Do Tarps Work for Slip and Slides?

Summer is here. To stay cool on hot days, many kids head for the nearest pool, lake, river, or pond. There’s an easier way to stay cool. A backyard slip and slide pairs a waterproof vinyl tarp with flowing water to create a water slide you can set up anywhere.

You could head to the store and buy an official Slip ‘N Slide. If you do, there are usually size limits. Most official backyard water slides are in the 15 to 20 foot range. If you plan to join your children playing outside, a longer water slide is going to be ideal. With a little creativity and the right materials, you can build your own backyard water slide.

The History of the Slip ‘N Slide

WHAM-O is likely a name you’ve heard a lot in your childhood. The company was founded out of a family garage and started with something as simple as a hula hoop and a Frisbee. In 1961, one of WHAM-O’s most loved summer toys came out – a backyard water slide for children.

The Slip ‘N Slide was a 25-foot long by a 3.33-foot wide sheet of treated plastic with small holes along the edges and an end that attached to a garden hose. The small holes allowed the water to spray out creating a very slippery surface for anyone who dove onto it. The Slip ‘N Slide could be set up on even or sloped ground for backyard fun in the summer heat.

Why Not Build Your Own Backyard Water Slide?

Slip ‘N Slide toys are still available today in toy stores across the country. They’ve advanced to having slides that come to an end with a pool, wider slides that fit multiple people at once, and slides with archways you pass under.

If you need a longer slide than Wham-O makes, you have to buy more than one slide and put them together. With a piece of durable tarp, you can design your own backyard water slide to fit your yard’s specific dimensions. You can make it wide enough that children aren’t sliding off the edge and onto grass and dirt. Make it long enough to go all the way down a backyard slope that extends 100 feet or more.

Which Tarps Make the Best Backyard Slip and Slides?

You’ve decided to make your own slip and slide for the backyard. Start by choosing the right material. It has to be waterproof, durable, and resist damage from the sun’s rays.

Vinyl polyester tarps are great for this purpose. You could use clear plastic, but it’s less durable and will probably only last one season. Spend a bit more money and you have a slip and slide for the backyard that will last for years if not decades.

The heavy weight of an 18-ounce vinyl-coated polyester tarp is designed to resist abrasion and tears with excellent durability. It’s thick, waterproof, and resists mildew, too. Finally, the UV treatment protects the tarp from sun damage.

Using Your New Slip and Slide

Before you spread out your tarp, check the area of the lawn for rocks, sticks, and other items that may cause harm if you land on them. When you’ve removed all foreign objects, lay the tarp out in the desired area.

Wet the vinyl tarp down with a hose. Add a cup or two of an environmentally-friendly dish soap to help maintain a very slippery surface without harming the grass and gardens in your yard. Lay a soaker hose along the top edge and secure it to the grommets using zip ties. Just remind the kids to avoid diving on the hose or they might get scratched by the zip ties.

Leave the water running at a slow trickle when the kids are playing. Over time, the surface may not be as slick. Add a bit more dish soap to restore the slickness.

If you don’t like the soaker hose idea, pool noodles are a good alternative. Find pool noodles at your nearby dollar store. Use velcro strips along the top of the tarp or down one side of the tarp. Place another section of velcro strips on the pool noodles. Use the velcro to secure the pool noodles to the tarp.

Drill ¼ inch holes equally spaced along the edge of the pool noodles. Attach a nozzle sprayer to your hose and push the nozzle into the hole on the pool noodle. Turn on the water and it will spray through the holes you’ve drilled as the kids play.

End of the Summer Storage Tips

At the end of the summer, thoroughly rinse off both sides of the slip and slide tarp. Hang it on a laundry line to thoroughly dry out. Fold it up and put it in a mice-proof container until it’s warm enough to use it again.

Chicago Canvas & Supply sells vinyl tarp in custom sizes. Let us know what size tarp you’re looking for for your backyard slide, and we’ll make it happen. You can call us with those dimensions or fill out the Get a Quote form for a free quote.

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