Industrial tarpaulins are used to protect machinery, pallets, and building materials from exposure to rain, sunlight, and other environmental conditions.
- Poly tarpaulins are lightweight, moisture-resistant, and relatively inexpensive. They consist of cross-woven strands of polyethylene (PE), polypropylene, or another polyolefin plastic. 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. They are heavier than polyethylene products, but are sturdier and provide better wind resistance.
- Vinyl tarpaulins are made of vinyl-coated polyester and are often coated with flame-retardant polyvinyl chloride (PVC). They are a more heavy-duty tarp than polyethylene, used where more reliable protection is needed. They tend to be waterproof, highly abrasion resistant, and resistant to corrosion or 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 allow for the partial passage of wind and light, making them suitable for enclosures, site barriers, awnings, and construction sites.
Lamination is a process used to combine layers of plastics to create a high density laminate tarpaulin. 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. Five layer tarpaulins consisting of two layers of woven fabric or mesh sandwiched between three layers of LDPE/LLDPE plastic films are also available.
Selecting tarpaulins requires an analysis of specifications important to the application. Properties include water-resistance, strength, corrosion resistance, abrasion resistance, and various features.
- Water-resistance is important for tarpaulins that must provide protection from rain and moisture. Different tarps provides varying levels of protection, from little resistance to completely waterproof.
- Strength is a tarpaulin's ability to hold together when subject to forces. A tarp's strength changes based on material and the weaving design. 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 UV light and foreign materials such as oils, acids, greases, and mildew. Special coatings can be applied to tarps to provide resistance to different types 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. Grommets are plastic or metal eyelets in tarpaulins used to help secure tie-downs. Ropes are often sewn and sealed to tarpaulin borders to provide strength and enhanced tear resistance. Coatings include flame-retardants and corrosion resistant materials that provide different types of protection. Some suppliers provide accessories along with the tarp including replacement grommets, anti-mildew treatments, tarp tie-downs, and ropes.
When purchasing a tarp, size and area requirements should be understood to provide necessary coverage for the application.
Tarpaulins are used in a variety of applications and industries. Some products are used as hay tarps, lumber tarps, boat tarps, or truck tarps. Others serve as snow fences or tent canopies. They are also used in construction projects to cover bridges, building, and water towers.