Camping-Tarps-101

Canvas vs. Vinyl Tarps

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

The Look and Feel

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

The Durability

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

Resistance to Environmental Elements

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

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

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

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

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

The Price

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

The Impact on the Environment

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

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

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

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