Tarp Maintenance: How to keep tarps in good shape

Tarpaulin sheets are incredibly useful due to their strength, flexibility, and water resistant nature. Proper maintenance is essential in prolonging their useful life. Failure to do so will make the tarp vulnerable to damage by the elements. The lifespan of tarpaulin depends on what material it is made of.

Canvas Tarp
Canvas fabric is woven using natural fibers. These tarps are strong and durable. They are however not waterproof. When water is allowed to accumulate on improperly placed canvas tarp, it may permeate and damage it. Consequently, mold and mildew may grow on them. To avoid this, ensure that the tarp is placed in such a manner that water can easily trickle down. You may also use a finish coating to prevent mold growth and damage from UV rays. To clean the canvas, use a soft-bristle brush and water only. Avoid using soaps, bleach, or detergents. Using hot water or a high-pressure hose pipe may strip the wax coating and make them susceptible to damage. Ensure you store your canvas while 100% dry.

Polyethylene Tarp (“Poly-tarp”)
UV treated polyethylene tarps are resistant to both water and UV radiation. They have a considerably longer lifespan than canvas tarps. However, if not UV treated, they are prone to damage from sunlight exposure. To avoid this, store polyethylene tarps indoors when not in use. You may clean them with warm soapy water or tarpaulin cleaner. Watch out for friction against the covered objects. You may move the tarp around to prevent excessive friction at one particular spot.

Vinyl Tarp
This is an incredibly durable variety. It is inherently resistant to UV damage, hence no need for finishing coats. In addition, mold and mildew do not grow on them. When tears appear on the tarp, you may patch them up with some vinyl fabric and vinyl cement. As with all tarpaulins, one should avoid using them around sharp objects. The seams tend to be more prone to tears than the rest of the sheet. You should, therefore, avoid placing undue pressure on them.

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