Some projects and uses require more than a standard tarp. The wrong type of tarp can lead to costly damages or require replacement sooner than you expect. Don’t waste money buying the wrong kind of tarp. When you need an extra thick or heavy-duty tarp, you’ll find plenty of options are available if you understand what to look for.
Tarp Materials Impact Strength and Durability
Different tarps are made from different materials. A 16-ounce canvas tarp is not as durable as an 18-ounce canvas tarp. A vinyl-coated tarp weighs 18 ounces per square yard, but it’s very thick at 20 mils. Plus, a vinyl tarp is waterproof, while a canvas tarp is only water-resistant.
An Iron Horse tarp isn’t as heavy as a vinyl tarp, but it’s twice as strong as a canvas tarp. It also allows air to pass, which reduces the risk of condensation forming on items stored below the tarp. It’s also waterproof.
This leaves heavy-duty poly tarps. The name heavy-duty doesn’t always mean it’s the best tarp for your needs. At 6 ounces per square foot, the tarp is 12 mils thick. It’s also water-resistant and not waterproof.
You can’t always base the decision on an extra thick/heavy-duty tarp on the name. If you need a tarp that is both extra thick and heavy-duty, vinyl or Iron Horse tarps are your best option. Take a closer look at tarps.
#1 – Canvas
A canvas tarp is water-resistant, so you can’t use it in heavy rain for long periods. It will eventually allow water to seep through. Buy it in cut sizes ranging from 5′ x 7′ to 30′ x 30′. It does have its benefits, however.
- Custom sizes are available
- Breathable material prevents condensation
- 100% cotton
- Resists mildew
#2 – Iron Horse
An Iron Horse polyester tarp comes in six colors. Sizes range from 5′ x 7′ to 20′ x 20′. Double-thick hems have evenly spaced grommets. If you hate the way tarps smell, you’ll love the Iron Horse tarp as it lacks a chemical odor. Here are the other benefits of this tarp.
Twice as strong as a water-resistant canvas tarp
The dry finish is waterproof
- Breathable silicone-treated fabric
- Available in custom sizes
- Can also purchase by the yard (5-yard minimum) in 60-inch widths
#3 – Silver Heavy-Duty UVR Poly Tarps
This is a lightweight tarp at 6 ounces per square yard, but it’s 12 mils thick. It’s UV protected to prevent damage from extended sun exposure. Buy it in sizes up to 30′ x 50′. Other benefits of this tarp are:
- Roped hems with grommets spaced every 1.5 feet
- Resists mildew
- Double laminated coating
#4 – Vinyl-Coated Polyester
The 18-ounce vinyl-coated polyester tarps come in nine colors. They’re also available in sizes ranging from 5′ x 7′ to 10′ x 20′. If you need a custom size, it’s an option. Benefits to these tarps include:
- Resist mildew
- UV-treated to prevent damage from the sun
- Heat-sealed seams with evenly-spaced grommets
- Resists damage from abrasion
Match the Tarp to Your Intended Use
Those are the different types of tarps you’ll find in stores and online, but your final decision needs to come down to the reason you need the tarp. Intended use is a critical factor in choosing the best tarp for your needs.
Do you need a waterproof tarp, or is water resistance enough? Do not choose a water-resistant tarp if you must keep the items below the tarp dry during heavy rain. It would help if you had a waterproof tarp like Iron Horse or vinyl. If condensation occurs over time, would it damage the items below? If so, you need a tarp that allows air to flow.
You should look for the right tarp for your project or needs. Here are some of the best uses for the heavy-duty or extra-thick tarps at Chicago Canvas.
- Camping/campsite covers
- Construction sites
- Covers for cargo, farm, garden, and sports equipment
- Truck covers
Heavy-Duty UVR Poly Tarps:
- Covering farm equipment, machines, and sporting goods
- Ground sheets
- Privacy walls and fencing
- Roof cover
- Surface protection during contracting and painting projects
- Water-resistant table covers
- Awnings and canopies
- Boat, truck, and vehicle covers
- Outdoor furniture covers
- Shade structures
- Awnings and canopies
- Backyard Slip & Slides
- Construction site non-slip floor protection
- Covers for crops/hay, farm equipment, and industrial equipment
- Protection for furniture and floors during home improvements and renovations
- Vehicle covers
- Work-site dividers
Keep It Clean to Extend Its Life
When you clean and thoroughly dry your tarp after using it, it will last longer. Dirt and moisture can cause the material to deteriorate faster. If you fold it up and store it on a shelf in a garage, there’s also the chance that mice will get to it and chew through the tarp. It’s best to put the tarp in a plastic crate that has a lid to prevent that type of damage.
To clean a tarp, lay it flat on a patio or paved driveway. If you don’t have either, a flat area of lawn that is free of rocks and branches is suitable. Use a scrub brush to remove any caked-on dirt, grass, or leaves. If there is grease or oil, a dish detergent like Dawn is helpful. Use the sprayer on a hose to rinse it clean. Repeat the process with the other side. When you hang the tarp to dry, rinse both sides one more time.
Ideally, hang the tarp in a sunny area. A laundry line, deck rail, or rope between two posts or trees is suitable for line drying. When the tarp is completely dry on both sides, fold it into halves repeatedly until it’s in a compact square.
Be Sure You Have the Correct Tarp Measurements
Finally, make sure you purchase the correct size. Imagine the disappointment if you get a tarp that’s a few inches too small. If your intended use is to protect items below the tarp from water damage, an undersized tarp may allow water in. You’ve spent the money on the tarp only to find it doesn’t adequately protect your items.
To ensure you get the right size, find out if the tarps are cut size or finish size. This makes a big difference. A finish-size tarp is measured after the seams, hems, and grommets are added. Its dimensions are exactly what you expect when you order it. A cut-size tarp is measured before the finishing work. Seams and hems will remove as much as three inches per side.
Suppose heavy winds tear off some of your shingles. They’re not just in one convenient spot; they’re scattered across your front and back roof. Roofing experts can’t come to do the repairs for a few weeks, so you’re told to cover the roof with a tarp to prevent additional damage from leaks. Your roof is 30′ x 40′, so you order a heavy-duty, waterproof tarp that matches those dimensions. When it arrives, you find it’s 29.5′ x 39.5′. It leaves a few inches of your roof exposed.
If you find out a tarp is cut size, add at least six inches to the length and width. You may want to increase the measurements by an entire foot to ensure there will be plenty of coverage. If it is your roof that you’re covering, it never hurts to have the extra coverage along the edges.
Chicago Canvas & Supply has a full line of tarps of varying weights and thicknesses. Whether you need a heavy-duty tarp to cover your pool for the winter or want an extra thick waterproof tarp to protect your roof following storm damage, we can help. Talk to our tarp experts about your needs, and we’ll help you get a custom tarp solution that exceeds your expectations. Please fill out our online quote form to get an estimate on an extra thick, heavy-duty tarp.