The first thing to keep in mind when shopping for a protective cover is the application. Tarpaulins come in a variety of weights, thicknesses, and materials. Most people are very familiar with the popular poly blue tarps that can be found at most discount stores. These “blues” are at the low end of the quality spectrum and are not intended to last for very long or handle much stress or strain. At the same time, the blue ploys are inexpensive, convenient, and highly useful for temporary cover. If more than that is needed, there are several other varieties to choose from in the poly and vinyl categories.
Generally speaking, vinyl is stronger than poly, and more expensive. If you need something that won’t be likely to rip or tear, vinyl is a better choice. At the same time, there are plenty of times when inexpensive poly will do the job beautifully and for far less money. Understanding the various types of both poly and vinyl tarps that are available on the market today will help you to select the best product for your needs.
Poly White Tarp
The most common use for a white tarp is to provide long term protection for boats, cars, and RVs. They are also used in landscaping, roofing, to cover wood piles, and even skating rinks. Unlike the lightweight blue tarp, a white tarp is a heavy duty tarp designed to last longer and to withstand the effects of sun, wind, and rain. A white tarp is waterproof, mildew, rot, tear and acid resistant, and can handle below freezing temperatures. They are also UV treated for protection against sunlight and to ensure a longer life. A quality white tarp offers heat sealed edges and the hems are reinforced with rope. Corners are reinforced with a solid plastic bar, adding strength and stability. The material is 11-12 mils thick, making it durable and tear resistant.
Poly Silver Tarp
A silver tarp is another variety of heavy duty poly tarp. At 12 mils thick, they are highly rip resistant. They are also treated to be water, rot, and mildew resistant, and can be used in sub-zero temperatures. Silver tarps are frequently used for roofing, trailer and RV covers, woodpiles, and landscaping. Like the white tarp, a silver tarp offers UV protection and heat sealed seams reinforced with rope in the hems and rust resistant grommets.
Vinyl Clear Tarps
Vinyl clear tarps are an excellent choice for patio and porch enclosures, allowing you to enjoy the outdoors without getting wet. They can also turn your RV awning into an instant porch with a view. Unlike many others, clear tarpaulins come in both poly and vinyl material. Vinyl clear tarps are available in both 18 oz – 20 mil size and 27 oz – 30 mil size. This means that they feature 18 or 20 ounces of material per square yard and are 20 to 30 mil thick. This makes them some of the strongest tarps available on the market. Clear vinyl tarps are highly waterproof, tear resistant, as well as acid, oil, grease, and mildew resistant.
Poly Clear Tarps
Clear poly tarps are lighter and less expensive and provide less protection than their vinyl cousins. If you will be painting your home and want to protect the furniture or the shrubs, poly is an excellent choice. In those situations, you can save a lot of money be using poly instead of vinyl. In situations where strength and durability are important, vinyl will give you all the protection you need.