The Guidance of GSM in Tarpaulin

The Guidance of GSM in Tarpaulin

Picture of Pieter Zhang
Hello, I am Pieter Zhang, founder of APAC. I have been in the site safety products business for 14 years and the purpose of this article is to share with you the knowledge about site safety products from the perspective of a Chinese supplier.


Tarpaulin, usually made by coating the surface of canvas or polyester cloth with polyurethane, polyethylene, or some other filler or chemical additive, is a very large, strong, flexible, flame-retardant, and tough waterproof material.

The strength of tarpaulin is determined by many factors, such as the thickness of the tarpaulin, the density of the mesh, and the GSM. GSM is an indicator that must be considered when buying tarpaulin, so what does it mean specifically? How do you choose the suitable GSM when purchasing? Read the following article and you will find the answer.

What is GSM?

The GSM means Grams per Square Metre. It is related to the weight of the tarp material. The higher the GSM number, the stronger the tarp will be. It can be said that the GSM number is a very important indicator of a tarp, but this does not mean that the larger the GSM number you choose when buying is the better, different GSM numbers have different ranges of use. Here are some different common GSM tarps and their applications.

GSM Test Methods

Woven fabrics, coated fabrics, or laminated fabrics often have different GSM values. After obtaining a sample, the GSM test can be used to determine if the specifications are met, a test commonly used in the textile industry. For this test, you will need two tools: a GSM Cutter (also called a “round cutter”) and a weighing scale.

GSM Cutter and weighting pan
gsm tarpaulin test

1. After placing the sampler on the sample, place the sample to be cut on rubber matting. Remove the locking mechanism, then pivot 90 degrees. While holding the handwheel and turning it clockwise with one hand, the sampler is operated with the other. (Rotation> 90°)

2. Returning the locking mechanism. Avoid harming your hands or anything else by not letting blades outside. You will then receive a circular sample.

3. After cutting, you will get a round sample. Place it on the weighing pan, and the value of the square taken on the weighing pan is multiplied by 100, which is the square gram weight of this fabric.

4. For example, the value on the weighing pan is 1.56, so the GSM number of the sample you are testing is 1.56 * 100 = 156 m2. (About 150, sometimes because the weave density is not the same, such as the edge will be a little denser than the middle, so there will be some error, which is normal, we also recommend that the test cut more times to get a more accurate GSM number)


  • The blades are quite sharp, so use caution. Avoid placing your hands underneath the sampler.
  • Please use rubber matting and a sampler. In addition, clean it up and put it back in the box.
  • If the new blade item becomes dull after some use, please repair it. Blades are simple to purchase in any store.

Different GSM Tarps and Applications

Tarpaulins come in different sizes, materials, shapes, and colors. The most important factor is the tarpaulin GSM, The higher the GSM, the higher the density, the heavier the heavy-duty canvas, and generally the longer the life span.

The GSM numbers commonly used for tarpaulins of different materials are different, listed below are several GSM numbers commonly used for tarpaulins of different: materials:

Polyester Tarpaulin (PP)

Polyethylene Tarpaulin (PE)

Polyvinyl Chloride Tarpaulin (pvc)

Home Uses Such as:

  • Awnings
  • Painting & Decoration
  • Covering Furniture
  • Floor & Wall Protection
  • Sport, Inflatable Fabric, Package
  • ……
tarpaulin-Covering Furniture

Outside Uses Such as:

  • Covering Items Outside

  • Protecting Construction Structures

  • Farming Use

  • Groundsheets

  • Rain and Sunshine Shelter, Playground

  • ……
PVC Tarpaulin applications

Industrial Uses Such as:

  • Covering Heavy Machinery, Truck Cover, Top Roof, and Side Curtain.

  • Marine and Auto Uses

  • Extra Long-Term Uses

  • ……
tarpaulin-structure cover

How to Choose the Right Tarpaulin GSM?

There are several things to consider when choosing the correct tarp GSM.

For home use, a lightweight tarp is sufficient for your needs. For temporary use such as covering furniture, covering floors, dust control, picnics, etc., we recommend a polyethylene tarp with a minimum weight of 80 GSM. If you want to use it for a longer period of time, you need to choose a tarp with a higher GSM, we recommend a medium-weight 170 GSM tarp. Regardless of the GSM, it needs to be stored properly and stored for a longer life.

pe tarpaulin application
PVC Tarpaulin-application

If it is used in weather affected conditions like sun, wind, rain, snow and freezing, then a stronger tarp is needed, then you need at least 200 GSM or more. If you think a job will last for a long time or you will use the tarp often in bad weather conditions, then it is better to use 500 GSM or more. Heavy duty polyethylene, PVC and canvas tarpaulins can all be used to cover outside items and we recommend that you feel free to choose with your own circumstances in mind when purchasing.

Note – If using canvas, then most of the time it will be ‘water resistant’ rather that ‘waterproof’. We do not recommend using canvas as a groundsheet for this reason.

If you are working on a construction site, on a farm, or when using heavy machinery, you will need additional heavy-duty tarpaulins. We recommend using a tarp made of PVC because it is the most durable material of our products and you will see it often in industrial settings. We recommend a minimum of 560GSM or more tarpaulin.



In this article, we have presented some knowledge about tarpaulins and their GSM numbers, and we hope that enough information has been provided to give you a good idea of the GSM of the tarp you need. Of course, when buying a tarp, it is not better to choose the one with the higher GSM value, you also need to consider factors such as the use of the tarp, the size, the weight, and your budget. If you need more information, please contact our experts and they will recommend the most suitable tarp for your situation.