A utility trailer is used to haul items like landscaping equipment, power sports equipment, furniture, supplies, and debris. While you’re carrying these items from one area to another, the last thing you need is for something to fly off and hit another car, get lost in a ditch, or be damaged by a sudden storm.
It’s essential to use the best tarp for a utility trailer in order to prevent loss or damage. The wrong tarp will fail to protect your items as you’d hoped. How do you choose the right tarp for your needs?
Things to Consider When Choosing a Utility Trailer Tarp
You want to protect the items you’re transporting. Here are the most important factors to consider when choosing the best tarp for your utility trailer.
Items Being Covered
Start by coming up with a list of items you’ll be transporting in your utility trailer. If you’re using it to transport boxes from clients’ houses when they pay you to help them move, a tarp that lets moisture through is insufficient. If you’re transporting mulch, you want a tarp that withstands abrasion.
Suppose you’re using your utility trailer to bring items to contracting jobs. You have sharp corners on doors, lumber, and windows. You want a tarp that doesn’t rip or tear.
Another factor is if the tarp is breathable. Imagine you’re transporting wood furniture from your mom’s home. She’s moving across the country to be closer to you. The sun will heat the load while you drive across the country, and at night, that means the cooler air may lead to condensation if the tarp prevents airflow.
You might not really care about keeping your items dry. If you’re hauling trash and other junk after a home cleaning, you probably don’t care about protecting the items. It would be best if you still considered rain. If things get wet or saturated, it will add to the weight you’re bringing to the waste and recycling center. Some charge extra if you exceed a certain weight, and that should matter to you.
Waterproof or Water-Resistant
Do the items below the tarp need to stay dry? If the items could deteriorate in water, you want a waterproof tarp. Hay, cardboard, furniture, and sheetrock are all items that must stay dry. If the items can withstand a little water, a water-resistant tarp should suffice.
Typical Weather Conditions
Weather conditions also impact the type of tarp you want for your trailer. If you live in a region where temperatures go well below freezing, you want a tarp that can handle temperature extremes. If you’re in a sunny area, a tarp that withstands UVA and UVB rays is important.
Strong winds are also worth considering. If it’s very gusty where you live, you need to choose a tarp that doesn’t rip or tear easily if wind gusts pull and lift the tarp, which can lead to damage.
Distance You Travel
How far are you towing items? If you’re going to another state, you’ll want a tarp that withstands more activity. If you only travel around town, you may not need a tarp that’s quite as heavy-duty.
Length, Width, and Side Height Dimensions
How far down the sides of the utility trailer do you want coverage? If you want an extra six inches on the front, back, left, and right sides, you need to add a foot to both the width and depth.
In addition, you also need to allow for finishing work and grommets. Typically, you add a few inches to create the hem and any seams. Tarps come in cut size or finish size. Cut size is measured before any hems and seams are sewn. Allow about three inches to get used up while hemming each edge of the tarp or sewing two tarps to create a larger one. These hems and seams are finished before the grommets are added.
Suppose you need a tarp for a 6′ x 14′ utility trailer. You’re hauling landscaping equipment that stands about 4′ high. You need a tarp that covers the equipment and comes down the sides to keep water out. You’d want a tarp that accounts for 4′ on each side. To account for this, you want a tarp that is 14′ x 22′.
That’s the tarp, but you also have the grommets and hem that will take up 3″ per side or half a foot vertically and horizontally. As a result, you’d need to increase the tarp to 14.5′ x 22.5′.
How far apart do you need the grommets? Consider how you’ll secure the tarp to the sides of the utility trailer. You’re probably going to use cable laced into the grommets and attached to the posts and rails of the trailer. You want the tarp to be tightened down and secure so that drafts and gusts of wind don’t cause the tarp to flap. Grommet spacing helps here.
The closer together the grommets are, the more lashing you have for securing the tarp. Ideally, choose a tarp with closely spaced grommets. If that’s not possible, you can always purchase a grommet kit and add your own.
Finally, check out the hem strength. You don’t want a hem that’s too weak for the wind force created while driving down a highway or interstate. Look to see if the hem is double thick or not. You want a double-thick hem to cover the items on your utility trailer. Heat-sealed seams are another choice when it comes to strength.
Consider These Tarps
What types of tarps are best for utility trailers? Here are our suggestions and the reasons we’d choose them.
Canvas – Canvas tarps come in 16 or 18-ounce fabric weights. These breathable cotton tarps are only water-resistant, but they are great at preventing condensation. They have an odor because of the water-resistant coating, but they’re soft and ideal for covering cargo, landscaping, sports, and construction materials. Grommets are placed about 24 inches apart.
Iron Horse – Iron Horse tarps are twice as strong as cotton canvas. Like canvas, the polyester fabric allows air to pass, but they’re completely waterproof. Double-thick hems provide a lot of strength. The tarps have a dry finish that doesn’t smell of chemicals or plastic, so your porous materials like upholstery will not pick up unpleasant odors. Grommets are placed every 24 inches or so.
Polyethylene Tarps – Blue poly tarps are the one tarp to avoid for covering your utility trailer. They’re not very durable. Instead, choose brown/green, silver, or white heavy-duty poly tarps. Silver UVR poly tarps are excellent at blocking UV rays. They’re good at protecting boats, farm equipment, and sports equipment. Grommet placement is about 18 inches apart.
Vinyl Tarps – Vinyl coated poly tarps are waterproof, withstand temperature extremes, and protect against UVA and UVB rays. Seams are heat-sealed for added durability and strength. They’re a top choice if tarp abrasion is a concern. If you’re transporting hay bales, these tarps are perfect. Grommet placement is approximately every 24 inches.
Chicago Canvas & Supply sells these tarps in several pre-measured cut sizes. We also offer custom sizes if you’re not finding the proper tarp measurements. Reach us by phone or email to discuss your choice for the best utility trailer tarp.