Top Canvas Tarps for Transportation and Cargo Protection

Water damage is a leading cause of cargo loss during transportation. This water damage can be from rain and snow, but it can also happen with humidity, condensation within a container, and seawater spray. Contamination damage from wildfire ashes and other pollutants is also possible. A tarp is the best way to protect your items.

You run a trucking company and have flatbeds where the items need to be protected from rain and snow. Maybe, you work in agriculture and need to keep crops, hay, and wood shavings dry. No matter your reason, canvas tarps are essential. What are the best tarps for transportation and cargo protection? It depends on your cargo and needs.

Differences Between Fire Retardant Treated, Treated, and Untreated Canvas Tarps

One of the first things to know is that tarps are not interchangeable. Most tarp stores have three types of canvas tarps: Fire Retardant Treated, Treated, and Untreated.

Untreated Canvas Tarps

An untreated canvas tarp offers no protection from moisture. They’re best used as dust covers and protection when painting inside a building. They’re not designed for cargo. There are a limited number of situations where you might want to use an untreated canvas tarp. If you’re transporting furniture inside an enclosed trailer and want to protect the surface from dust and condensation, an untreated canvas tarp can help and won’t stain the furniture’s finish, but any exposure to water can be devastating.

Treated Canvas Tarps

Treated canvas tarps resist water because they have a coating that’s a mix of oil and wax to help keep water from soaking through. They’re breathable, so air flows through them and keeps condensation from forming below the tarp and damaging your cargo.

However, that wax and oil coating can stain items stored below them. While that might not matter to you if you’re transporting something like bags of wood pellets or crushed stone, it could damage the finish on cars, furniture, or power sports equipment. 

Canvas Tarps With Fire Retardants

Canvas tarps that are good for cargo come in a variety of weights and can be treated or coated with a fire-retardant substance. When they are, they’re no longer suitable for covering items like cars as they can stain. You need to come up with a different material if you are transporting classic cars on a flatbed and want them protected from inclement weather.

When a canvas tarp is treated with a fire-retardant chemical, it is less likely to burn. It may come into contact with sparks from a fire or metal friction, but it’s going to smolder rather than catch and add fuel to the fire.

Think of it as the difference between holding a match to a handful of wet straw vs. dry straw. The wet straw (fire retardant is the water) will smoke but not catch quickly while the dry straw (untreated) bursts into flames.

What Do the Different Weights Mean?

When you’re shopping for canvas tarps for cargo and transportation, you’ll notice some are 16-ounce tarps and others are 18-ounce. Untreated are even lighter at 10 ounces. What does this mean?

All canvas tarps are made from 100% cotton, but they can have tighter or looser weaves. Adding protective coatings like fire retardants adds to the thickness and weight. These are all things to consider. 

Some companies measure a tarps thickness in a measurement known as mils (thousandths of an inch), and others will put the weight. This weight is the number of ounces that one square yard weighs. The higher the number, the heavier the tarp. A heavy-duty canvas tarp is going to weigh 18 ounces per square yard.

If you’re covering materials that are moving from a warehouse into an enclosed trailer, you might not require a heavy-duty tarp. A 16-ounce canvas tarp is good.

But, if you’re loading boxed appliances onto a flatbed trainer, you’d want to protect them from water. Using a heavy-duty treated canvas tarp is best. An 18-ounce tarp will resist wind better and avoid tearing loose during transportation.

  • 10-ounce canvas tarps – Untreated tarp that’s used for indoor use only and is best used to protect furnishings when painting or renovating, though this tarp can be helpful in some transportation projects, too.
  • 16-ounce canvas tarps – Medium-weight tarp that is good for many cargo and transportation needs.
  • 18-ounce canvas tarps – Heavy-duty and can take a lot of abuse during travel and resist rips and tears from the force of wind gusts.

Purchase 10-ounce untreated canvas in 20 sizes and more than 30 colors. Premade drop cloths are available in sizes ranging from 5 x 7 feet to 40 x 40 feet. They have brass grommets every 24 inches.

The 16-ounce treated canvas tarps come in 6 colors and 33 sizes. You can also get bulk prices on the 16-ounce canvas tarps if you need multiples or ask about custom sizing if the 33 sizes aren’t enough. 

Fire retardant canvas tarps come in 16-ounce weights and 32 sizes. You can only get fire retardant canvas in olive drab.

The 18-ounce treated canvas tarps can be purchased in bulk packs of up to 12 olive drab tarps. If you don’t need them in bulk, they come in 32 sizes and olive drab. Custom orders are available if needed.

Options That Might Also Work

What if your cargo cannot be exposed to materials that could stain, such as a treated canvas tarp? This is where an Iron Horse tarp is a great choice. 

Iron Horse tarps are a mix of canvas and polyester that is treated in silicone to make them completely waterproof, yet the material still breathes. They resist rips, tears, and mildew. Even better, the polyester component makes the tarp material twice as strong as a canvas tarp.

People use Iron Horse tarps for awnings and canopies, but they’ve also become a popular choice for covering cargo like furniture, boats, and vehicles. Their durability and lack of odor are appealing when moving sofas and other materials where plastic or chemical odors can soak into the fabric.

If you’re transporting any cargo that needs to be kept dry without being exposed to chemicals, oil, or wax, an Iron Horse tarp is ideal. It comes in 7 colors and 11 sizes, plus custom sizes if the pre-measured tarps are not the right fit for your needs.

Chicago Canvas Helps You Choose the Best Cargo and Transportation Tarp

Talk to the experts at Chicago Canvas about your tarp needs. Our tarp professionals can help you better understand your options for canvas tarps, any other possibilities that will work for your cargo and transportation needs, and any discounts for bulk orders.

If you need a custom canvas tarp, we’ll give you a free quote. Reach our team today, let us know what you’re planning to transport or store, and we’ll help you make a wise choice that protects your valuable items without exceeding your tarp budget.