Fall Tarp Tips – Which Tarps Are Best For Preparing For Winter?

Tarps are useful items that can be made out of a number of different materials, including canvas, vinyl, and PVC, among others. You should consider many factors when determining which tarp is right for you, including the intended use, price, and durability. But, these aren’t the only factors that should influence your decision. Many people forget to consider one important factor when choosing a tarp: the time of year. At this time of year, a lot of people are purchasing tarps in order to prepare for the upcoming winter season. Sound familiar? If so, here’s what you need to know:

Which Tarps Can Withstand Winter Weather?

The winter season is known for its low temperatures and high winds, so you will need a tarp that is strong enough to withstand both. Unfortunately, some tarps are not designed to hold up in extremely windy environments. Vinyl and polyester tarps are ideal for windy conditions, however they must be tied down securely in order to withstand high winds. It doesn’t matter how durable the tarp is—it will not stay put if it’s not tied down properly.

It’s typically not a good idea to use mesh or canvas tarps in the winter. Both of these materials are far too lightweight to hold up in windy conditions. Plus, they are lightweight fabrics that will not provide much—if any—wind coverage.

Vinyl and PVC are the best tarps for cold weather conditions. Extremely cold temperatures will not affect these materials. In fact, the most durable vinyl and PVC tarps are designed to withstand temperatures as low as -40 degrees Fahrenheit. Some polyester tarps can withstand cold temperatures, however others become brittle when exposed to extreme cold. If your heart is set on a polyester tarp, it’s important to look for a heavy duty one that is designed for outdoor use.

Winter is certainly not the sunniest season, but some areas get a great deal of sunshine even in the coldest months. In Florida, for example, the weather may drop at night in the winter, but it typically stays sunny throughout the day. If you live in this type of climate, you will also need to find a tarp that is resistant to UV light. Polyester and vinyl tarps are usually not UV resistant on their own, so they are often treated with a special chemical that makes the material strong enough to withstand UV exposure. However, if the material has not been treated with this chemical, it should not be used in sunny outdoor areas. Play it safe by looking for a tarp that is described as either “UV resistant” or “UV treated.” The former describes a material that is naturally resistant to UV light, whereas the latter indicates that the material has been treated in order to withstand UV light exposure.

Another factor to consider is the tarp’s water resistance. Tarps that are used outdoors in the winter need to be heavily resistant to water so they are not damaged when the snow starts to melt. Polyester, vinyl, and PVC tarps are highly resistant to water, in addition to mold and mildew growth. This makes these three materials ideal for outdoor use when water or snow may be present.

How to Use Tarps in the Winter

By now, it should be clear which tarps are strong enough to be used in the winter season. But, how exactly should the tarps be used in the winter? Use tarps to cover your swimming pool and protect it from the strong winter winds. Tarps can also be thrown over items that are being transported in the back of a pick-up truck. As long as the tarp is secured in place, it will keep the items safe until they’ve reached their final destination.

Tarps can also be placed over plants and flowerbeds at night when the temperatures are expected to drop below freezing. Placing a tarp over your prized garden will keep your plants alive until morning when temperatures start to rise again.

Plants aren’t the only things that tarps can protect in the winter. Many people use tarps to cover their boats, bikes, and motorcycles in the winter. These items won’t be needed until the weather starts to warm up, so it’s best to keep them covered with a heavy duty tarp all winter. The tarp will ensure your valuables are not damaged by harsh environmental elements. Plus, the tarps will also serve as a barrier to keep animals, bugs, and dirt out.

If you plan on camping in the winter, make sure you pack a tarp or two in your bag. The tarp can be used to block wind from entering your campsite so you can stay warm and keep the fire burning all night long. The tarp can also be placed on the floor of the tent so you don’t drag dirt and mud inside. If you need to carry firewood back to your campsite, use the tarp to lift more wood than you would be able to carry on your own. Place the tarp on the ground, and then pile the wood in the center of the tarp. Pick the tarp up on one end, and have a buddy pick it up on the other end. Now, you can transport heavy items back to your campsite with ease.

If you’re interested in purchasing a tarp for fall activities, contact Chicago Canvas & Supply for more information. We are your leading source for tarps, textiles, theatre fabrics, ropes, drop cloths, and more. We are more than happy to send free samples to customers so they can test fabrics prior to purchasing them. To place a request for samples, contact us today by calling 1-866-389-2218 or emailing email@chicagocanvas.com.

10 Different Ways to Use Tarps

A tarp is something that everyone should have at home or in the car. Why? Tarps are incredibly versatile and durable, so you never know when these heavy-duty materials will come in handy. Here’s a look at 10 of the ways you can use tarps:

Build A Hammock

A high quality tarp is strong enough to hold your body weight, so it can be fashioned into a hammock in the event you need to sleep outside. All you will need is a little bit of rope and a shady spot between two trees. Sleeping in a hammock as opposed to on the ground will keep you away from insects and water and prevent you from sleeping on the hard ground.

Cover Broken Windows, Doors, or Roofs

Broken windows, doors, and roofs are not always repaired right away. If you’re living with a broken window, door, or roof, use a tarp to cover the broken area. The tarp will prevent rain, insects, and debris from coming into your home and causing more damage. Once the repairman arrives, simply remove the tarp so they can access the broken area.

Keep Items in Transport Safe

Items that are transported in the bed of a pickup truck are at risk of getting damaged or dirty before they reach their final destination. If you need to transport something such as a mattress or piece of furniture, keep it safe on its journey with the help of a tarp. Secure the items in place in the bed of the truck and lay the tarp on top so it completely covers your belongings. Tie the tarp down using rope so it does not fly off of the back of the truck while it’s in motion.

Collect Drinking Water

No camper or hiker ever plans on running out of water, but it’s important to know what to do just in case you ever find yourself in this situation. Dig a shallow hole in the ground and line the inside of it with a tarp. The next time it rains, the tarp will fill with fresh drinking water. Another option is to tie the tarp to two trees and let it catch rainwater there instead. Either way, the tarp will make it easier for you to survive with a fresh water supply.

Entertain Kids

Believe it or not, it’s possible to entertain kids with a tarp as well. Kids can use the tarp to build a fort at home or in the woods near your campsite. If the weather is hot, grab a hose and a tarp to create your own version of a slip and slide. It’s very hard to damage this tough material, so it’s perfect for rambunctious children who are looking for something fun to do.

Block Wind

Campers know how frustrating it is to try to light a fire or stay warm on a windy night. There’s no need to sit back and wait for the wind to die down if you’ve packed a tarp in your backpack. Figure out which direction the wind is coming from, then tie the tarp up to two trees so it is facing the right direction. The tarp will block the wind from entering your campsite so you can light a fire and stay comfortable all night long.

Use As A Makeshift Stretcher

An accident can happen at any time, so it’s important to be prepared. If someone is injured and unable to walk or stand on their own, use a tarp as a makeshift stretcher. Gently place the injured person down on the center of the tarp. Then, ask a few people to assist you with lifting the tarp by the edges and carrying the person to safety. The tarp is strong enough to hold this weight, so you won’t need to worry about the injured person falling through it.

Carry Heavy Items

Tarps can hold a significant amount of weight, so they are ideal for carrying heavy items such as firewood or supplies. Place the tarp flat on the ground and place the heavy items in the center. Then, grab one end of the tarp and ask a buddy to grab the other end. Now, you can easily transport heavy objects that you would not have been able to carry otherwise.

Protect Floors and Furniture

Pull your tarps out whenever you need to protect your floors and furniture. This is ideal for people who plan on painting the walls in their home. Instead of moving all of their furniture out of the room, throw tarps on top of the furniture and floors to protect it from the paint.

Tarps can also be used to protect flooring when you are moving into a home. Lay the tarps down so the movers do not stain your flooring with the dirt and debris on the bottom of their shoes.

Keep Car Seats Clean

Pets can carry dirt and debris on their paws that will end up in your car if you need to take your furry friends somewhere. Don’t let a trip to the vet turn into a mess in your backseat—use a tarp to protect your car seats. Place the tarp over your backseat before letting your pet inside your car. If your pet does drag in dirt or debris, it will wind up on the tarp instead of your leather interior.

These are just some of the many ways to use tarps in your day-to-day life. If you’re interested in purchasing tarps, contact Chicago Canvas & Supply. We are your leading source for tarps in all different shapes, sizes, and materials. Feel free to contact us to request a free sample of our high-quality tarps. To place a request for samples, contact us today by calling 1-866-389-2218 or emailing email@chicagocanvas.com.

When to Use PVC Tarps

Polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, is one of the most frequently used plastics in the world. In fact, it is estimated that over 40 million tons of PVC are used every year, and this number is expected to grow over the next several years. PVC is used in hundreds of different ways. It is used to create credit cards, medical devices, children’s toys, raincoats, shower curtains, and more. In addition to these uses, this popular material is also used to create tarps.

PVC is one of many materials that is used to create tarps. Some of the other common materials that are used to create tarps include canvas, mesh, and vinyl. When should you use a PVC tarp instead of one of the other options available? Here are some of the most common uses of PVC tarps:

Construction Sites

It’s common for construction companies to use PVC tarps while working on construction sites. The tarps are thrown over heavy machinery and other equipment found on construction sites in order to protect it when it is not in use. Heavy machinery and equipment is often left on-site even when the workers go home because it is too difficult to transport back and forth everyday. PVC tarps are used to protect equipment and machinery because of their resistance to various environmental elements, including water, wind, and UV rays. These tarps are also extremely durable, which is why construction workers trust them to protect expensive equipment and machinery.


PVC tarps are perfect for outdoor use, so they are often used on campsites as well. A PVC tarp can be tossed over firewood to ensure it does not get ruined in a rainstorm. It can also cover supplies that you need to protect while in the wilderness. Many campers even use PVC tarps to create a makeshift tent that provides protection from the sun, wind, and rain. If you already have a tent, place a PVC tarp inside to protect the bottom from damage. These are just a handful of ways that PVC tarps are used on campsites. Because these tarps are so useful while camping, it’s a good idea to pack a few PVC tarps in your bag if you’re planning to spend a few nights under the stars in the future.

In the Garage

Because PVC tarps are so durable, they are often used to protect valuable belongings that homeowners store in their garage. For example, a PVC tarp can cover bicycles, boats, motorcycles, tool boxes, and other prized possessions. Even though these items are not exposed to many environmental elements in the garage, the PVC tarp adds another layer of protection to ensure your items are safe.

Home Improvement Projects

Handymen typically use PVC tarps in a number of ways when working on home improvement projects. If you’re planning on painting the walls, cover the floors and furniture with PVC tarps first. Paint that splashes or drips off of the walls will land on the PVC tarp instead of your furniture or floors. PVC tarps are also perfect for outdoor painting jobs since they are so resistant to harsh environmental elements. Throw a PVC tarp over your landscaping before you start to paint to make sure you don’t splash paint onto your beautiful flowers.

Workers may need to walk in and out of your home repeatedly while working on a renovation, repair, or remodel. As they walk in and out, they could bring dirt and debris into your home and ruin your carpets. To prevent this from happening, it’s best to lay PVC tarps down on your flooring before inviting workers inside. They can walk across the PVC tarps as they move in and out of your home so they don’t accidentally stain your carpeting with their dirty shoes.

If you’re completely renovating part of your home, it’s important to block this area off until the work has been done. Hanging a PVC tarp in the doorway can prevent dust from the construction site from flying through the rest of your home. It can also prevent little ones and animals from accidentally walking into a construction zone within your home. Since PVC is transparent, you can still keep an eye on the work that’s being done without removing the tarp or putting yourself in harm’s way.

PVC tarp can also come in handy when your home is in need of repair, but you must wait for a repairman to arrive. For example, let’s say you discover a leak in your roof, but no one can come to your home to repair it for several hours. Instead of letting the water damage the inside of your home, lay a PVC tarp down to protect your home until help arrives. These are just some of the many ways that PVC tarps are used in home improvement projects.

Transporting Equipment Via Truck

If you need to transport equipment or tools in your pick-up truck, it’s smart to cover everything with a PVC tarp before you hit the road. This is especially true if there’s rain or high winds in the weather forecast. Before you start the ignition, make sure that the PVC tarp is securely in place so it does not fly off once the truck begins moving. As long as it’s in place, it will keep everything safe until you’ve reached your final destination.

As you can see, PVC tarps are versatile and can be used in many different situations. If you’re interested in purchasing a PVC tarp, contact Chicago Canvas & Supply. We are your leading source for backdrops, textiles, theatre fabrics, tarps, drop cloths, and more. We are happy to send free material samples to our clients. To place a request for samples, contact us today by calling 1-866-389-2218 or emailing email@chicagocanvas.com.

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.

Camping Tarps 101

Ahhh, the great outdoors! All campers know that your trip is only as good as your survival skills and your tools. That’s why you need a great camping tarpaulin—they can come in handy for an unlimited amount of outdoor situations. Make your adventure a smooth one. Use this post as your guide to choosing the right camping tarp and getting the most use out of it.

Which kind of tarps should be used for camping?

You’d want something waterproof, durable and weatherproof. So, the best tarps for camping would be either vinyl-coated polyester tarps or iron horse polyester tarps. You can also use some lightweight camping tarps, like poly tarps, for short-term light-duty use (never for pitching tents or providing shelter, though).

Tarp vs Tent

Tarps can be used as shelter, but should you use them instead of a tent? Well, it depends on your preference. If you want to “rough it”, be our guest and pitch a tarp to use as shelter. However, tarps are usually used for shelter under “survivalist” situations. For families and less experienced campers, we recommend complementing your tent with a couple different tarps to provide extra protection and a ton of extra use throughout your trip.

Uses for Tarps While Camping

A tarpaulin could have an endless amount of use on your camping trip. Use it practically (such as ground covers, protection covers, privacy screens, etc.) and for survival! Check out just some of what you can use tarps for while camping.

Tent ground tarp – A tarpaulin can be placed underneath the tent on the ground or inside the tent covering the floor to block out moisture and add extra protection (this will also prolong the life of your tent!).

Ground sheets – Pull out your tarp to sit on during picnics, hikes or just around your campsite.

Rain barrier – Have extra protection in case a storm hits, protect yourself and your stuff against the mud, create a short-term shelter while bringing gear in/out of your tent, and cover your campfire.

Wind – Tarps can act as a windbreaker for your shelter.

Shade – Vinyl-coated poly tarps are UV-treated, so they protect you against the sun and its rays. Ideal for desert camping! Use this helpful video to learn how to hang a tarp from trees over your campsite.

Camp kitchen shelter – You should never cook inside your tent. Instead, create a cooking area with a tarp secured from above to protect against the elements. If your tarp will be next to an open flame, you will need a flame-retardant tarp.

Campfire protection – A must for when there’s unkind weather. A tarp can also help keep the warmth in, making your campsite cozy.

Tarp hammock – A comfortable and useful rest area/survival shelter. If you’d like a tutorial for this, here’s an excellent video from Survival Tracker. You can even go a step further and protect your hammock with another tarp shelter (see tutorial).

Tarping a Campsite

There are several different ways to tarp a campsite. Here are three of the most popular tarp shelter configurations:

  1. Diamond Fly
    • What it is: a diagonal pitch using a square tarp.
    • What you’ll need: Trees/poles, stakes, guy line and a square tarp.
    • Ideal for: Personal shelter, protecting against rain/sun, maintaining warmth.
  1. A-Frame
    • What it is: a tarp that’s pitched from the middle.
    • What you’ll need: 8×8 or 8×10 tarp, paracord, loops, stakes, lighter and a knife.
    • Ideal for: Roomier shelter (with two walls a roof) for campers, pets and equipment; shelter during snow or rain (because the angle allows for runoff)
  1. Envelope Tarp Shelter
    • What it is: A tarp that’s pitched from each corner at different heights to create a pocket for shelter.
    • Ideal for: Protection from ground and one side.
    • What you’ll need: guy line, stakes, trees/poles, tarp.

These are just a few ways you can pitch a camping tarp. Which others do you rely on? Let us know in the comments below.

Until next time–stay happy, campers! 😊

Unsure which kind of tarp of what tarp size to purchase?

GG Knows – A Dictionary of Textile Terms

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

Ready to learn something new? Let’s get started!
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40 Tarpaulin Uses

One of the reasons we love tarps is because they’re so versatile. If you buy one for your home, we’re sure you’ll be bringing it out time and time again. Check out some of the creative uses for tarps!

Creative Tarpaulin Uses


DIY Tarp Tent

  1. You can pitch a tent from your tarp.
  2. Protect the bottom of your tent.
  3. Use as a windbreaker.
  4. Make privacy dividers.
  5. Create shower/restroom area.


  1. Keep wood dry.
  2. Animal shelter.
  3. Keep your fire in the rain.
  4. Shade yourself, or your supplies from the sun.
  5. Sleep or protect yourself from weather under DIY shelter.


  1. Cover supplies.
  2. Make a hammock.
  3. Hunting and fishing gear.
  4. Carry/transport supplies (firewood, food, etc.) around.


  1. Create a make-shift picnic or rest area during breaks.
  2. Make a rain poncho.


  1. Gather water.
  2. Make a floatation device.
  3. Camouflage (with the right color, like olive drab).
  4. Use as a gurney to transport injured individuals.


  1. Use to treat roof leaks.
  2. Use as a ground cover for simple clean-up.
  3. Protect floor while painting.
  4. Warm plants on cold nights.
  5. Use as temporary covers for renovation, construction, and unfinished projects.
  6. Make temporary room divider curtains.
  7. Cover and protect storage.
  8. Protect your carpet while moving.
  9. Cover patio furniture during rain/snow or shade from sun.
  10. Protect bikes from snow/rain/sun.
  11. Equipment and supply cover (sports, construction, garden, wood etc.).
  12. Use instead of a painters drop cloth.
  13. Play space for kids.


  1. Car/truck covers (inside and outside the vehicle).
  2. Boat/yacht covers.
  3. Boat windows.
  4. Boat sail.


  1. Use on a hot day as a slip-n-slide.
  2. Make your own waterproof bags.
  3. Use for the kid’s fort.

Find Tarps for Every Occasion

Waterproof - Water-resistant - Light- to Heavy-Duty