What to Look for When Shopping for Truck Tarps

Truck Tarps: What to Look ForIn the market for new truck tarps? Awesome! If you’re in the market for a truck tarpaulin to replace an existing tarp that’s not quite up for the job or you haven’t bought a truck tarp before and you’re not really sure what to look for. You’ve come to the right place.

Throughout this article, we go through all the ins and outs of truck tarpaulins and what to look for when shopping for truck tarps.

We’ll cover:

  • What are truck tarps
  • Truck tarp material
  • The workmanship that goes into a truck tarp
  • The best weight, size and shape for your truck tarp
  • What else to look out for

Let’s get started!

What Are Truck Tarps

For the uninitiated, truck tarps (or tarpaulin if you want to get all technical) are a large piece of material that covers the load on your truck. And just like trucks, they come in a wide range of different sizes, shapes, material and attachment methods. What may work for your buddy and their truck may not necessarily work for you and yours… So, we’re going to go through the finer details of everything truck tarps so you are well informed and when it comes to shopping for your truck tarp, you know exactly what to look for and can make a good choice with your purchase.

Now, let’s talk straight up about the mechanisms used in conjunction with truck tarps. If you’ve got a large semi-trailer truck or road train, you’re most likely going to want a super heavy-duty tarp and a heavy-duty mechanism to go with it. We’re talking a retractable system or wind out mechanism. But if you’ve got a smaller truck or Ute, you won’t need any kind of mechanism really. Just a good quality tarp that you can throw on and tie-down.

In the interest of saving time and getting side-tracked, we’re not going to touch on any type of mechanism in this article but rather focus on the tarp and the qualities you need to look for when shopping for truck tarps.

Truck Tarp Material

Truck Tarp MaterialTarpaulins can be made from a whole range of different materials. Canvas, PVC (Poly Vinyl Chloride), Poly (Polyethylene) and mesh to name a few. But when it comes to truck tarpaulins, not all materials are going to be suitable for all requirements. And knowing what you are going to be using your tarp for will help decide what material is going to be best for you.

If you want to make sure your load is protected from the weather, then a mesh tarp is not going to be up for the job as it’s definitely not waterproof. On the other hand, if you are only looking to cover garden soil or landscaping supplies (anything where it’s neither here nor there if it gets wet) then a mesh tarp may be the perfect material for your requirements.

Another point to make here is the quality and durability of the material. Anyone who has ever owned a truck knows just how important it is to buy good quality durable products and materials for your truck. Otherwise, you’ll be burning through them like sparklers on New Years and forking out money regularly to replace them. So, a truck tarp made of good quality durable material is essential.

With this in mind, you may find you can pick up a stock standard tarp at any leading hardware store, but if you are after long-lasting quality products, you are far better ordering a custom made tarp from specialist tarp suppliers like us.

PVC or Poly are both great materials to use for truck tarpaulins. They are extremely durable and come in various sizes and weights.

PVC (Poly Vinyl Chloride) is made up of a polyester-based fabric that is then coated with a PVC layer on both sides. It’s a popular material as it’s completely synthetic, relatively light-weight and easy to keep clean. Not to mention water-resistant, UV-resistant and super durable.

PVC is slow to ignite if near a flame and can easily be recycled. PVC tarps, however, do have a habit of fading, particularly the darker colours. You may find they begin to fade after approx. 12 months of use, especially if exposed to direct sunlight often. But if well maintained, the fading shouldn’t affect the usability of your tarp in any way.

Poly (polyethylene) is another popular material used in truck tarps. Poly tarps are made of woven strips of polyethylene plastic that has multiple layers and is bonded together to form a plastic fabric-like material. This makes the tarp waterproof and resistant to stretching.

All good poly tarps are treated against a UV light for excellent weather resistance. We’re talking years and years of sun and wind exposure without any effect. On the flip side, non UV treated poly tarps will be cracking up and breaking like peanut brittle in no time. If a poly tarp is not UV treated, it’s best to leave it on the shelf and move on.

Whether you choose a PVC or Poly tarp will depend on your particular requirements and your personal preference, but on the whole, both these materials are a good choice when it comes to truck tarps.

The Workmanship That Goes Into Truck Tarps

Without a doubt, the workmanship of your tarp is something to look at. If your tarp is going to fail through standard use, the workmanship is most likely going to be a factor.

For PVC and Poly tarps, you want to pay close attention to the joins in the material and the finish along the edges of the tarps. Double-stitched edging and joins are far superior to a single stitched finish. Double stitching not only provides a better-looking finish but adds extra strength in the areas that need it the most.

In PVC tarpaulins, along with double stitching, the seams should also be heat welded to guarantee they are completely waterproof and reinforced.

The eyelets are another area where you need to pay close attention to the workmanship. Placing a hole in a tarp is already providing a weak spot, but applying a good quality eyelet to the hole and ensuring it’s been fitted correctly helps to strengthen the area.

On heavy-duty tarps, the addition of reinforced triangle patches at every eyelet point goes a long way to strengthening the area and makes sure that if your tarp is going to fail, it’s not going to be in the eyelet area.

The spacing of the eyelets is also something to consider. The fewer eyelets the fewer weak spots ideally, but on the other hand, the fewer opportunities to fully secure the tarp to your truck. This is where custom made tarpaulins made specifically for your truck and usage is ideal. You can have your tarp custom made with just the right amount of eyelets for optimal use but minimal weak spots.

The Best Weight, Size and Shape for Truck Tarps

Best tarps for trucksNow you know what material to look out for and the minimum requirements regarding workmanship, let’s talk about the size, shape and grade of your truck tarp.

As mentioned earlier, any leading hardware or camping supplier is going to carry standard tarpaulins in standard sizes, but for your truck, having a truck tarp custom made to your specific truck size and shape is the best way to go.

Custom tarpaulin suppliers will be all over the common truck sizes and tarp requirements, but are also able to custom make any special orders. Unlike your leading hardware store, we can offer you specific advice for your particular truck and give you handy tips on what will work for you in relation to the size and shape of your tarp.

As a general rule, measure your tray or trailer and add about a metre to both the length and width. This will allow the tarp to fully cover the area and give you some extra to help secure it.

When considering the grade of your tarp, we can also offer expert advice here too. And expert advice is what you want to seek out when buying a truck tarp, as there is such a huge discrepancy in what is considered lightweight, medium weight and heavy-duty.

With most retailers, the gauge of their heavy-duty tarps are listed at around 190gsm to 205gsm. However, for custom truck tarps, we consider a good heavy-duty tarpaulin to be 230gsm right up to a super heavy-duty of 650gsm.

Again, what you will be using your truck tarp for predominantly will determine what gauge of tarp you should look at buying.

What Else to Look Out For When Shopping for Truck Tarps


Should tarps come with a warranty? Absolutely they should! While all goods sold in Australia are covered by a statutory warranty, the manufacturer of your tarp should also be providing a guarantee on both the material and workmanship of the tarp.

UV protection is arguably one of the most important elements of a tarp, (particularly here in Australia where some days are so hot you can cook an egg on the footpath within seconds) so, if you have had a UV treatment applied to your tarp, a UV guarantee is a must.


How much do truck tarps cost to buy? Well, how long is a piece of string? Tarpaulin costs are as varied as the tarps themselves, so there is absolutely no point in giving you pricing here in this buying guide. However, we will give you this rule of thumb we’ve found when it comes to the cost of truck tarpaulins and that is cheaper often means weaker.

You can pick up a standard size, light-weight tarpaulins to cover your load at a cost-effective price, but if you’re using a light-weight tarp for a heavy-weight project, you’re going to find they won’t last as long and you end up paying more to replace them.

So, the moral of the story is, while the price is an important factor to consider, finding the right tarp for the job you need, is going to save you money in the long run.

Tarp Accessories

While you’re considering your truck tarp and the doing the sums in your head trying to work out the value for money, you may want to consider if they come with any accessories. Although the tarp should be the main focus it’s always nice to get some accessories with it that make your life that little bit easier.

For example, you want to check if ropes come with your tarp as if they don’t then this will be something you need to purchase. Good quality tarps deserve good quality accessories, so go for the quality spliced ropes to use in conjunction with your tarp.

Also, if you are using your tarp for a commercial business, signwriting or brand printing on your tarp would be great too. Consider it an investment in your business… Custom-made printed truck tarps show you mean business, am I right?


Whether you’re in the market for a tarp for your tip truck, tabletop or trailer, do your homework, take into consideration all the points we’ve outlined above and get advice from the professionals (that’s us!) to make sure you are buying smart and receiving the absolute best tarp for your requirements.