How Long Do Different Types of Tarps Last?

A tarp’s lifespan should be a main consideration when choosing the right tarp for your needs. You could be spending hundreds of dollars. For that kind of money, you want years of use. Here’s a general guide that can help answer “how long do canvas tarps last.”

Tarp Materials and Uses

Different tarps have different intended uses and thicknesses. At Chicago Canvas & Supply, we sell provide several types of tarps.

Canvas Tarps

Canvas tarps can be treated or untreated. Treated cotton canvas is a popular choice for people looking to cover cargo, equipment, and supplies found at construction sites and farms. As the cotton canvas is treated with oil and wax, they can stain a car’s finish,which makes them unsuitable for vehicle covers. The oil and wax treatment helps control mildew growth and repels water.

Untreated tarps do not repel water and should not be used outside when it is wet. The natural cotton fiber is durable and can last years, but if a tear starts, it needs to be mended as quickly as possible.

Clear PVC Tarps

Clear PVC tarps are meant to be used as curtains. The sheer material allows for light to get through and people to see through. The material is waterproof and stands up to wind, which makes it a popular choice when covering a door in the winter or extending the use of a covered deck or patio as it gets colder. The 20 mils thickness does help them last a long time.

Iron Horse Polyester Tarps

Iron Horse Polyester tarps are designed to last. They’re waterproof and stronger than canvas. This doesn’t mean that these tarps are indestructible. They can develop rips if you do not properly care for them. With proper care, you will get several years of use from this tarp.

Mesh Tarps

Mesh tarps come in a variety of materials and are designed to be breathable while blocking some of the sun’s UV rays. Vinyl coated color mesh doesn’t block as much sun at 55 percent. Polyethylene mesh tarps are made from polyethylene mesh and block almost 90 percent of the sun’s rays. Polypropylene mesh offers the most protection from the sun with UV protection reaching 95 percent.

These tarps are designed to allow air through while keeping debris contained. They make great pool covers or covers for trucks carrying lightweight items like wood shavings that would otherwise blow away.

Poly Tarps

Poly tarps can be designed for light use or heavy use. Blue poly tarps are the tarps you often see in discount stores. They’re only 4 mils thick and don’t tend to last long if used or maintained incorrectly. Heavy-duty poly tarps are designed to last longer.

Vinyl Tarps

Vinyl tarps are poly tarps that have been coated, laminated, or tempered with vinyl. As they’re designed for industrial use, they are strong and resist tearing. Expect these tarps to last several years in severe conditions like heat, heavy rain or snow, or cold temperatures.

Proper Care and Maintenance Helps Them Last

Do you want to keep your canvas tarp in great condition for as long as possible? Proper care and maintenance are important for a long lifespan. There are three key steps to making your tarp last.

Stick to the Intended Use

Let’s say you want to cover your swimming pool with a tarp. You should never use a canvas tarp. The wax or oil on a treated canvas tarp would get into the pool water. An untreated canvas tarp would develop mildew.

Make sure you’re using the tarp correctly. If you need a furniture cover while you paint, untreated canvas tarps are ideal. If you want a tarp to put down on the lawn before getting a delivery of mulch, a blue poly tarp is perfect.

Fix Damage Immediately

As soon as you notice damage, take time to fix it. Before you store your tarp, look for loose or missing grommets and small rips or tears. If you have to make repairs, we recommend the following products:

Grommet Repair: Replace damaged grommets with the Set-It-Yourself Grommet Kit

Mildew and Water Protection: Add extra protection from mildew and water damage on a canvas tarp by coating it with Canvak

Rips and Tears: HH-66 Vinyl Cement for poly or vinyl tarps or Tear Mender for canvas tarps

Store It Properly

When the tarp is not in use, make sure you have cleaned it off and hung it in the sun to dry completely. You do not want to fold the tarp while it is still damp or dirty.

Fold the tarp with the help of another person. Fold in half and then repeat until the tarp is compact enough to be placed in a plastic tub that has a tight-fitting lid. Why store it in a plastic tub? If you store the tarp in a shed or garage, there is the risk of mice chewing holes in the tarp.

A Smart Purchase Will Last Years

The bottom line is that material, care, and use all impact how long tarps last. Make sure you match the material to the intended use. Keep it in good condition.

Each of the tarps we offer has an option allowing you to see the intended use. Refer to this as a guide on which material to pick. If you have any questions, contact Chicago Canvas & Supply’s live chat help desk for immediate help!

2 thoughts on “How Long Do Different Types of Tarps Last?

  1. Wow! This is so chock full of useful information, can’t wait to dig deep and start utilizing the resources you have given me. Keep posting!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *