A truck tarp protects your load from the elements, and if you're transporting lumber, metal or other goods for your business, it plays an essential role at protecting your investment and potential profits. A high quality tarp requires an upfront investment, and because of that, you want it to last as long as possible.
Protecting it requires the right supplies. Here are four essentials that can help:
1. Corner Protectors and Cushioning Items
Corner protectors prevent your tarp from rubbing against a sharp corner of your load and wearing down or breaking. They come in a range of sizes and shapes, but typically, they feature a three-dimensional plastic or rubber cap with 90 degree angles crafted into it.
If you're hauling a load full of jagged edges and sharp corners, augment your collection of corner protectors with other cushioning techniques. For example, tie moving blankets or large pieces of flexible foam (old egg crate foam mattress covers work great) over the load before putting on your tarp.
2. Winch Straps
Winch straps allow you to secure your tarp to your bed, and they play a key role in tarp longevity. If your tarp isn't tight, it will blow in the wind, and flapping wildly around while hitting parts of your load repeatedly will ultimately cause the tarp to wear down prematurely.
For this reason, you need winch straps rather than just ropes. Winch straps have a ratcheting feature. This uses mechanical advantage to pull the straps as tight as possible, making them substantially tighter than ropes pulled with human strength alone.
When shopping for straps, look at their breaking strength and working load limit (WLL). The breaking strength or tensile strength is the amount of pressure the straps can endure without snapping, and the WLL is the amount of weight the strap could hold if an item was suspended from it. Talk with the salesperson about the average weights of the loads you carry and which breaking strength your straps need in light of that.
3. Repair Kit
If you use your tarp a lot, it may get damaged or worn, despite your best efforts. As soon as you purchase your tarp, you should get a tarp repair kit. That way you can fix any damage that occurs as fast as possible and prevent it from spreading.
You want a can of vinyl cement, a small foam brush to apply it and a roll of vinyl to use as patching material. Ideally, your vinyl patches should be high-quality UV-resistant and waterproof with a dense sturdy weave. Don't use patches that are substandard to the rest of your tarp.
For repairs that require sewing, have some UV-resistant industrial strength thread on hand. Finally, consider a set of extra grommets, a grommet hole cutter and a grommet inserting die for installing new grommets as needed.
4. Cleaner with UV Protector
So that repairs last as long as possible, you need to ensure you are working with a clean surface. Before sewing or cementing patches onto your tarp, you need to clean it. That ensures no grease, dirt or debris gets between the tarp and the patch and disrupts it from staying in place.
However, cleaning doesn't just help with repairs. It also helps your tarp last longer. On the road, tarps can get full of dirt and grease, and those materials can start to wear down the fibres of the tarp. Ideally, you want a tarp cleaner that is designed to remove grease and has UV protectant in it.
For more tips on which accessories you need to lengthen the lifespan of your truck tarp, consult with a truck tarps expert.