Custom Size Heavy-Duty Tarps

Tarps serve so many purposes, but they can only do their job correctly if you have the right size. Buying a heavy-duty tarp in standard sizes may not meet your needs, so why spend money on something that won’t last? Tarps come in several sizes when you buy them in stores. If you need a tarp that’s larger than the sizes you see offered, a custom size heavy-duty tarp is your best option. You don’t have to be stuck to the sizes you see on a shelf. You can have the right tarp for your needs in the dimensions you demand.

When you’re sizing the area you need to cover or add a wall or privacy screen too, you’ll take the height and width. You may want to add a few inches for overhang if you’re using the tarp to create a canopy or roof cover. If you’re covering a truck bed, you need extra inches to cover the sides of the truck bed to keep water out. A privacy screen can be a more exact fit, so you may not need the extra inches. That’s why the dimensions for width and depth are very important to get right when it comes to a customized tarp. Many of Chicago Canvas & Supply’s tarps are available in custom sizes. Here’s what you need to know about buying a custom-size heavy-duty tarp.

Choose the Tarp by the Material It’s Made From and Its Ideal Use

When you’re buying a tarp, you need to make sure the tarp your purchase matches your needs. That blue lightweight tarp you see in the store may not last for a whole summer if you’re using it to block winds on a deck or patio. If you need a waterproof tarp to cover your car, a canvas tarp isn’t a good choice. Canvas is only water resistant and it can stain. If you need a tarp to cover your pool, you want a tarp that can withstand excessive exposure to UV rays and doesn’t degrade when it’s in water 24/7. If you need a tarp that allows air through, you won’t want one that’s designed to block even small droplets of water..

Ask yourself these questions as you narrow down your choices. Ask if you need the tarp to be breathable, waterproof, or water-resistant. Does the tarp need to be in a specific color or would a standard tarp color like black or silver meet your needs? Does the tarp need to stand up to wind gusts, abrasion, or heavy ice? What are you using the tarp for? What weight is the best? When you’re looking at tarp weights, the weight represents the weight per square yard. A 5-ounce tarp is going to be thinner and less durable than a 16-ounce tarp. Take a look at your options for heavy-duty tarps you can get in custom sizes and their ideal use.


Canvas tarps are made from cotton and are breathable, but they’re also water repellant. Canvas tarps are easily customized to meet your required size. You have several options when it comes to the canvas tarp fabric. There are 16-ounce or 18-ounce canvas tarps available in custom sizes. The 16-ounce tarp comes in fire retardant, too, but that is not available for custom orders. The water-resistant coating on canvas tarps protect from water, but they’re not waterproof. The water-resistant coating may cause stains, so you don’t want it to ruin the finish on the item it’s protecting. Best for:

  • Covering cargo
  • Protecting construction supplies
  • Covering camping necessities

Clear PVC

Clear PVC tarps are 18-ounce tarps that are see-through and waterproof. They’re heavy-duty, but they have to be used in a setting where you want the light to come through. Don’t worry about damage from the sun as they are UV-treated tarps. Best for:

  • Creating weatherproof walls around a covered deck or party tent
  • Covering window and door openings at a construction site
  • Separating areas on a construction site

Iron Horse

Iron Horse tarps are heavy-duty and waterproof. Think of this tarp as a superhero that stands up to most forces and conditions. Iron Horse tarps come in 11 sizes, but you can also order a custom size. When you need the customized Iron Horse tarp, there are 7 colors to choose from (black, blue, brown, green, grey, tan, and white). Best for:

  • Shade structures on a playground, deck, patio, or other backyard structure
  • Protective covers for outdoor furniture
  • Car and boat storage covers


Mesh is usually lightweight, but the vinyl coated mesh tarp is 10 ounces, which makes it more durable. You’d choose this tarp when you need a tarp that breathes. It’s not going to keep water out, but it’s a good choice when you want air to be able to pass through the material. Best for:

  • Blocking views at construction sites
  • Creating a fence liner
  • Adding a privacy screen around a deck or gazebo that also keeps insects out


You also get a choice when it comes to vinyl tarps. One is the 13-ounce vinyl laminated polyester tarp. The 13-ounce tarp comes in 9 colors and is UV treated. If you’re using it in a sunny location, it’s a good choice. This waterproof tarp is best for:

  • Welding projects
  • Salvage covers
  • Curtains

The 18-ounce vinyl coated polyester tarp comes in 16 colors. It’s heavier than the 13-ounce laminated tarp, but it’s also UV-treated and waterproof. The 18-ounce tarp resists abrasion and doesn’t rip or tear. Best for:

  • Crop and hay covers
  • Cargo covers on farm trucks and freighters
  • Worksite dividers

What if your tarp needs don’t seem to fall into any of these categories? You might not really know whether you want a waterproof or water-resistant tarp. The wide range of options can seem overwhelming. If you get stuck, you can always ask the professionals for guidance. Sometimes, two types of tarps can fit your needs. If that’s the case, it may come down to colors, weights, and prices and a tarp specialist can help you with the final decision.

Understand the Difference Between Cut Size and Finish Size

Before you order any tarp, check if you’re purchasing a cut size or finish size tarp. Cut size tarps are measured before any finishing work is completed. Finishing work involves putting in the hems, a center seam created where two or more panels of the tarp are joined to form a larger tarp, and adding grommets. Each of these seams of hems reduces the dimensions on each side. Generally, you lose 3 inches for a hem and additional inches in the seams where panels join together. That means you can lose as much as 8-9 inches vertically and horizontally once hems and seams are added. Just remember “cut size” is while it’s being cut and altered and “finish size” is after it’s finished.

Imagine you’re covering a 40 by 60 roof. You order a tarp that’s 40 by 60 feet not realizing the company sells cut size tarps. The tarp arrives and after the panels are joined and hems and grommets are added, you’ve lost 9 inches from each measurement. The tarp is almost a foot too short vertically and horizontally. You suddenly have a tarp that doesn’t cover the entire leaking roof and have to order and wait for another to arrive. All that time, the water keeps leaking in where the tarp doesn’t cover the entire roof.

Finish size is measured after all of the finishing work. When you order finish size tarps, the size you order is exactly what you get. You’ve ordered a tarp that’s 40 by 60 feet in finish size. While it arrives, you open the package and the tarp is definitely 40 by 60 feet and exactly what you need.

There’s another reason you need to be careful about ordering the correct size. Tarps often have a 30-day satisfaction guarantee on tarps, but that guarantee doesn’t cover custom orders or tarp bought by the yard. You could end up out some money if you order using your final dimensions and not cut size dimensions.

Have a Tarp Specialist Help With Your Custom Order

Most tarps at Chicago Canvas are cut size. To order the right size, talk to customer support if you cannot find if the tarp is cut size or finish size. Once you know, make sure you add 6 to 9 inches to your measurements. Adding those extra inches to the sides guarantees the tarp will be the right size. You can also have us help.

Do you want to know the best way to get the right tarp size? Ask for help. Chicago Canvas & Supply’s experts are here to answer your questions. Fill out the custom quote form and give us the dimensions you need. Make sure you specify finish size. We will take care of the calculations for you. We’ll add the correct number of inches to each side to ensure the finish size tarp matches your measurements. Tell us what you need by filling out our custom quote form.