Tarp: Durable and Versatile

Durable Tap Project in Factory
Vinyl Tarpaulin project in progress.


Tarp, short for tarpaulin, is a durable and malleable fabric ideal for creating shelter for yourself or an object from the elements. Most tarp is waterproof or water-resistant, making it the ideal fabric for impromptu tents or our durable bags. The main classification systems for the different styles of tarp are material profile or performance categories. When working to design and create a durable carrying case, tarp is one of our recommended fabric choices due to its durability, versatility, and the ease with which it is cleaned.

Material profile describes what other fabrics the tarp is composed of. There are three main types of tarp:

Polyethylene, the most common plastic in the world, is used to make “polytarp”. Polytarp – in turn the most common type of tarp for consumers – is generally a woven sheet of mesh fabric between two polyethylene sheets. The popularity of this tarp stems from the innumerable options in color, size, and thickness. Thickness of a polytarp is measured in mils (1/1000in), and can be changed by the amount of polyethylene reinforcement sheets added in production. Polytarp is disposable but can be reused.

Canvas tarp is designed reusable, water and mildew resistant, and flame retardant. One of the most everyday uses for canvas tarp is for covering indoor or outdoor furniture or carpets during painting or construction. Canvas tarps are heavy enough to stay in place and are less slick than poly tarp, which reduces slippage and movement. Canvas tarps are ideal for building shelter for protection from the sun, rain, and wind. Though canvas tarps are water resistant, they are not waterproof, and in event of mass water accumulation on the tarp, there may be some leakage.

Vinyl tarp is industrial strength and heavy duty. Vinyl is the second most used plastic in the world after polyethylene. These tarps are used for long-term protection from wind, water, tearing, and extreme heat or cold temperatures. Vinyl tarps are made from natural materials, making them very affordable and recyclable while upholding a standard of durability not reached by canvas or 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.

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