material of tarpaulin

The Material Guide of 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.


Tarpaulins, also known as “tarps,” are easy to set up, versatile, and highly durable. The tarps have an extensive history. People in earlier ages used tarps made from different materials such as cotton, canvas, metal, polyester, plastic, and nylon. During the period of 1400 to 1600, tarps were used mainly by sailors. They used tarps made from pal to ensure the safety of their goods while traveling via sea route. 

During the period of 1600–1900, tarps were also used by inland people to protect their goods while traveling. And people started using them as tents in the 1700s. From 1900 to the present day, the tarps industry has significantly developed.

Tarps of various styles are available on the market and are suitable for a variety of situations. They are mainly used for campgrounds, flatbeds, construction sites, etc. These include traditional, mesh, automatic, and waterproof tarps. The interesting thing to know is that they are differentiable easily. It is due to weaving patterns and different materials.


Different Materials of Tarpaulin

The primary use of tarps is to cover goods or build a particular space. People also use tarps to protect their goods or spaces from extreme weather conditions. Depending on the uses, tarps are made from different kinds of materials.

It can be said that tarp materials are the basis for making a selection for the type of tarp. The best tarp material depends on your needs and the specifications of the tarp.

Now, different materials are used to make high-quality tarps, let’s explore some most commonly used materials for tarps:

tarpaulin material

1. Canvas

A canvas tarp gives you protection from water as well as sun rays. Canvas material further exists in several forms, cotton duck material is also used for tarp manufacturing. It is a robust and heavy material that is given a wax coating. The wax coating aims to provide a water-resistant layer to the canvas. You must note that it requires periodic wax coating for long-term protection from water.

People also use a specific type of dye to make canvas tarps water-resistant.  

Let’s explore some of its pros, cons, and applications.

canvas tarpaulins


  • Cotton canvas tarpaulin is manufactured from natural fibers. Therefore, there are fewer chances of damage from intense temperature weather.
  • It is a breathable material that prevents moisture from building between the covered object and the tarp.
  • Since it is a heavy material, it also gives protection against wind.


  • It is not a waterproof material naturally, but it needs a periodic wax layer for waterproof properties.
  • The color of the canvas fades away when it is dyed.


  • It can be used as a cover.
  • Groundsheet.
  • Tarmacadam cover.

2. Nylon

Nylon is also one of the most commonly used materials for tarp manufacturing. Nylon material is known for its strong strength-to-weight ratio. The higher elasticity factor also plays a massive role in stretching the tarps. And the best part to know is that it is highly durable.

They are also known for their waterproof abilities. These features make the nylon tarps ideal for long-term uses. This one also consists of advantages, disadvantages, and applications like other materials.

nylon tarpaulin


  • Readily available in the market.
  • Fire retardant properties.


  • Less protection against extreme weather conditions.


  • Temporary shelter.
  • Transportation industry
  • Keeping things clean
  • Covering damaged areas

3. Polypropylene Tarpaulin (PP)

This tarpaulin is a propene polymer tarp. Polypropylene is just an alternative name used for polymer tarp. You must know that these tarpaulins are more similar to the tarps that are manufactured from jute. But the best part to know is that they don’t allow any water to pass through the sheet.


  • Highly waterproof tarp.
  • You can get some types of polypropylene tarps at a relatively cheaper cost.
  • These tarps are best known for their waterproof properties.


  • These tarps are designed in such a way that you can’t keep them in constant sunlight for years.


  • Shelters or tents
  • Creating privacy
  • Blocking winds
  • Catching water
PP tarpaulin

4. Polyethylene Tarpaulin (PE)

Polyethylene tarpaulin is also known as ethylene polymer tarp. You must know that these tarps are also known as poly tarps. But you should also have an idea of the fact that these are not the most robust kinds of tarpaulins. Most manufacturers make these tarps from low-density polyethylene. But there are also some manufacturers using high-quality ones.

The first type is weak tarps, while the second is a more flexible and stronger option. Let’s dig into some fantastic pros, cons, and uses of polyethylene tarpaulins.


  • Waterproof
  • Lightweight
  • Good heat and cold resistance
  • Good chemical stability
  • Maintain flexibility at low temperatures


  • You may be unable to use these tarps for hard-wearing or extensive uses.


  • A cover but not for a longer time duration.
  • Covering tents as a temporary shelter.
pe tarpaulin application

5. Polyvinyl Chloride Tarpaulin (PVC)

Polyvinyl chloride tarpaulins are known to be a strong option as compared to those made from polyethylene. These tarps are designed in such a way that you can get them for extended use in extreme weather conditions. Some manufacturers also use PVC lamination to construct Polyvinyl chloride tarpaulin from polyester.


  • Waterproof
  • Less prone to tears and rips.


  • Polyvinyl chloride tarpaulin is not a breathable option.


  • These tarps are mainly used for heavy-duty applications.


Tarpaulins are used as a shelter or cover when you want to save your construction site from various conditions. But you must ensure that the tarp you are using is made from high-quality materials. And choosing the right quality tarpaulin is highly dependent on which manufacturer or supplier you choose.

Contact Us now if you want to buy a tarpaulin made from high-quality raw material. We ensure our customers successfully protect their goods and sites with our best-quality tarps.