Pros & Cons of Canvas Tarps

Unlike the popular, economical blue tarps designed for short term use, or the heavy duty, 18-ounce vinyl coated polyester lumber tarps, canvas tarps are made from 100% cotton fibers, making them a sturdy product that is good for the environment. They come in many sizes, colors, and thicknesses, making them useful in many, but not all, applications. There are distinct pros and cons with regards to canvas tarps. Understanding these factors can help you select the best tarpaulin for your needs.

Canvas tarps are ideal for covering stationary construction machinery and equipment outdoors. The point of using any tarpaulin is to provide protection from sun, wind, rain, and even prying eyes. If your property is securely covered, it is far less likely to be stolen or damaged. Many states require that loads be secured and covered while on public roads, but this is one case in which they should not be used. Canvas tarps are non-trailerable and too likely to tear, resulting in a damaged canvas tarp and unprotected cargo. On the other hand, they last longer than poly tarps and their breathability make them an ideal choice for many applications.

Treated Or Untreated

Canvas tarps come treated or untreated. The treatments make the fabric resistant to water, rot, and mildew. Canvas tarps may be also treated with flame retardant chemicals to make flame retardant canvas tarps. They are also treated with waxes and dyes that make them useful in some applications and inappropriate for others. They can be retreated with products such as Canvak. While these treatments provide benefits, they can also make the material inappropriate for some uses, such as indoor furniture covers.

Cleaning methods vary depending upon whether or not the fabric has been treated. Cleaning treated canvas can be done with soapy water or detergent. Treated canvas should not be washed in a washing machine or dried in a dryer, however. Untreated products can be handled in the same way as any other cotton fabric.

Best Uses

Canvas tarps are best used to cover stationary items where air can breathe through the fabric. Heavy construction machinery and equipment, construction projects, plastic yard toys, and patio furniture are excellent examples of times when this material can provide the best coverage and protection. The air flow keeps the items from molding, rusting, or heat related damages, while the sun and wind protection keep them from deteriorating prematurely or disappearing altogether.

Camping is another excellent time to put these products to work for you and your family. They can be used to provide shade, shelter, and privacy. While not 100% waterproof, the water resistance combined with a reasonable angle can provide shelter from rain. Strung between trees, they can provide shade on even the hottest days.

Not Always The Best Choice

There are situations for which canvas is not your best choice. The treatments used make them inappropriate as vehicle covers or for indoor use. The waxes and dyes used can rub off and stain boat or car exteriors. The chemical treatments also have an odor that many may find offensive. While the odor is usually temporary, the staining factor is not.

As stated earlier, they are not ideal choice for trailering. This means they should not be used to cover truck loads. At the same time, untreated canvas tarps are big favorites among painters and students. These natural fabrics are sturdy enough to be used in a variety of environments and they make incredible painting canvases of practically any size!