We sell a lot of industrial tarps here in Minnesota and we always get a lot of questions about what these means since it’s such a broad category. Really they’re for anything but here’s a good summary of the market.
Generally, tarps are seen as outdoor covers used for protecting vehicles and anything else outdoors. Although this is a common type of use for a tarp, especially a polyethylene one, this is only one of many uses. Tarps are designed in many sizes, as well as materials including polyethylene, canvas, vinyl, and mesh. The size and material determines what the type of tarp is best used for, although almost all are used for some type of covering or sheltering in individual and industrial settings.
Polyethylene tarps have a number of uses in industrial settings. Although not regulated to a specific industry, heavy-duty and medium-duty poly tarps are used to cover various vehicles and other materials, including farm equipment, hay, grain, trucks, and sand. When combined with a galvanized steel frame, a tarp makes a canopy and canopy structures can be found ranging from large-scale airplane hangars to small sheds to protect farm equipment. Protecting farm equipment is a big seller here in Minnesota.
On a more specific level, tarps are used often in the trucking industry, as many states have laws regarding truck loads being covered. As having even gravel fall out of a truck bed could cause injury, a truck transporting materials should have its load covered by a tarp. All of the basic types of tarps have some kind of truck application. Polyethylene and vinyl tarps, as both materials are waterproof, are used the most often, especially for lumber and steel but also asphalt, but canvas mesh tarps are used, instead, when the load can be exposed to water. Essentially, any tarp used for trucking should be strong enough – and applied correctly – to withstand wind whip.
Similar uses are found in an individual level. Protecting vehicles with a tarp, for one use, is common for many homes that do not have a brick-and-mortar garage set up. As with industrial applications, polyethylene tarps can be part of a canopy, and, at home, these structures can protect as a portable carport or as a boat or RV cover for long-term, all-around protection. Aside from the canopy frame, any heavy-duty polyethylene tarp can protect a vehicle, including cars, boats, RVs, and motorcycles, by itself when secured by bungee cords.
Around the home, tarps, especially mesh and canvas materials, have other uses. Mesh tarps can shade a garden and provide appropriate lighting to low-light plants. Canvas tarps, on the other hand, can protect materials outdoors, as well, but they can be used for painting, as the non-slip surface can absorb paint and will stay in place when you work.
One tarp, however, isn’t multipurpose. Certain functions are better for certain tarps but the type of material, overall, has a number of uses.