Do Tarps Hold In Heat?

Tarps are useful for indoor and outdoor use. Most people think of them as a covering to keep items dry and protect them from ice, rain, and snow, but they’re good for more than that. One of the handiest features of some tarps is that they can hold in heat. 

Tarps are excellent insulators in a variety of situations. Explore the different types of tarps that hold in heat, and take a closer look at what their best use is when trapping heat is your goal.

Types of Tarps That Hold In Heat

What are the best tarps for trapping heat? You want a tarp that’s thick, water-resistant, and doesn’t allow air to pass through. If air is able to pass, as would happen with a canvas or Ironhorse tarp, you may get cold air in. That defeats the purpose of the insulating tarp.

A darker color will attract the sun, which is beneficial for heating things up, but there are conditions where you may need a clear tarp. If the goal is to block cold air while allowing light in, a clear PVC tarp is ideal.

Clear PVC Tarp: Clear PVC curtains are waterproof and heavy at 18 ounces per square yard. They’re 20 mils thick and do well at resisting rips and tears with extended use. As they’re clear, light can pass through and illuminate an area. They’re one of the best choices for insulating open door frames and windows on a construction site. They come in sizes ranging from 6’x8’ to 10’x10’. Custom sizes are available.

Heavy-Duty Poly Tarp: Choose from brown/green, silver UVR, white, or green/silver heavy-duty poly tarps. They’re water-resistant and range from 4 mils to 12 mils thick. Thicker is going to offer more insulation. These are our picks for warming up the soil for gardening as they don’t completely keep water from seeping through over time. Sizes range from 8’x10’ to 30’x50’ for green/silver and silver UVR, 10’x12’ to 40’x60’ for white, and 12’x20’ to 30’x50’ for brown/green.  

Vinyl-Coated Polyester Tarp: An 18-ounce, 20-mil vinyl-coated tarp comes in 16 colors, which allows you to match your outdoor aesthetics. There are also 10 sizes available ranging from 5’x7’ to 10’x100’ or custom sizes if that range doesn’t work for you. It’s waterproof and UV-treated, which will keep the sun’s rays from degrading the tarp’s coating, but the material will block winds and resist rips and tears. 

What Can You Use These Tarps For?

Those are the best tarps for warming an area, but what are their best uses when it comes to trapping heat? Here are some of the ways to use them.

  1. Emergency Repairs:

A particularly windy storm took down a tree branch and that branch smashed a window. You have cold air pouring into your house. Clear PVC tarps form a barrier that lets light in while blocking out the colder air. It’s not a permanent fix, but it buys you time until a professional can come to replace your window pane.

A vinyl tarp is also helpful if something damages your roof. It keeps water out and prevents heat loss from your attic space to the outside. This is especially helpful if water is soaked into the insulation.

  1. Kickstarting the Gardening Season:

Are you a gardener or want to get started? Place a vinyl tarp over your garden area to start warming the soil now. Northern states benefit from having the soil thawed, warmed, and ready for planting. 

Some people have embraced the lasagna gardening trend. Encourage the cardboard, compost, leaves, and other materials to break down faster by covering the layers with a dark-colored tarp. The dark color attracts the sun, which warms the materials and helps them compost quickly. When it’s starting to break down, add seeds and let the roots of those young plants help with the composting process.

Once the ground has thawed, you can add warm-weather seedlings and seeds. Protect them against frost by using concrete blocks and posts and secure a clear PVC tarp over the garden bed for a makeshift greenhouse.

  1. Getting More Use From Patios and Decks:

Do you have a covered deck or patio that doesn’t get used until the weather warms up? Add clear PVC tarps to the posts and create walls that block out cold breezes while allowing the sunlight in. It will warm up the area, which extends the number of months you can use your deck or patio. 

Add a heavy-duty poly tarp or vinyl tarp over your decking to prevent airflow from coming up between the boards. Those two steps will trap heat and create a warm outdoor space where you can enjoy being outside without getting cold. On warmer days, you can drop one wall and switch to a mesh tarp to keep bugs out and allow some fresh air in.

  1. Warming Up Outdoor Pools:

Another issue in a northern climate is that pools can take forever to warm up. The days may be warm enough, but as temperatures drop at night, the pool water cools back down, defeating any warmth it gained during the day. Use a vinyl tarp to trap the warmth from the water overnight. When the sun is on the pool again, you can remove the tarp. 

This technique also helps keep bugs, birds, and other animals from getting into your pool. It keeps leaves, pollen, dirt, twigs, and pine needles out. It ends up making pool maintenance a lot easier.

  1. Protecting Backyard Poultry:

During the pandemic, many homeowners with the space started their own backyard chicken coops. It continued as the price of eggs skyrocketed. While chickens have feathers for insulation, below-zero temperatures do make it hard for them to go outside.

Clear PVC tarps keep their yard warm while letting the sunlight in. Secure the PVC tarp outside of the chicken pen to keep them from pecking at it. Vinyl tarps can add protection from drafts if you cover the outside of the coop’s walls and roofing.

  1. Experiencing Winter Camping:

Winter camping isn’t for everyone, but some people enjoy camping enough that they want to try it in the winter, too. Keeping warm after the sun sets is essential. Cover tents with protective tarps that keep out cold breezes and add more insulation. Covering the snow-packed ground with a vinyl tarp keeps the snow from melting as your body heat warms the tent floor. 

Expert Tip: Avoid Tarps That Allow Air to Flow

As long as you select a tarp that doesn’t allow airflow, you won’t have cold air flowing through the tarp. Everything behind or under the tarp stays warm, and when you no longer need the benefit of an insulative barrier, tarps are easily removed, rinsed off, dried, and stored until needed again. 

Chicago Canvas & Supply has a wide range of tarps available, and many can be custom-sized to fit your needs. Whether you’re looking for clear PVC tarps to screen in a deck for wintertime use or want to keep your garden beds warmed up to get a jumpstart on the growing season, our selection of U.S.-made tarps are perfect. Visit us online to see options and prices or send us a message for help finding a custom-sized tarp.