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Colored  Poly Tarps

Making The Right Choice In Poly Tarps

The common polyethylene tarp, are among the most versatile of all 'tools', having a useful purpose on the farm, on a camping trip, in your backyard, in the industrial yard, and almost anywhere else you can think of.


Because they are so adaptable, they provide excellent coverage anywhere you need shelter and protection from the sun, rain, wind, or dirt. They are weatherproof, flexible, tolerant to most chemicals, and the least expensive of all tarpaulins.

A poly tarp is constructed by cross weaving strands of polyethylene yarn, then laminating the material on both sides with two or more polyethylene sheets. This provides high tensile and tear strength, but very light weight.

There are more varieties of polyethylene than any other tarp. They can be found in a many weights, sizes, construction, and colors - and they are the least expensive tarp on the market.

Wading Through The ChoicesSilver tarp

  • Color: Although blue poly is the most common, there are lots of colored tarps to choose from - silver, white, green, clear, and brown. Green and brown camouflage patterns often sought out by hunters and campers, while silver is used for its' ability to reflect sun and heat.
  • Exposure Tolerance: Reinforced polyethylene material is naturally water repellant, mildew and rot resistant, and it can be formulated to resist the build-up and retention of electrostatic charges that may be harmful to certain sensitive equipment.

    Since duration and intensity of exposure to sun is one of the main factors in fabric longevity, your tarp should contain stabilizers to protect them from deterioration caused by exposure to the sun's ultraviolet light.
  • Construction: Standard design will include sewn or heat-sealed seams, sometimes a rope sewn into the hem. The most reliable seams are double stitched. Seams with less than four to six stitches per inch may result in premature failure.

    Super heavy duty tarps will have grommets every 18-24 inches along the edge. Lightweight tarps may stretch the spread to 36 inches.

    Look for reinforced grommets or straps that are sewn securely into the seam. This adds a great deal more durability, increasing the pullout resistance compared to rivet-type grommets.

  • Size: When looking at sizes, pay attention to the labeling since the sizes you see specified may not be the actual measured size. Cut size is the initial size of the fabric.

    When the hems of fabric are folded and stitched and seams are sewn, the finished product is usually 4-6 inches smaller on each side than the actual cut size. Finished size is the size of the actual finished product.

Poly Tarps: Judging The Fabric

Blue tarp
Cost is a factor in any purchase, but buying the least or even the most expensive tarpaulin may not be the right decision.
When looking to buy the best tarp for your situation, there are other factors to consider:

  • Thickness: Tarpaulin thickness is measured in mils (1/1000 of an inch). The lightweight tarp found in most hardware stores are 5-6 mils. But if you are planning a heavy duty use, or need a material with longer life, consider one with 10-12 mils, or more.

  • Mesh: The mesh specification is the number of threads per square inch. Heavy-duty tarps will have from 12-16 threads per inch, but more common is 8-10 threads. The thread weight may also be expressed in denier. Denier is the weight in grams of 9000 ft thread. The larger the denier, the stronger the material.

  • Fabric Strength: Durability and strength is a function of thickness and mesh, but also thread size, expressed a denier. Denier is the weight in grams of 9000 ft thread. The larger the denier, the heavier duty the material. Inexpensive and discount tarps are typically 700-800 denier, in a 8x8 thread mesh, and a 5-6 mil thickness. Silver tarps, such as the silver one above, can have a 14x14 mesh, 1000 denier, and a 11-12 mil thickness.

You'll find that poly tarps are a good multi-purpose choice for weather protection needs.


Recommended Sources For Tarps and Tie Downs

We've done the comparisons, and we recommend Global Industrial for their huge selction, high quality, and low price. IN addition to the standard 10 x 10, they are one of the best places to buy large tarps, 20 x 40, 30 x 50, 40 x 60, and all the way up to 120 x 120.

Tool King Micro   Another great source for online tarp deals, ToolKing has lots of sizes at very good prices.

If your need is simple, and are just looking for a cheap tarp to get the job done, Amazon has a great selection of sizes.


For More Information:

Specialty Tarps: A quick look at lumber, drain, coil, and machine tarps.

Tarp Shelters: A better choice for backpackers and light-weight campers.

Camo Tarps: Another popular choice for outdoors men and women.

Leak Diverters: Where to get quick delivery of ceiling rain leak diverters.

Mesh Tarps: The choice when you need airflow and modest shade, and where water proofing is not required.


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