Tarpaulins, also known as tarps or sails, are probably the best and most versatile tool you can invest in to protect your valuables. A tarpaulin is a large sheet of strong, flexible, water-resistant or waterproof material, reinforced with polyester base cloth and then coated with PVC. It is also made of canvas or plastic such as polyethylene.


In early seafaring communities, sailors were known as tarpaulins because they slept on deck under a strong fabric waterproofed with tar. The word tarpaulin comes from tar and palling, another 17th century name for sheets used to cover objects on ships.


Tarpaulins are used in many ways and industries to protect people and valuables from wind, rain, and sunlight. They are versatile and have amongst other things the following uses:

  • Transport: As a waterproof cover, tarps can protect loads on open trucks and trailers. They are used as taut liners, tipper and flat tarps, truck, trailer and bakkie covers.
  • Agriculture, mining and manufacturing industry: Other applications of tarps include grain and hay covers, dam liners, to keep wood piles dry, factory and shed dividers, shelter walls, container curtains, machinery covers, welding screens, etc. They can also be used for large advertisement prints and banners.
  • Construction: In construction tarps can be used to haul and contain debris and to prevent spillage during painting and similar activities. After disasters they be used for shelter and to protect partially built or damaged structures.
  • Sports: Tarps are used to cover sports fields and equipment.
  • Home, garden and leisure: Tarps are versatile in their application to cover gas braais, boats, pools, jacuzzies, outdoor furniture, etc. They are also ideal for camping and covering floor space.


When investing in a tarpaulin for your business or home that is worth your money, it is important to consider the following aspects:

1. Quality

Although cost is important, topping the list should always be the quality of the tarp. Does not matter what your tarp will be used for, you really need to pay attention to the quality of the tarp you are buying. Buying cheap, mostly  ends up in a costly exercise, because you get what you pay for. Buying a top quality tarp will ensure that you will have many years of service. A good way to determine the best quality is to check and consider the thickness and type of material used, but also how the tarpaulin is manufactured.

     a. Type and material

You want a tarp that is light and easy to handle but durable enough to withstand all kind of weather conditions. Ensure that the material used to manufacture your tarp is has the following qualities:

  • 1st grade material that is ISO9001 certified and proudly SA manufactured.
  • Carries a 12 months warranty backed by the material manufacturer.

Depending on what your needs are, it is important to choose the right type of tarp if you want to make the most of this product:

  • PVC tarpaulins: This type of tarp is highly durable and flexible and makes an ideal choice for transport, agriculture, manufacturing industry, mining and sports and come in the following thicknesses:
    • 550g – Medium duty
    • 700g – Heavy duty
    • 800g – Extra heavy duty

The tear and tensile strengths of the tarp is determined by the base cloth. Ensure that the base cloth used consists of threads of polyester running in two directions and is either a full Panama weave (two yarns running together in each direction that gives extra tear strength), or a half Panama weave (two yarns running together in one direction and the yarn in the other direction is a single yarn).

  • Polyethylene tarpaulins: Poly tarps is made from heavy-duty plastic and has many applications. It is lightweight and absorbs nearly 0% water, making it perfect for many outdoor applications and come in the following thickness:
    • 180g – High density
  • Canvas tarpaulins: Made from highly durable ripstop canvas that is fungal resistant and waterproof, canvas tarps tend to be more expensive than poly tarps but last longer and is perfect for tougher applications. They come in the following thicknesses:
    • 260g – Riptech
    • 300g – Riptech
    • 400g – Riptech
    • 500g – Riptech

     b. Manufacturing process

Quality manufacturing of the tarp is just as important as the material used. Ensure the following:

  • PVC high frequency welding is used to ensure strong seams and joins.
  • Polyethylene and canvas stitching is up to the best standards.
  • Stainless steel eyelets are used.

2. Size and ease of use

Tarps differ in size and weight to cater for various needs. Due to the unique sizes, it is better to opt for a custom-made tarp to ensure that it fits your needs and at the same time prevent future unexpected costs when it either hasn’t lasted and has to be replaced. It is also important to consider the size vs what it will weigh to ensure ease of moving and using the tarp. Sometimes it is better to have 2 smaller tarps than to have one large tarp that is difficult to manoeuvre. Also look for a tarp that have eyelets so you can easily install, attach or secure it to where it needs to be.

3. Colour

When it comes to tarps, colour is not only about the look and design of the product. Tarps come in a wide range of colours and it also speaks of the quality of the material used. Some colours like burgundy, purple, pink and certain greens easy fade in the sun. Colours that last longer are blue, black, grey, dark earth and beige.

4. Sales and customer experience

A last point to think about when buying your next tarp is not just to consider the material and quality, but also to consider the sales and customer service experience you will receive:

  • Have you been attended to friendly and effective?
  • Has the different options in terms of type of material been explained? (Remember that you can ask for the material specs, as well as references.)
  • Was the quote clear and on time?
  • Has the sales T&C’s, warranty and after sales service been explained?
  • Has a possible collection date been communicated?
  • Has the product caring instructions been explained to you?

Choosing the best tarp for your business or project is very important to ensure maximum output. Determining the desired applications, size and specific features is the key to buying the best tarp in the market.

Speak with a professional at Midrand Tarp & Tent today to find the best heavy duty tarps for your specific needs.