the bright sun. Use them as an awning over a deck as a finishing touch on a new home or set up a shady spot for workers to take breaks.

PVC Tarps

Clear PVC tarp lets the light in without allowing rain and dust in. They can form walls on a porch or patio to create a temporary outdoor workspace during a remodeling project. Construction sites use them to secure an area against the cold wind and rain/snow without decreasing the natural lighting.

A Free Custom Quote Helps You Get the Right Tarp Size

Use tarps for all of your construction projects and save time and hassle. Chicago Canvas & Supply can help you choose the right tarp for whatever your building or renovating. We offer dozens of colors, fabrics, sizes, and weights. If you can’t find the right size, we’re happy to make a custom tarp. Receive a free quote from one of our experts today.