What is Tarpaulin? What is It Used For?

What is Tarpaulin? What is It Used For?

You can read all about tarpaulin fabric in this blog, including information on how it is used.

Originally created from cotton canvas that had been tarred, tarpaulin, or tarp, is a robust, waterproof fabric that was used by sailors. Tarps are frequently made of plastics today, like polyethylene. A classic use of a tarpaulin is in camping. Additionally, tarpaulins are used to construct makeshift tents and shelters as well as covered cooking areas.

Since tarpaulin is a very adaptable material, we’ve listed some of its most popular applications in this blog.

What is Tarpaulin?

A tarpaulin, also known as a tarp, is a sizable sheet of rigid, flexible, waterproof material. It is typically made of fabric or polyester that has been wrapped in polyurethane, or it may be made of plastics that resemble polyethylene. A broad sheet of sturdy, stretchable, waterproof material, typically made of plastics similar to polyethylene or fabric such as polyester or fabric wrapped in polyurethane.

Grommets on tarpaulins frequently become more tightly compressed at the corners and sides, creating adhesive points that enable them to be tied or suspended. There are many ways to use sails for wind, rain, and sun protection for people and things.

They are used to protect damaged or newly built structures, prevent contamination during activities like painting, and contain and collect waste during construction or after disasters.

Types of Tarpaulins

  • Poly tarpaulins are lightweight, moisture-resistant, and relatively inexpensive. Polyethylene (PE), polypropylene, or another polyolefin plastic is used to create the cross-woven strands that make up these materials. Products with more cross-weaves per square inch provide greater strength and durability.
  • Canvas tarpaulins are made of closely-woven hemp, flax, or cotton cloth. Although they are heavier than polyethylene products, they are more durable and offer better wind resistance.
  • Vinyl tarpaulins are made of vinyl-coated polyester and are often coated with flame-retardant polyvinyl chloride (They are a more robust type of tarp than polyethylene and are used in situations where more dependable security is required. They typically exhibit high levels of abrasion resistance, waterproofness, and corrosion resistance as well as resistance to contamination by oil, acid, grease, and mildew.
  • Mesh tarpaulins are generally made with polyethylene, vinyl, or canvas material threaded and woven to a screen-like pattern. These tarps are appropriate for use as enclosures, site barriers, awnings, golf green covers, and construction sites because they permit some passage of wind and light.

How is Tarpaulin Made?

A high-density laminate tarpaulin is produced by laminating multiple plastic layers together. For poly tarpaulins, HDPE fabric or mesh is laminated with LDPE, LLDPE plastic films, or a blend of the two.

It could be a three-layer tarpaulin having one layer of woven fabric and two layers of LDPE/LLDPE coating, one each on either side. There are also five-layer tarpaulins that have two layers of woven fabric or mesh in between three layers of LDPE/LLDPE plastic films.

What is Tarpaulin Used For?

What is Tarpaulin? What is It Used For?

In construction, the tarps serve a variety of functions. Mainly it’s used to protect equipment such as excavators and bulldozers from dust or dirt getting into their engines or undercarriages.

For example, if you’re working on a site where there’s loose dust on the ground, tarps will help minimize the amount of dust that can get into your machine’s engine and affect its operation.

Related: Can You Use a Tarpaulin under Gravel?

Tarpaulins have also been used by soldiers during wartime. Heavy-duty sheets of polyethylene or polyvinyl chloride typically make up tarps. It is often used to cover things like cargo containers, boats, and other surfaces to protect them from the elements.

The tarpaulin can be used for a lot of things. One of the most common use cases for this material is to cover cargo containers for shipping purposes. Tarpaulins are also commonly used by military forces as groundsheets or shelters. They are also widely used by construction companies as temporary roofs over worksites.

Tarpaulins can be used to cover a variety of items, including woodpiles, farm machinery, and other items around the house. In an emergency, tarps can be used to cover broken windows and leaky roofs to keep water from entering while the problem is being fixed. Other uses for tarpaulins include serving as drapes for painting projects and lining the beds of vehicles to transport messy items like plants.

Tarps are a type of robust, water- and dust-resistant material used for a variety of applications.

How to Choose a Polyethylene Tarp?

What is Tarpaulin? What is It Used For?

The tarp’s grade—light, medium, or heavy—should be taken into consideration in addition to the color and size that you choose. Technical specifications of the tarp may include:

  • Water resistance is important for tarpaulins which must provide protection from rain and moisture. Different types of tarps offer varying degrees of protection, ranging from little resistance to completely waterproof.
  • Strength is a tarpaulin’s ability to hold together when subject to forces. The composition of a tarp and its weaving pattern affect its strength. Strength includes wind resistance, or a tarp’s ability to resist tearing or breakage from high winds.
  • Corrosion resistance determines how well a tarpaulin resists corrosion from foreign substances like oils, acids, greases, and mildew, as well as UV light. Tarps can be coated with special materials to provide resistance to various forms of degradation.
  • Abrasion resistance is a tarpaulin’s resistance to tearing and splitting due to points and sharp edges. Canvas and vinyl tend to be more abrasive resistant than polyethylene materials.
  • Features include grommets, rope construction, special coatings, and accessories. Tarpaulins with grommets, which are plastic or metal eyelets, help hold down tie-downs more firmly. To add strength and better tear resistance, ropes are frequently sewn and sealed to tarpaulin borders. The materials used in coatings, which offer various forms of protection, include corrosion- and flame-resistant ones. Some suppliers provide accessories along with the tarp including replacement grommets, anti-mildew treatments, tarp tie-downs, and ropes.

It’s important to know the required area and size when buying a tarp in order to get the right amount of coverage.

Conclusion: Tarpaulin Fabric

Tarpaulin is a highly versatile fabric, and some common uses include:

  1. to cover outdoor machinery and vehicles in order to shield them from elements like rain, snow, dust, etc.
  2. As a groundsheet or rainproof cover when camping
  3. In scaffolding to protect work areas from weather damage
  4. To store lumber or a protective liner for rail cars and trucks
  5. As a picnic mat or sheet for hauling yard debris such as leaves or trimmings
  6. In emergency situations such as to cover a broken window or damaged roof
  7. As a makeshift shelter for disaster relief

If properly cared for, the majority of tarpaulins are made to last for a very long time. They will begin to degrade, though, if they are left on the ground or in the sun for an extended period of time.


What is the Difference Between Canvas and Tarpaulin?

The most obvious difference between canvas and vinyl tarps is the look and feel of each material. Canvas is known as a more rugged and natural material, so it has a coarse texture and matte appearance. Vinyl, however, has a shine to it due to its surface being slightly glossy.

What Kind of Material is Tarpaulin?

Traditional tarps are often made of polyester, canvas, nylon, polyethylene, and polypropylene. In comparison to other types of material like canvas, tarps made primarily of polyethylene are stronger, more waterproof, and more durable.

Is Tarpaulin Fully Waterproof?

Usually, only heavy-duty PVC (vinyl) tarps are actually waterproof, though there are some exceptions to this rule on the market. Nylon and polyethylene multipurpose tarps, for example, have a lower water resistance than poly tarps but can still be used in wet conditions.

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