Tarp: Durable and Versatile

Durable Tap Project in Factory
Vinyl Tarpaulin project in progress.

Tarp, short for tarpaulin, is a durable fabric ideal for protecting yourself or an object from the elements. Most tarp is waterproof or water-resistant, making it ideal for impromptu tents or bags. Types of tarp are distinguished by material and performance categories. Tarp is a great material for designing and creating a durable carrying case due to its durability, versatility, and because of how easy it is to clean.

There are three main types of tarps:

Polyethylene Tarp

Polyethylene, the most common plastic in the world, is used to make “polytarp”, the most common consumer-grade tarp. Polytarp is a woven sheet of mesh fabric between two polyethylene sheets. The popularity of this tarp stems from its versatility and reliability. Other common materials are canvas and vinyl. The thickness of a polytarp is measured in mils (1/1000in), and is changed by the amount of polyethylene sheets added in production.

Vinyl Tarps

Vinyl tarp is an industrial strength, heavy duty plastic, and the second most common material for tarp after polyethylene. These tarps are used for long-term protection from wind, water, and extreme temperatures. Vinyl tarps are made from natural materials, making them recyclable and easy to manufacture while still remaining more durable than both canvas and polytarp. Vinyl tarp is the ideal material for a carrying case that is going to be used outdoors, as it can face the elements due to its durability, and due to the fact that it can be very easily cleaned.

Canvas Tarp

Canvas is a material made from blended cotton. It is designed to be sturdy, durable, and heavy-duty. Because it is made of blended cotton, it needs to be treated to adopt qualities such as water and mildew resistance, and being flame retardant. Tarp’s cheap and durable nature makes it easily replaceable but dependable. This makes it great for covering furniture, carpets, and floors during painting or construction. Canvas also has the benefit of being breathable and able to trap heat, making it a fantastic material for tents. Unfortunately, without treatment, canvas will rot in the rain and will easily become bogged down by water. Canvas tarps are heavy enough to stay in place and the cotton fibers help it stick to surfaces, and prevents things from sliding off.


The other major tarp classification system is a performance category, which is identified by a common color system that also helps to determine the thickness of the tarp. Unfortunately, not all tarp manufacturers have adopted this color-coding method of measurement, so knowing the numeric measurement system on its own is beneficial.

  • Blue is light-duty, and measures approximately 5–6 mils (about 0.14 mm) thick.
  • Yellow or Orange is medium-duty, and measures approximately 7–8 mils (about 0.19 mm) thick.
  • Green is also medium-duty, and measures approximately 9–10 mils (about 0.24 mm) thick.
  • Silver is heavy-duty, and measures approximately 11–12 mils (about 0.29 mm) thick.
  • Brown is super-heavy-duty, and measures approximately 16 mils (about 0.41 mm) thick.

Tarp is the ideal fabric for heavy-duty projects due to its durability and versatility. While working to design a durable carrying case, our sourced tarpaulins are always highly recommended.