What is Tarpaulin?
A tarpaulin, also known as a tarp, is a large sheet of flexible and robust material made from waterproof or water-resistant cloth. Tarpaulins have reinforced grommets along the sides and at the corners, which serve as attachment posts for rope. The fastening grommets allow tarpaulins to be tied down or remain suspended. Tarp fabric consists of plastics such as polyethylene, or polyester coated with polyurethane, or canvas.
Uses of Tarpaulin
Tarpaulins protect things or persons from elements such as sunlight, rain, and wind. Some of their applications include:
- Protection of damaged structures after disasters.
- During construction, they contain and collect debris.
- In partially built structures, they prevent mess during painting, and other similar activities.
- They are suitable for shelters such as tents or other temporary structures.
- Tarps keep woodpiles dry.
- They protect loads of open wagons and trucks, see here: LKW plane.
- Tarps are excellent for advertisement printing, especially billboards. For instance, perforated tarpaulins are suitable for protection on scaffolding and large advertisements. The perforations, which are about 20% to 70%, are meant to reduce wind vulnerability.
- When an inexpensive, waterproof fabric is needed, polyethylene tarpaulins are a popular source.
- Most amateur builders of plywood sailboats use polyethylene tarp for making their sails as it’s easily worked and inexpensive. With the right adhesive tape, it’s easy to make a serviceable sail with no sewing for a small boat.
- Tarpaulins are used as building materials by some indigenous North American communities to make tents known as tarpees.
Types of Tarpaulins
Tarpaulins can be classified based on several factors, including thickness, grommet size, and material type, among others. Tarps can be, mildewproof or non-mildewproof, waterproof or non-waterproof, and washable or non-washable.
- Polyethylene (polytarp) tarps
They are a laminate of loosely woven polyethylene plastic and polyethylene sheet material. They are waterproof and do not stretch. UV treated polytarps can last for years, but non-UV treated tarps can quickly lose water resistance and strength if exposed to sunlight.
- Canvas tarps
Canvas tarps are water-resistant though not 100% waterproof. Water for a short period will not affect the tarp, but standing water will drip through the fabric.
- Vinyl or polyvinyl chloride tarps
Vinyl tarps are industrial-grade, intended for heavy-duty use. They are waterproof and have high tear strength and abrasion resistance. These types of tarps resist mildew, grease, acid, and oil. They are ideal for temporary roof repair, flood barriers, trucks, industrial, construction, and agriculture.
- Silnylon tarps
They are the best for outdoor gears in applications such as hot air balloons and parachutes. Silnylon fabric is suitable for the manufacturing of backpacks and bivy bags. They are highly waterproof but not breathable.