Tips on Choosing a Tarp For Your Truck Bed

According to Consumer Reports, a rigid truck cover, such as a Tonneau cover, ranges in price from a couple hundred dollars for a basic model to well over $1,500 for one that is electric. That’s before installation costs are even added. Sure, they keep items in your truck bed dry and secure, but does the cost add up in terms of resale value? Can you afford the higher cost? And if you have a larger truck like a dump truck or semi, a Tonneau cover isn’t even an option.

A durable, waterproof tarp is a fraction of that estimated price. You also gain some perks that make them more appealing. You get to match the tarp’s material with your environment and needs. If snow and ice are worries, a heavy tarp will not rip under the weight of snow. With different materials and densities, you’ll have the ideal cover.

Benefits to Tarp Truck Bed Covers

Rigid covers have to be installed. You might be able to do it yourself, but some kits are best left to the professionals. Kits may use clamps that could scratch the paint if you’re not careful. Others use adhesive strips and bolts. Removing the cover at a later date may be impossible.

A truck bed tarp is incredibly easy to install. With a tarp and some bungee cords, you’ll have a customized truck bed cover at a huge savings in just a few minutes. When you want to remove it, remove the bungee cords, fold the tarp, and you’re done. There are a few tips to use when choosing the best tarp for your truck bed.

Custom Size Tarps Ensure You Get the Perfect Fit

Tarps come pre-measured or cut to your specifications.  A pre-measured tarp is the finish size. A custom tarp starts with a cut size and then adds extra inches for the finishing work like hems.

Finding an exact match with tarps that are pre-measured is often tricky. You may have to go a size too large and secure the excess before driving away. For this reason, people find custom size tarps for truck beds are ideal. Chicago Canvas & Supply offers free quotes.

When a tarp is made, the material is measured and cut. This is the cut size. Hems are then sewn on each side and grommets are added.  The hemmed edges deduct six to nine inches from the cut size.

A finish size tarp is measured after all of the hem work is completed. It’s the final size of the tarp. And, it’s important to note which measurements you’re using when you’re asking for a custom truck bed tarp.

Take Careful Measurements

To get a precise measurement, take a tape measure and get measurements from the window to the outer edge of the tailgate. Allow a few extra inches on each side to avoid any gaps that would let water into the truck bed. Repeat this going from one side of the bed to the other again measuring from the outer edge.

Once you’ve taken the measurements, do yourself a favor and remeasure it. The popular saying “measure twice, cut once” is important here. You don’t want to make a mistake and end up with a tarp that’s too short or too narrow.

Add Inches for the Overlap and Hem Work

Once you have the truck bed size and the overlap, you can send them for a custom quote. Just make sure you specify those measurements are finish size and not cut size. If you’d rather come up with the cut size, you’re going to take your measurements and add extra inches for the hem.

Consider the Pros and Cons of the Different Materials

Tarps are crafted from many materials, but some materials just do not make great bed covers. You do not want lightweight tarps. You need materials that withstand wind, weather, and stains. These are the materials used to make tarps:

  • Canvas (Treated or Untreated)
  • Clear PVS
  • Iron Horse Polyester
  • Mesh
  • Poly
  • Vinyl

Two of them are good for making tarp truck bed covers. Take a closer look at Iron Horse polyester and vinyl.

Iron Horse Polyester Tarps

These are thick polyester tarps that are twice as strong as a cotton canvas. Key benefits are that the breathable material is waterproof and won’t stain. It also lacks the plastic or chemical odor that some tarps have. If you choose Iron Horse fabric for your truck bed tarp, you have a choice of seven colors. This should be your first choice for a truck bed.

Vinyl Tarps

There are three types of vinyl tarps: vinyl coated, vinyl laminate, and vinyl temper. Vinyl laminate really can’t withstand the wind and weather conditions a truck bed tarp needs to protect against.

That narrows the best options to vinyl coated tarps, which are UV treated to help prevent damage from the sun making them handy when you’re moving furniture. Vinyl temper is commonly used for tents. It resists ripping and tearing and is waterproof.

Visit Chicago Canvas & Supply for a custom quote. They’re free and returned within one business day. You can also order samples of tarp materials if you can’t make up your mind. Visit the website now and find an affordable tarp truck bed cover.

3 thoughts on “Tips on Choosing a Tarp For Your Truck Bed

  1. That’s a good idea to get a custom made tarp for your truck. I would want to make sure that it’s the perfect fit so that it could keep out water and dirt from the bed of my truck. I’ll have to take a look into a custom tarp for my truck.

  2. Steele Honda says:

    Thanks for pointing out that a truck bed tarp is incredibly easy to install. My husband is thinking about getting a truck bed tarp because he thinks it would help make transporting things easier and safer. I think that it’s nice that it would be easier to install because that would mean he wouldn’t have to leave it on all the time and could remove it easily if he needed too.

  3. Good to know that if I need a truck bed cover, I should take a closer look at Iron Horse polyester and vinyl. I’ve got a pick-up truck that I want to use for a lot of work projects. I’m looking at decking it out with accessories to make it as utilitarian as possible.

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