LAST UPDATED: February 10, 2020
Best Tarps: Heavy-Duty Protection at All Times
If you’re looking for heavy-duty protection from the elements, check out these three top tarps.
The Review Team
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PUBLISHED ON February 10, 2020
A tarpaulin or tarp is very effective at keeping a variety of items protected from the elements and dust. These durable products also act as effective camping gear to provide the right level of shelter and protection during outdoor adventures. Keeping a tarp in your home or vehicle to handle any emergencies is a good idea. Tarps are made from a wide variety of materials that vary in durability and ease of use. This article will highlight the top three tarps to help you choose the best one to fit your needs.
The thick material is resistant to UV and mold. The tarp is waterproof and ideal for rainy weather and snow. It is available in multiple shades.
Some grommets may be unevenly spaced. The dimensions are not as per the specifications. The thickness can be insufficient for specific outdoor functions.
A lightweight polyethylene tarp with rope reinforced edges. It is shrink-proof, waterproof, and UV-resistant. The grommets are rustproof and durable in nature.
The tarp is not as thick as the competitors. It is not the right choice for heavy-duty use. It can lose color with time.
A special 14x14 weave with dual lamination makes this tarp extremely durable. The 10-millimeter thickness makes it effective for a variety of purposes. The aluminum grommets are rustproof.
This tarp is expensive. Uneven placement of grommets is an issue. Prolonged exposure to the hot sun can affect the material.
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Benefits of Tarps
- Versatility. Tarps can be used for an infinite number of applications in almost any industry. Not only are they useful for camping, but they can also be used in greenhouses, construction projects, fishing, and outdoor garages. You can also personalize the tarp and make a hammock or a playhouse for children.
- Protect your property. Most tarps are flame-retardant and water-resistant. They can, therefore, be used to protect valuable property from damage. You can use it to cover your furniture, vehicle, or other outdoor equipment.
- Floor covering. In case you don’t have or need to buy a carpet, you can use a large tarp as a floor covering in the garage or basement. It can also be used to cover the surface before you paint or reconstruct any walls.
- Weatherproofing. Lightweight, waterproof tarps can be used on baseball or football fields as a temporary shelter and removed when the rain ceases. They can also be used to prevent damage to plants in an outdoor garden if there’s a snowstorm.
- Reusability. Most tarps are made of durable and heavy-duty fabrics. You don’t have to dispose of the tarp and can, instead, switch to another function. For instance, a tarp that was once used for covering an RV can be used as a tent with only a few poles.
Types of Tarps
Poly or polyethylene tarps are made from recycled plastic and designed with a woven mesh fabric that’s sandwiched between sheets of polyethylene. They are the most commonly used tarps due to their durability; they are typically tough, resistant to UV rays, and chemical-resistant. However, most poly tarps aren’t fireproof and shouldn’t be used anywhere near an open flame.
Canvas tarps have high moisture resistance capabilities. However, if water pools on the canvas tarp without being drained for a long time, it may start to leak. They are also flame-retardant and great for working with combustible material. Canvas tarps are breathable and ideal for construction or making tents.
Vinyl or polyvinyl chloride tarps are industrial-grade and best used for heavy-duty applications. They are typically designed with superb water and abrasion resistance properties. Most can also resist acid, oil, grease, and mildew damage. They are recommended for agricultural and industrial use.
Mesh tarps are made of nylon threads closely woven together to offer shade. The mesh isn’t necessarily tight and only works to limit the number of sun rays that pass through the tarp. You can get one with a higher thread count if you want something long-lasting. They are primarily used as garden shades, privacy screens, or as golf course netting.
For over 20 years, B-Air has manufactured high-quality industrial and domestic equipment, including air scrubbers, dehumidifiers, and tarps. The company is located in Azusa, California, and supplies its products through a network of online and storefront retail distributors throughout the world. Check out the B-Air Grizzly Tarp, which is a great poly tarp.
Kotap has been one of the largest distributors of polyethylene products since 1982. The company is headquartered in Lawrence, New York, and specializes in the distribution of various forms of poly tarps. Some of its best tarpaulins include the Kotap General Purpose Poly Tarp and the Kotap Reversible Poly Tarp.
Headquartered in Bloomfield, New Jersey, Xpose Safety specializes in manufacturing safety products for on-the-job and outdoor environments. Some of its products include safety footwear, gloves, headgear, fall protection equipment, and tarps. One of its best-selling poly tarps is the Xpose Safety Multi-purpose Heavy-duty Silver & Black Tarp.
Stansport is a California-based company that designs outdoor equipment for camping, hiking, backpacking, emergencies, and recreation. The company was founded in 1949 and has gained over 70 years of experience in the outdoor industry. One of its best-rated tarps is the Stansport Reinforced Multi-Purpose Tarp.
- Under $20: Expect to find a wide variety of tarps here, ranging from light-duty to heavy-duty tarps, so long as you are only buying a single piece. The cheaper tents come with aluminum grommets, which isn’t the strongest metal but can handle light-duty applications.
- Over $20: Tarps within this price range utilize high-quality protective material to make them more durable. They also feature high-strength steel or brass grommets. Some expensive tarps are reinforced with mesh on one side to make the material breathable.
The thickness of a tarp is typically measured in millimeters. Thin tarps are about 8 millimeters (0.008 inches), medium tarps are around 10 millimeters (0.01 inches), and heavy-duty tarps range from 13 to 21 millimeters (0.13 to 0.24 inches). Heavy-duty tarps are more durable and better suited for more intensive applications like construction.
By size, we refer to the length and width of the tarp. Your choice will largely depend on the application. Note that at times the item may not match the size advertised by the manufacturer, and it may be a bit smaller.
Grommets are the metal rings fixed around the edges of the tarp that help you tie down the fabric. Grommets are typically made of rustproof metal with brass being the most durable. Check the spacing between the grommets to determine the application of the tarp. It’s typically around 18 to 36 inches with the lower end geared towards heavy-duty applications and wider spacing for lighter jobs.
Tarps need additional reinforcement to prevent damage. The best tarps have corner reinforcement and a perimeter rope that’s sewn at the edge of the tarp. Further reinforcement includes folded and heat-sealed hems and plastic-capped grommets.
- Mold/ Mildew Resistance: If you leave your tarp outside, it will accumulate some overnight dew. When it heats up in the morning, the moisture can cause some mildew or mold to breed on the fabric. You, therefore, need a water-resistant and UV-treated tarp to discourage mildew growth.
- Color: The color is a small but important detail, especially when you intend to use the tarp to cover your furniture or vehicle. For outdoor use, you may want a color that blends into the background or a reflective color like silver for sun blocking. Choose brighter colors if you need visual appeal.
- Flame Retardancy: Some tarps, such as canvas, are fire-retardant and can be used next to a heating source or open flame. This can be beneficial for mechanical work where sparks are constantly flying around you.
Best Tarps Reviews & Recommendations 2020
The Trademark Supplies Tarp features a 12 by 14 weave and heavy-duty, double-laminated coating. The tarp is designed for durability and can tolerate any harsh climate. It’s designed to be fade- and UV-resistant, and the grommets are rustproof. It’s reinforced with heat-sealed seams and a rope at the hem. Also, you will find a grommet every three feet.
The polyethylene fabric feels thick and resists scratches and tears. Also, since it’s UV-treated, it’s more resistant to mold and mildew than other plastic-based tarps in its class. You can get the tarp in either white, blue, brown, green, or silver. It can make a great canopy tent when camping or be used to cover your RV to protect it from the elements.
Unfortunately, it’s not the thickest tarp out there and may be too thin for some outdoor functions. Also, the size described on the packaging may not be the same as the final cut size that you receive. Moreover, you may find unevenly-spaced grommets in some of the tarps.
The Hanjet Camping Tarp is one of the lightest tarps available. Its thin size is to enhance its flexibility. It’s made of waterproof and UV-treated material to resist rotting, mildew, and shrinking. The tarp features a tight polyethylene weave that’s heat sealed and rope-reinforced at the edges. What’s more, when used as recommended, the industrial-capped, double-reinforced corners will help keep the fabric durable for longer.
The tarp is fitted with heavy-duty and rust-resistant grommets that increase the durability of the fabric and help to tie it down. The tarp can tolerate all weather conditions and can be used to cover a boat, to keep firewood dry, or as a makeshift shelter.
However, since it’s a lightweight tarp, it can only be used for limited applications that don’t put a strain on the fabric. Also, the fabric may lose its color with time, especially with frequent exposure to the sun.
The DRY TOP Poly Tarp is a durable tarp that’s best reserved for heavy-duty applications, such as creating an outdoor roof. The tarp is designed with a tightly woven 14 by 14 polyethylene weave for increased strength, and the corners are reinforced with rust-resistant grommets. The fabric is lighter than canvas, heat-sealed at the seam, and is machine-washable.
At each corner of the tarp, you will find either silver or brown, rust-resistant grommets placed about 18 inches from each other. The grommets have plastic caps for reinforcement. When not abused, the tarp remains aesthetically appealing for a long time since it’s UV-treated and mildew-resistant.
Despite being UV-treated, prolonged exposure to intense sun rays can still damage the fabric. Additionally, it's more expensive than other polyethylene tarps. You may also find some models with unevenly-spaced grommets.
Xpose's Super Heavy Duty 16 Mil Brown Poly Tarp Cover comes in numerous sizes, from six by eight feet to 30 by 50 feet. Thick, strong, and durable, it's great for protecting your car, boat, or wood piles outdoors. The tarp is waterproof, weatherproof, and UV-resistant, so it's useful in the rain and snow. It can also withstand wind and storms and is rip proof and tear proof.
The tarp is easy to tie it down securely using the metal grommets, which are spaced 18-inches apart and at all corners, which are reinforced with extra material. The tarp is made of polyethylene and is designed to outlast rival plastic tarps. Overall, it performs as advertised and is an excellent, heavy-duty option.
Because it's so thick and heavy, the larger designs can be tough to pull over objects such as sheds without the help of another person. Also, it’s a little pricier than some other options.
If you're looking for a lightweight tarp, check out the GUARD RHINO Tarp 9x12 Feet Green Multi Purpose Waterproof Poly Tarp. It's also available in sizes six by six feet to nine by 15 feet. This double-sided, woven tarp is made with coated polyethylene. It has heat-sealed seams and rustproof aluminum grommets every three feet.
This all-weather, 4-mils-thick tarp is designed to cover items such as yard equipment, kayaks, boats, and vehicles. It can provide added camping protection and act as an emergency roof or shade. The tarp is durable, portable, washable, and reusable. One of the best things about it is it's so inexpensive. It doesn't tear in the wind and generally keeps items underneath nice and dry.
However, it's a little on the thin side, so it's a little flimsy. While it's fine for light-duty tasks, it's not a heavy-duty tarp. Some users have also reported that the metal grommets can fail.
- Since tarps are mostly used outdoors, you need to choose a unit that is strong and durable enough to withstand the changes in the weather.
- The tarps made from polyethylene and PVC materials offer the best waterproofing. PVC tarps are also good performers in freezing temperatures.
- While choosing a tarp, make sure that you pick the right size that offers sufficient coverage for outdoor purposes. Tarps are available in various sizes and some can even be customized.
Q: What are the factors that determine the durability of a tarp?
A: In general, the heavier the material of the tarp, the stronger it is. The other factors are the methods of preparation of the fabric and the chemical coatings added to it.
Q: Do I need to select a tarp that is UV-protected?
A: A tarp that is protected from UV rays will last longer when placed outdoors. Non-UV-treated tarps tend to get brittle and lose their material strength when exposed to sunlight for longer periods.
Q: How do cotton canvas tarps differ from polyester canvas tarps?
A: A polyester tarp has almost double the tear strength of a cotton tarp. They are also more resistant to UV rays. In addition, their colors are more permanent and they do not leave stains.
TheTrademark Supplies Heavy Duty Tarp is our top choice in this category because of its capability to withstand prolonged outdoor use.
As a budget option, theHanjet Camping Tarp is an effective lightweight choice for camping trips.