The Many Uses of Tarpaulin

Tarpaulins were developed centuries ago by sailors who impregnated canvas with wax or tar to make it waterproof and then used it to cover stock, as sails, and also as shelter.

It’s still used nowadays for similar purposes and occasionally, even for fun. Let’s have a quick run-down of the most popular applications for this most versatile of materials.


Tarpaulins can be used alongside tents to provide extra shelter. They’re especially useful for communal areas and as temporary cover when it’s raining. They can also be used as ground sheets, with or without a tent over them.

There are lots of different tarpaulins for this sort of use, but if you’re travelling around a bit, the lighter, nylon-based tarps are easier to ferry about, pack and unpack, whilst still being strong.

Polyester tarps are also great because they are good for sun protection, rather than being waterproof. One downside is, however, that they don’t keep insects out, so don’t forget your repellent. Still, you can feel close to nature sleeping under a tarp, as long as nature isn’t too bitey…

Building, DIY and trades  

Tarps are invaluable when there’s any sort of DIY going on – they can be spread out to protect floors and furniture from dust and paint, or as cover for outdoor scaffolding so building projects aren’t held up too much by the rain. There’s many a family that’s spent time under a tarp roof while their house is being remodelled. Many tradespeople use trailer covers made of tarpaulin to protect tools or stock while in transit, too.

One thing to remember though, is that the waterproof nature of most tarpaulins means that water can’t freely evaporate away from anything stored under them. This can be problematic for metal objects which can be prone to rust, so there always needs to be some ventilation.

Keeping firewood dry

Lots of people use tarps to cover their log piles so that the seasoned wood stays dry and ready for use when the temperatures drop. The logs can also be stored on top of a tarp to keep out water from the ground. The wood must be dried and seasoned though, as the tarpaulin can prevent moisture in the wood from evaporating, which can lead to rot.

One solution is to leave two sides of the log pile open to the air so any moisture can move and evaporate away from the wood, leaving it dry and ready to be sparked up on a frosty night.

And here’s the fun part…

A clean, waterproof tarpaulin can be used as a waterslide! Lots of kids have a blast in their very own backyard waterpark if they lay down a waterproof tarp, spray it with water and some bubble bath then simply throw themselves along it. It can be flat or on a slight slope, but it must have some cushions or another form of soft landing at the end as some serious speeds can be achieved.


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