How to select the right tarp
A tarp, or tarpaulin in full, is a large sheet used as a protective cover for objects or areas. Whether you need to store your garden equipment or camping, a tarp will protect you from weather conditions like heavy rains, extreme sun exposure, and even strong winds.
Tarps are mostly made from durable, waterproof materials. They are popular with outdoor enthusiasts and beach holidaymakers as they are easily stretched out to protect users against extreme weather. If you’re looking for a tarp and you don’t know where to start, we’re here to help. We’ve created this easy guide to help you choose a tarp that suits your needs.
What material should you choose for your tarp?
Tarps are primarily made from robust, tear-resistant material to withstand harsh weather conditions. You can choose from a wide range of materials like canvas, plastic, and polyethylene. Let's take a closer look at these materials.
Canvas is one of the popular materials for tarps. They are made from cotton, which makes them eco-friendly in nature. If properly taken care of, they can last for many years. You can also dispose of canvas tarps when they start wearing out. They will decompose completely after some time. Canvas is also breathable, allowing air to flow between the fibres. It is also lightweight, which makes it easy to handle. However, they are not waterproof and can easily rot or suffer from mildew when constantly subjected to wet conditions.
Also known as polytarp, polyethylene is the most versatile and popular material for tarps due to its affordable price and durability. It is also strong, durable, odourless, non-toxic, and weather-proof. Polyethylene can be made from either high- or low-density forms. A heavy-duty polytarp has more poly coatings and a higher mesh count. You’ll also find them in different colours, including brown, white, silver, and others. If you’re looking for a tarp for temporary use, go for a light-duty option. However, constant exposure to harsh weather conditions can affect the overall structure of the polytarp.
Tarps made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or plastic are strong and durable. They can last more than 15 years. They are the best option for the most common protective uses. PVC is also affordable and versatile. You can cut and shape the material in a way that pleases you. It is also lightweight yet sturdy. A plastic tarp is also resistant to weathering, shock, corrosion, and chemicals. In addition, PVC is a safe material. It does not contain any toxic components. However, you should avoid sharp objects when using a plastic tarp, as they can easily scratch the fabric. You should also protect it from rodents.
Additional features to look out for
Besides material, there are a few other things you need to look out for when shopping for a tarp. Taking these features to account will ensure you get a tarp that meets your needs.
Tarps are available in a variety of thickness. Manufacturers measure tarp sheets in millimetres. Thicker tarps are more durable than thinner options. So, if you’re looking for a tarp for outdoor use, choose a thicker option that can withstand heavy rains, strong winds, and scorching sun.
Size and shape
It's important to choose a tarp that covers the items or area without leaving excess material. For instance, if you're camping, you don't want to bring a larger and heavier tarp than you need for your camping tent. Measure the dimension of the tent floor and find tarp sizes that are a few centimetres bigger than the tent floor. It's also crucial to take into account the shape of the tent floor to avoid buying a rectangular tarp for a square floor.
For people who are keen on the overall aesthetics of their camping area, choosing the right colour can go a long way in helping them achieve the desired look. For example, you can select a tarp colour that matches the rest of your camping gear. Choosing the right colour can also have practical advantages. For instance, a wildlife photographer may want to buy a forest shade tarp to make them less noticeable.
Care tips for tarps
Despite being water-resistant and tough, tarps must be maintained to keep them in good condition. Here are a few care tips to keep in mind.
Use mild soap to clean your tarp. It works well on dirt and grime that collects on the tarp.
When cleaning the tarp, spread it out and use a soft-bristle brush or sponge to remove the dirt.
For tough stains, spread the tarp on the floor and allow soapy water to work on the stains for about 15 minutes.
Avoid using strong or harsh chemicals on your tarp, as it may cause irreversible damage.
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