For truckers, farmers, and anyone else who works outdoors, quality tarps are an important investment.
It’s important to have the tarp you actually need for the job at hand, and it’s wise to be prepared to tackle new jobs that come up. But figuring out the best quality tarp for the price– and which one will actually get the job done–can be tricky. Fortunately, we’ve got your back in the complex world of tarping.
There are two primary types of tarps: Throw Tarps and Truck Tarps.
- Throw Tarps:
Throw tarps are coverings designed to protect stationary things, typically stored outdoors. Throw tarps might cover hay, machinery, boats, generators, or even camping materials.
- Truck Tarps:
Truck Tarps are used to cover and protect loads on the backs of trucks as the loads are transported. Some tarps are created for specific types of loads (like steel tarps or bee hauling tarps), which others are made to protect loads from a particular type of damage (like smoke tarps).
Today we’re going to take a close look at different types of truck tarps.
6 Most Useful Types of Truck Tarps
- Lumber Tarps
Lumber tarps are, by far, the most popular tarps for truckers and haulers. They can be used to cover a wide variety of loads, including lumber.
Lumber tarps are made of 14 oz or 18 oz vinyl, and have three rows of D-rings for precise securement.
- Steel Tarps
One key difference between steel tarps and lumber tarps is size. Steel tarps are smaller than lumber tarps. Steel is more dense than lumber is, so steel loads are shorter – That’s why 4’ drop tarps are the most typical size for steel tarps, while 8’ drop tarps are more typical for lumber tarps.
Steel tarps are truck tarps designed to cover loads of steel during transport. Specifically, they’re made to haul stacked steel, not steel coils, and they’re a cost-effective method of meeting the safety requirements for hauling steel loads.
Steel tarps and lumber tarps are both typically made of heavy duty 18 oz vinyl, and they’re both used to cover loads on flatbed trucks.
Some steel tarps are made of lighter-weight materials, like our steel tarp made of 14oz vinyl and parachute fabric. These tarps are easier to fold, but they’re less resistant to cuts and tears from getting caught on the steel. So, it’s good to use corner and edge protectors when you’re using steel tarps with parachute fabric.
- Machinery Tarps
Machinery tarps are truck tarps designed specifically to cover machinery and equipment loads. Machinery and equipment can come in odd shapes and sizes, making it a challenge to completely cover to load, or to deal with excess fabric if the machine is covered with a larger tarp.
Beyond that, machinery often has sharp edges, which can cause wear-and-tear on tarps over time, or even cut into the tarps if the equipment moves abruptly. Machinery tarps are made to fit equipment precisely, so there is less routine tension on equipment edges that can lead to this kind of tearing.
Machinery tarps are made of heavy-duty 18 oz vinyl, have two rows of D-ring stitched into the seams for precise securement, and are highly customizable.
- Parachute Tarps
Parachute tarps are a popular variety of truck tarp that blends the durability and resilience of 18 oz vinyl with the lightweight flexibility of air bag fabric.
Parachute tarps cover the tops of loads with waterproof, 18 oz heavy-duty vinyl, covering these loads from all kinds of potential weather hazards. But the sides of the tarp are made of parachute fabric, which is still wear-and-tear resistant.. Since the sides of the loads are less likely to meet inclement weather directly, the weight trade-off is worth it for many haulers.
- Bee Hauling Tarps
Bee hauling tarps, sometimes called bee nets or nursery tarps are the only tarps designed specifically for hauling live cargo. Bees, trees, and other animals and plants can be safely covered by these tarps in transit without risking overheating, dehydration, or suffocation.
The PVC-coated mesh material lets air and water droplets through while still protecting hives from rain and other potentially damaging weather. The four rows of D-rings allow for ultra-precise securement, which prevents bees from escaping and reduces tension of any given point on fragile cargo.
- Smoke Tarps
Smoke tarps, also known as nose tarps, are for truckers hauling loads that could get damaged by the smoke, soot, or exhaust from the truck’s cab. Some loads, like PVC pipes, typically require smoke tarps, and some shippers and receivers require them for all loads. While they’re not necessary every time, it’s good to have them on hand to make a particular client happy.
Smoke traps are smaller than other vinyl tarps because they only need to cover the elements of the load close enough to the exhaust to take damage.
Our smoke tarps can be secured easily because they’ve got brass grommets cinched every two feet and a row of D-rings stitched with protection flaps.
At the end of the day, your tarping needs will change depending on your work and your load. Stocking up on a wide range of tarps is a great way to stay prepared.