There are countless uses for tarpaulin covers, both in personal and commercial applications. If you have specialised use for them, however, it can be difficult to find the proper fit from the standard-size tarps commonly stocked by suppliers. If you need a custom tarpaulin cover made, this article provides some information you can use to give proper specifications so that you end up with the best one for your purposes.
1. Choice of material
Tarps are most commonly made from poly, canvas, mesh and vinyl. Each of these materials has specific qualities that make them more or less suitable for different applications. They are described below:
Poly tarps – polyethylene is versatile and economical, making it a popular choice for canopies, gym floor covers, in-field covers and truck bed lining, among others. You can get a heavy- or light-duty tarp and have an option for UV treatment for both (good for outdoor applications). Use light-duty for temporary covering purposes.
Canvas tarps – canvas is the original tarping material, and it can be made from cotton, polyester or a cotton-poly blend. It is breathable and resilient, but it isn't waterproof. A waterproof coating can be applied, but it's just cheaper to get poly — a popular choice for truckers and painters.
Vinyl tarps – the most common type is the vinyl-coated poly tarp, used as windscreens, awnings and divider curtains, among others. It's the most durable of the lot. Industrial vinyl is popular with truckers as it can withstand harsh weather exposure. Its surface is easy to clean and resistant to sharps (heavy-duty only). You can use clear vinyl if transparency is required. Fire-resistance can be added if desired.
Mesh tarps – mesh is commonly used in construction for debris control or to offer protection with unhindered air or water movement. You'll also see mesh tarps around the perimeter of playing fields for ball containment and to improve privacy. The mesh has different measures of light-blockage depending on the level of privacy needed.
2. Tarp size
The biggest reason people look for custom tarps is to find sizes suited to irregular applications. When ordering, it's important to note the difference between the cut size and the finished size. The former refers to the tarp before hems and seams are put in; the latter is shorter. You must specify your measurements as cut or finished so that you end up with the right size. Additionally, order slightly bigger dimensions than you think you need just to be safe. Take measurements carefully because custom orders often can't be returned as they were made specifically for you. Think of the old adage, "Measure twice, cut once."
3. Lead time
Order your tarps well in advance. Different suppliers have different lead times on custom tarps according to the complexity of the order, but it can be as short as two weeks or as long as eight weeks. Add an extra week for shipping, especially if it's done by a third party. Shipping can take much longer if your supplier is in another state or country.