Truck Tarps: Types, Benefits and Applications

Tarpaulins, or tarps as they are often called, are used in a wide variety of settings and industry. In the agricultural industry for instance, you can see tarps being used as covers for grain bunkers or livestock shelter. In the industrial sector, it is pretty common to see tarps being used as wall dividers or to cover items while in storage. In trucking and logistics, tarps are mostly used to cover the items being transported while on the road.

Covering truck beds and the items on them is just one of the many uses of tarps. They are used to cover the load on the truck, thereby protecting it from rain, sun, or snow and at the same time help to secure the load and keep them from falling off the truck bed. Sure, there are box vans or box trucks available, but there are certain items that only flatbed trucks are capable of transporting (e.g. lumber, construction materials, etc.) And when it comes to protecting the load on a flatbed truck, truckers generally rely on a good quality truck tarp.

Like many other items made from tarpaulins like factory dividers, bunker tarps, shelter cover and others truck tarps also come in different variants. More often than not, these classifications are based on the material the tarp is made from or the specific type of load it protects. However, most truckers generally classify tarps according to the following types: lumber tarps, steel tarps, and mesh tarps and each brings with it a certain versatility and suitability for hauling a specific type of cargo.

Type of Truck Tarps: Lumber Tarps

As the name suggests, lumber tarps are used by truckers who are involved in transporting lumber. They are generally made of heavy-duty material like Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) or Polyethylene (PE), which are pretty much the same materials used in making other tarpaulin products like dam liners, temporary storage structures, and others. Obviously, these types of truck tarps are used to protect lumber from outdoor elements during transport; however, they can also be used for bulky and high-rising loads, and cargo that needs plenty of overhang.

Lumber tarps are designed quite differently from other types of truck tarps. In general, they are shaped and sized in such a way that that they are able to accommodate loads which can rise as high as eight feet above the truck bed.  Lumber tarps are usually sold in sets of two or three pieces, though they can also be bought individually. Lumber tarps, like other tarpaulin products (e.g. livestock shade structures, factory dividers, etc.) can also be custom-made, which is a perfect solution for truckers who have specific requirements and needs.

As mentioned earlier, lumber tarps can be made from different materials. Regardless of which material you choose, be sure to go for materials that are durable but not overly heavy. The weight of the material is an important factor to consider as the tarpaulin must be applied and tied down manually, and a heavy tarp is more challenging and more time-consuming to work with.

Type of Truck Tarps: Steel Tarps

As can be gleaned from its name, steel tarps are specifically made to cover steel products like pipes, cables, sheets, and others. Their design and the waterproof materials used in constructing the tarp should offer excellent performance when it comes to keeping the load dry and free from corrosion and rust. Most tarps used in hay sheds and temporary warehousing also have waterproof features as it is a necessity in keeping the bales of hay dry.

Like lumber tarps, steel tarps are also made from heavy-duty materials but are designed rather differently. One difference that you’ll immediately notice is that a steel tarp tends to be same in length as a lumber tarp but smaller in width. This is mainly because steel tarps are only intended to cover shorter and low-profile loads (loads that do not rise too high from the surface of the flatbed). A typical steel tarp is four-sided without flaps, have grommets and D-rings built in, and are generally secured with bungee straps.

Types of Truck Tarps: Mesh Tarps

One of the most commonly used truck tarps are heavy-duty mesh tarpaulins and are mostly seen on dump trucks and dump truck trailers. Unlike lumber tarps and steel tarps, mesh tarps aren’t made of solid materials, which means that they won’t be able to protect your cargo when it rains while you’re on the road. That said, mesh tarps are only used for covering cargo that isn’t damaged by moisture such as small rocks, gravel and sand. Aside from not being waterproof, truckers also have other issues with mesh tarps. For instance, mesh tarps tend to get snagged on debris such as nails or any protruding object in the truck.

Despite those issues, many truckers still use these types of truck tarps. They are lightweight which makes them easier to deploy and collect, durable, and available in a wide variety of colors. The holes in the mesh tarp also allows from ‘breathability’ which makes mesh tarps perfect for other applications like poultry curtains (although it can be rather challenging to find such a curtain in stores that sell poultry supplies in Australia).

For more information, contact us at Polytex today!

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