Rain or Shine Why Every Home Needs a Trusty Tarpaulin


Emergency rain protection

Tarps are incredibly useful to have on hand for emergency rain protection around the home. Heavy rain storms can cause significant water damage if they find an opening in your roof or siding. By keeping tarps stashed in your garage, you’ll be prepared to create a temporary shelter or roof patch.

Lightweight Tarps

For lightweight tarps, simply drape the Tarpaulin over the problem area and weigh down the edges with bricks or boards. Make sure to leave slack in the middle so water can run off.

Heavy Duty Tarps

For heavier-duty tarps, ropes or straps are best. Attach ropes to the tarp grommets and throw the ropes over your roof or tree branches. Tie the other end to stakes in the ground.

Tarp material types and usages

When selecting tarps, it’s important to understand the pros and cons of different tarp materials for varying use cases and weather conditions.

Canvas tarps

Canvas tarps are at the high end of Tarpaulin Sheet quality, utilizing a natural cotton and polyester blend. While more expensive initially than plastic or vinyl tarps, canvas tarps are incredibly long-lasting if properly maintained.


Unlike plastic or vinyl, canvas is porous and allows airflow to prevent condensation or mold growth underneath.

UV resistance

The natural fibers in canvas block more UV rays from the sun, reducing material degradation over 5-10 years compared to only 2-3 years for plastic.


When treated with weatherproofing solutions, the canvas can withstand decades of exposure to rain, snow, mud, and abrasion without tearing or puncturing.


The cotton architecture of canvas makes it flexible and able to stretch, rather than developing permanent creases like other materials.

Choosing the right tarp size and fittings

With so many tarp sizes available, it’s easy to get overwhelmed when shopping. Here are some tips for selecting the right dimensions:

Standard tarp sizes:

  • 8×10 feet – Sheds, small vehicles
  • 10×12 feet – Medium vehicles, small structures
  • 12×16 feet – Large vehicles, medium structures
  • 16×20 feet – Equipment, large structures
  • 20×30 feet – Commercial uses, extra large coverage

It’s generally best to size up rather than down, as too small won’t provide adequate coverage. Tarps sized 10-20% larger than the area are ideal.

Common tarp attachments

The rope is one of the most versatile tarp attachment methods. Look for braided or twisted nylon rope in varying diameters depending on needs.


Bungees are affordable and provide adjustable tension, ideal for covering vehicles, furniture, or equipment. Opt for heavy-duty industrial-grade bungee cords for withstanding wide temperature ranges.


Grommets spaced every 2-3 feet along tarp edges allow ropes, ratchet straps, or bungee cords to be strung through and secured. Look for rust-resistant galvanized or zinc/nickel plating on grommets. Reinforced openings better withstand the strain from the wind.

Ratchet Straps

Ratchet straps feature a ratcheting mechanism to crank straps super tight. Great for tarps on flatbed trailers or equipment that must stay firmly in place in transit. Strap ratings of 1,500-3,000 lbs withstand substantial tension.

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Caring for and storing tarps properly

Proper tarp care and storage are key to maximizing their lifespan. Here are some tips:

Cleaning and drying a tarp

For heavier stains, mix mild soap and water in a bucket. Scrub with a soft brush and rinse thoroughly. Avoid abrasive cleaners which can degrade tarp materials over time. Hang tarps to dry completely before folding or storing. Even lightly damp tarps are susceptible to mildew in storage.

Folding and organizing tarps

Unfold tarps completely on a flat surface before folding. Work from the center outward, folding evenly over themselves in a concise manner. Consider rolling large tarps instead of folding them for smoother surfaces. Clearly label tarps according to size, material, and usage (e.g. vehicle cover, event tent). Store tarps in a dry, well-ventilated area away from direct light which can degrade plastic over time.

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