How Are Tarps Sized and Measured?

You took measurements. You checked your measurements three times. You’re certain you got the right dimensions. But, the tarp’s arrived and it’s too small. It doesn’t cover the entire roof or patio you’re trying to protect. It’s too short to completely seal a door or wall opening and allows cold air or construction dust to get through. You’re not alone. Others have experienced the same frustration. It all comes down to two terms: cut size and finish size.

When you order a tarp, you need to double-check with the company if the tarp is cut size or finish size. It does make a difference. You could order a cut-size tarp in a 20 by 20′ square only to find it’s smaller when you get it. That’s not only frustrating, but it can leave you with a useless tarp that won’t fit the area needed for your intended use. Some companies don’t allow returns either. It leaves you with a tarp you cannot use or send back for a refund. Chicago Canvas & Supply is here to help you get the right size and material every time.

Understanding Cut Size

Before placing your order, make sure you know if the tarp is cut size or finish size. If you can’t find it, use the retailer’s online chat system or call to verify. The reason why this is essential is that cut size is the size of a tarp before the company adds any hems and/or seams.

Generally, hems and seams take up an extra 3 inches. If you’ve ordered a cut-size tarp that measures 10 by 10′, by the time the hem is added, you’ve lost a half-foot from the top and bottom and another half-foot from the left and right sides. That 10 by 10′ tarp now measures 9.5 by 9.5′.

If you need an oversized tarp, the company may need to sew two tarps together to get the right width. That seam is going to use up a few inches. Putting together two cut-size tarps of 30 by 30′ each wouldn’t give you a full 60′ tarp. It’s going to be short a few inches. You’d need to order extra to get to your goal.

How the Finish Size Differs

If a tarp states it is finish size, the hems and any seams have already been added. Nothing is going to be folded over and sewn. You’re not going to lose inches to the finishing work and addition of grommets. If you order a finish-size tarp that stays it is 10 by 10′, you get the full 10 by 10′ tarp.

Finish-size tarps are often the tarps you find in home improvement stores and discount retailers. They may not be the weight you need. They also may only be water-resistant instead of waterproof, and that’s another consideration to keep in mind.

Make Sure You Measure Correctly

Cut size and finish size are an important concern when you buy a tarp. There’s another thing you need to consider. Many projects require a tarp that’s a little larger than the area you’re covering. For instance, your roof is leaking. You need a tarp that will cover the area that’s leaking. You also want a little extra to keep water from seeping in on the edges.

If you’re using a tarp to act as a sunshade over a sandbox, you want enough to expand beyond the play area. That way, your children are still protected as the sun shifts. Covering a woodpile works best if you factor in a few inches for overhang. Adding a few extra inches protects or shades the full area and doesn’t leave you with gaps or shortages.

Chicago Canvas & Supply’s tarp listings are cut size. That will help you buy a tarp that doesn’t leave you frustrated. If you purchase a tarp from us, add half a foot to the measurements you need. For example, if you need a 10 by 10′ tarp, order 10.5 by 10.5′. If you do have questions, our experts are available via online chat, by phone (1-866-389-2218), or by clicking “Get a Quote.”

Our custom quotes are free. Let us know why you need the tarp and your dimensions. Be sure to specify if your measurement is the finish size or if you used cut size measurements. We’ll return our quote within one business day. We’re happy to answer your questions, go over the tarp materials that match your needs, and help you purchase an affordable tarp that is designed to last for years.