There are two good reasons for making your tarp last. First, it helps you save money. If you’re not buying new tarps multiple times per year, you save money. Second, tarps are not recyclable. When your tarp’s lifespan is used up, you have to toss the tarp in the trash. Very few areas have programs that give life to an old tarp.
Tarps are only recyclable if they’re made from a plastic material that is recyclable and are stamped with that plastic’s number. As a result, tarps head to the trash when they reach the end of their lifespan. Long-lasting tarps keep material out of the landfill. The more life you get out of your tarp, the better it is for your wallet and the planet. To maximize your tarp’s life, use these tips.
Pick the Best Material
Tarps you see at discount stores are often crafted from lightweight polyester. They’re inexpensive because they’re not designed to last long. Spending more money on an industrial tarp made of heavy-duty materials leads to a longer life. It may be more expensive to start, but you’ll be purchasing one tarp to last you years instead of several inexpensive tarps that only last a few months. These are the best uses for the different tarp fabrics.
Canvas (Treated and Untreated) – Canvas tarps are made of cotton. Untreated tarps are best for room dividers, covers, and painting projects. Treated canvas tarps are water resistant and sometimes fire retardant. They are covered in a wax and oil coating, so they are not ideal for covering items that cannot be stained.
Clear PVC – The see-through nature of clear PVC tarps makes them ideal for construction sites where natural lighting is important. They’re ideal for creating a wall to keep out the weather on a front porch, deck, or entryway.
Iron Horse Polyester – This type of tarp is waterproof and much stronger than cotton canvas. It doesn’t have coatings that stain items, which makes it ideal for covering stored cars and trucks. It’s also good for covering decks and patios.
Mesh – Polyethylene, polypropylene, and vinyl-coated mesh tarps offer a wide range of uses. Each one involves allowing air to flow through the material. They block out UV rays, which makes them ideal for sunshades and privacy screens.
Poly – Poly tarps are water resistant and protect from UV rays. They’re all-purpose tarps that are typically used for jobs like covering a wood pile to keep the wood dry or covering a leaking roof until repairs can be made.
Vinyl – Finally, vinyl tarps are waterproof and resist rips and tears. There are vinyl-coated polyester tarps that are best for covering items like power equipment and furniture or creating awnings. The other option is a vinyl-laminated polyester tarp that’s flame retardant and often used for room dividers or welding curtains.
Store It Only When It’s Clean and Fully Dry
After every use, you should clean your tarp and hang it in the sun to dry out. Do not fold it up for storage until it is fully dry. If you don’t, you may encourage mildew and mold to grow. It can also cause degradation that shortens the life of the tarp.
When it’s time to store the tarp, consider putting it in a plastic tub that has a lid. Place it in a dry spot in a garage or storage area. By placing it in a tub, you eliminate the risk of mice chewing on the tarp and leaving holes.
Repair Damage ASAP
If there is damage to the tarp, repair it as quickly as possible. A coat of Canvak on a multi-purpose tarp boosts water resistance and mildew prevention. Vinyl cement and patches of a matching material repair rips and small holes. Torn grommets can be repaired using a grommet repair kit.
Purchase the Right Tarp for the Job
Make sure you pick the right tarp. A tarp’s longevity is influenced by the conditions. If you purchase a mesh tarp and plan to use it as a pool cover during the winter, it’s likely to rip before spring as it’s meant for light-duty use.
Imagine you own a restaurant that has a heated-outdoor tent for your customers. You run heaters on chilly nights. You wouldn’t want a tarp that wasn’t fire resistant. It would be unsafe, and the heat could ruin the tarp you’ve chosen. Instead, a flame retardant vinyl laminated poly tarp used to create a dining tent is the smart choice.
Don’t forget to consider the weather conditions. If you live in a region where winter temperatures frequently dip well below freezing, a laminated vinyl tarp may crack in the bitter cold. Look for materials like vinyl-coated polyester that withstand the cold. Higher elevations or valleys, where wind gusts are common, may require a heavy-duty tarp to avoid damage from the wind.
Don’t Guess and Waste Your Money. Ask a Professional
If you don’t know the best weight or material to purchase, don’t try to guess and wind up with the wrong tarp. Ask a tarp expert. Chicago Canvas & Supply specializes in tarps and tarp accessories. We even offer free fabric samples if you’re still uncertain. Do you need a custom size or help to pick the right tarp for your specific needs? Experts are ready to help. Request a free tarp quote or call for more information.