Have you ever wondered “What is the difference between water-resistant and waterproof tarp material?” This is a very common question, and it’s worth exploring closely. If you choose the wrong one, it may not be as useful as you’d hope.
Waterproof tarps offer complete protection from water or moisture. You can submerge them in a body of water and nothing changes. They will not absorb any moisture. Water-resistant tarps can only repel water for a limited amount of time. In a torrential downpour, the material will get wet and water will start to leak through the tarp. That’s the basic difference between the two.
Look at the difference between a pair of rubber boots and water-resistant leather work boots. Water is not going to get into the rubber boots unless you puncture them. Leather work boots that are treated with a water-resist spray will keep water out for a while. With continuous exposure to water, the leather will start to become saturated and water gets through. You also need to consider how your feet feel in that waterproof rubber boot. It will get sweaty as air doesn’t pass. Leather boots do breathe a little more, so feet don’t sweat quite as much. Tarps work the same way.
You’ll find that water-resistant tarps offer something that a waterproof cannot and vice versa. Knowing the intended usage, how to care for the tarps, and available tarp options is important when you’re deciding which type of tarp is best for you.
Your Best Options for Waterproof Tarps
Why choose waterproof tarps? The waterproof nature makes them appealing. Whatever is stored under the tarp is going to stay dry unless the tarp is damaged. In addition to being waterproof, they resist rips, tears, and abrasion. An added benefit is that many have UV protection. Excessive exposure to the sun will affect a tarp. With UV protection, the life of the tarp is extended. Water will not get through a waterproof vinyl tarp, which makes them ideal for:
- Boat and car covers
- Construction and industrial sites
- Field covers
- High-strength trucking usage
- Roofing covers
In addition, these tarps also resist acid, dirt, grease/oil, and mildew. To clean them of grime, wipe the material, rinse it, and let it dry thoroughly before folding it. Waterproof tarps come in a variety of color options, which will matter if you’re looking to create an awning or canopy that matches your home or business’s exterior colors. Here’s a look at some of the waterproof tarps offered at Chicago Canvas.
#1 – Clear PVC Tarps
When you want the light to come through your waterproof tarp, a clear PVC tarp is ideal. They are perfect for covering window or door openings before windows and doors are installed. They make great temporary walls for covered decks/porches and on construction sites. They protect from rain and also block winds, so you’ll get more use from your deck, patio, gazebo, or porch during summer storms.
#2 – Iron Horse Polyester
Iron Horse tarps are tough. They’re twice as strong as cotton canvas tarps. Iron Horse tarps are waterproof and weigh 15 ounces per square yard, which makes them a top choice for awnings, boat covers, canopies, outdoor furniture covers, and shade tents. Choose from 7 colors.
#3 – Vinyl Laminated Polyester
Vinyl laminated waterproof tarps are 14 mils thick and weigh 13 ounces per square yard. If you want a waterproof tarp for a construction site, school gymnasium, theater, or warehouse, this one is flame retardant, which increases safety. They’re a popular choice for room dividers, salvage covers, and welding curtains. There are 9 color options available.
#4 – Vinyl Coated Polyester
At 20 mils thick and 18 ounces per square yard, a vinyl coated tarp is a heavier choice. It doesn’t have the flame retardant properties of a laminated tarp, however. You’ll find this is a great tarp for covering crops and hay, creating awnings or canopies, and putting in non-slip floor covers during construction or renovation projects. If you need covers on your farm or freight trucks, pick the vinyl-coated polyester tarp. There are 16 color options available.
That covers waterproof. One thing that most waterproof tarps don’t offer is breathability. If you need a tarp that allows air to pass through, water-resistant materials are the better option.
Your Best Options for Water Resistant Tarps
For water-resistant tarps, you also have plenty of options. They come in a variety of colors and sizes and include materials like canvas and poly. Water-resistant tarps offer a bit more breathability, which can help prevent condensation from building up under the tarp. If that happens, items exposed to the condensation could get wet. Ideally, water-resistant tarps are meant for conditions where there may be exposure to light rain but not regular downpours. What are the best uses for water-resistant tarps?
- Covering firewood and lumber
- Equipment covers
- Light trucking
- Privacy screens
- Protecting supplies and equipment in light rain
When you need to focus on the prevention of condensation under the tarp, water resistance is best. You have three types of water-resistant tarps to consider. Take a closer look at them.
#1 – Canvas Tarps
Canvas tarps are water-resistant due to their oil and wax coating. This helps them resist water and mildew growth, but they’re breathable and help avoid condensation. Water runs right off the canvas tarp thanks to this coating, but it can stain items if water pools and soaks through. They are not good for covering boats or vehicles for that reason.
The coating also has an odor, so it’s not good for indoor use. They’re strong but rip and tear more easily than other tarps. If you’re interested in water-resistant canvas tarps, look at them for covering camping supplies, equipment covers, light trucking, and covering firewood.
When choosing a canvas tarp, there are 16-ounce, 16-ounce fire retardant, and 18-ounce weights. The 16-ounce tarps come in 6 colors, while the 18-ounce canvas tarps come in 2 colors. If you want the protection of flame/fire retardant tarps, the 16-ounce fire retardant canvas tarp only comes in olive drab.
#2 – Heavy-Duty UVR Poly Tarps
These all-purpose UVR poly tarps are designed for heavy use but are relatively lightweight at 7 ounces per square yard and 12 mils thick. They come in two reversible colors (black/silver or white/silver) that reflect UV rays. The water-resistant tarp is a good choice for covering firewood, adding privacy screens, or covering machinery.
#3 – Heavy-Duty Poly Tarps
You can also get heavy-duty poly tarps in several colors that are UV treated. The white, brown/green, or green/silver poly tarps are 8 mils thick and weigh 6 ounces per square yard. Grommets on these tarps increase to 18 inches apart instead of 2 feet. These tarps are regularly used as covers for equipment, firewood, and machinery. They’re also good picnic mats and lawn protectors when landscaping materials like mulch or compost are delivered.
Proper Tarp Care
Whether you need a waterproof or water-resistant tarp, proper care is essential. Make sure the tarp is secured on windy days. You don’t want the wind blowing it around into objects where it could rip the tarp or have a grommet or bungee cord hook hit a window and chip or crack it. With the well-spaced grommets on Chicago Canvas tarps, it’s easy to tie down tarps with rope or cord.
When the tarp isn’t being used, make sure it is stored properly. Use a sponge to scrub stuck-on dirt or grime. Rinse it fully with a hose and hang to dry. Once it’s fully dry, fold it and store it in a container that mice cannot get into. A plastic tub with a lid is one of the best ways to keep the tarp away from mice. It’s important to store it when dry or you could end up with mold growth.
A canvas tarp is treated with oil and wax. It’s important that you do not wash it in a washing machine as that could remove the water-resistant coating. If the water-resistant properties diminish on a canvas tarp, canvas refinishing compounds can extend the life of a water-resistant canvas tarp.
Use the tarp for the reason it’s intended. If you’re covering a load of gravel in a dump truck, a lightweight tarp is not going to stand up to the winds that occur during the trip. Look for a heavy-duty tarp instead. If you’re covering firewood and live in an area where there’s a lot of ice and snow, a heavy-duty tarp is going to last longer than a medium-weight tarp.
Chicago Canvas & Supply carries a wide range of waterproof tarps and water-resistant tarps. Choose from a selection of weights/thicknesses, colors, sizes, and textures. Our tarps have triple-thick hems and brass grommets are placed every two feet on all sides. If you have questions on which tarp is best suited for your specific application, reach us via email ([email protected]), call us at 1-866-389-2218, or talk to us via live chat.
large sheet of strong, flexible, water-resistant or waterproof material
For other uses, see Tarp.
A tarpaulin (tar-PAW-lin,) or tarp is a large sheet of strong, flexible, water-resistant or waterproof material, often cloth such as canvas or polyester coated with polyurethane, or made of plastics such as polyethylene. Tarpaulins often have reinforced grommets at the corners and along the sides to form attachment points for rope, allowing them to be tied down or suspended.
Inexpensive modern tarpaulins are made from woven polyethylene; this material is so associated with tarpaulins that it has become colloquially known in some quarters as polytarp.
Tarpaulins are used in many ways to protect persons and things from wind, rain, and sunlight. They are used during construction or after disasters to protect partially built or damaged structures, to prevent mess during painting and similar activities, and to contain and collect debris. They are used to protect the loads of open trucks and wagons, to keep wood piles dry, and for shelters such as tents or other temporary structures.
Tarpaulins are also used for advertisement printing, most notably for billboards. Perforated tarpaulins are typically used for medium to large advertising, or for protection on scaffoldings; the aim of the perforations (from 20% to 70%) is to reduce wind vulnerability.
Polyethylene tarpaulins have also proven to be a popular source when an inexpensive, water-resistant fabric is needed. Many amateur builders of plywoodsailboats turn to polyethylene tarpaulins for making their sails, as it is inexpensive and easily worked. With the proper type of adhesive tape, it is possible to make a serviceable sail for a small boat with no sewing.
Plastic tarps are sometimes used as a building material in communities of indigenous North Americans.Tipis made with tarps are known as tarpees.
Tarpaulins can be classified based on a diversity of factors, such as material type (polyethylene, canvas, vinyl, etc.), thickness, which is generally measured in mils or generalized into categories (such as "regular duty", "heavy duty", "super heavy duty", etc.), and grommet strength (simple vs. reinforced), among others.
Actual tarp sizes are generally about three to five percent smaller in each dimension than nominal size;[clarification needed] for example, a tarp nominally 20 ft × 20 ft (6.1 m × 6.1 m) will actually measure about 19 ft × 19 ft (5.8 m × 5.8 m). Grommets may be aluminum, stainless steel, or other materials. Grommet-to-grommet distances are typically between 18 in (460 mm) and 5 ft (1.5 m). The weave count is often between 8 and 12 per square inch: the greater the count, the greater its strength. Tarps may also be washable or non-washable and waterproof or non-waterproof, and mildewproof vs. non-mildewproof. Tarp flexibility is especially significant under cold conditions.
Type of material
A polyethylene tarpaulin ("polytarp") is not a traditional fabric, but rather, a laminate of woven and sheet material. The center is loosely woven from strips of polyethylene plastic, with sheets of the same material bonded to the surface. This creates a fabric-like material that resists stretching well in all directions and is waterproof. Sheets can be either of low density polyethylene (LDPE) or high density polyethylene (HDPE). When treated against ultraviolet light, these tarpaulins can last for years exposed to the elements, but non-UV treated material will quickly become brittle and lose strength and water resistance if exposed to sunlight.
Canvas tarpaulins are not 100% waterproof, though they are water resistant. Thus, while a small amount of water for a short period of time will not affect them, when there is standing water on canvas tarps, or when water cannot quickly drain away from canvas tarps, the standing water will drip through this type of tarp.
Polyvinyl chloride ("vinyl") tarpaulins are industrial-grade and intended for heavy-duty use. They are constructed of 10 oz/sq yd (340 g/m2) coated yellow vinyl. This makes it waterproof and gives it a high abrasion resistance and tear strength. These resist oil, acid, grease and mildew. The vinyl tarp is ideal for agriculture, construction, industrial, trucks, flood barrier and temporary roof repair.
Main article: silnylon
Tarp tents may be made of silnylon.
U.S. color scheme
For years manufacturers have used a color code to indicate the grade of tarpaulins, but not all manufacturers follow this traditional method of grading. Following this color-coded system, blue indicates a lightweight tarp, and typically has a weave count of 8×8 and a thickness of 0.005–0.006 in (0.13–0.15 mm). Silver is a heavy-duty tarp and typically has a weave count of 14×14 and a thickness of 0.011–0.012 in (0.28–0.30 mm).
Some of the more common colors in that scheme are:
|Blue||light-duty tarp||0.005–0.006 in (0.13–0.15 mm)|
|Yellow or orange||medium-duty tarp||0.007–0.008 in (0.18–0.20 mm)|
|Green||medium-duty tarp||0.009–0.010 in (0.23–0.25 mm)|
|Silver||heavy-duty tarp||0.011–0.012 in (0.28–0.30 mm)|
|Brown||super-heavy-duty tarp||0.016 in (0.41 mm)|
The word tarpaulin originated as a compound of the words tar and palling, referring to a tarred canvas pall used to cover objects on ships. Sailors often tarred their own overclothes in the same manner as the sheets or palls. By association, sailors became known as "jack tars".[better source needed]
In the mid-19th century, paulin was used for such a cloth.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Tarpaulins.|
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- Tarp fabric thickness: 5 MIL
- Woven reinforced polyethylene fabric. UV Resistant.
- Sealed seams and reinforced hems for added durability.
- Soft and lightweight, Easy to fold and carry out. Waterproof, anti-UV, anti-fading.
- It can be used to cover the roof, hay and debris, or as a daily protection for homes such as garden leisure, dog shed construction and so on.
- It can be used to protect plant from early snow accumulation, and it is also an excellent choice for outdoor temporary shelters.
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