Choosing the best flatbed truck tarp for your particular needs might not be as clear cut as you think. Flatbed tarps not only come in a wide variety of sizes, but they are made of different materials and designed very differently depending on their intended use. The best tarp for a dump truck won’t necessarily be the best for covering lumber or steel.
There is no one size fits all type of tarp, which is part of the reason it’s so important to understand exactly what your hauling needs will be.
What are the main types of flatbed truck tarps?
- Lumber tarps. A lumber tarp is designed with flaps at the end to cover the ends of a load, protecting the lumber or other cargo from the elements.
- Steel tarp. A heavy duty steel truck tarp is four-sided without flaps. This design is most efficient for protecting steel rods, sheets, cables, etc.
- Dump truck tarps. Roll tarps for dump trucks are waterproof and designed not only for traditional dump trucks, but also many similar style trucks like grain trucks, grain carts, fertilizer tenders, trailers, and more.
- Smoke Tarps. A smoke tarp serves one very specific purpose: covering the front of a load to protect it from soot, dirt, and especially exhaust smoke. As an added benefit, it can help stop wind from creating an annoying and distracting whistling sound if you are hauling PVC pipes or steel pipes.
While heavy duty lumber and steel flatbed truck tarps often come in 16×27, 20×27, or 24×27 configurations, you’ll find that heavy duty smoke tarps are only 10×12 in many cases. A dump truck tarp looks much different from both of these configurations coming in at 9’10×41 or 10’6×42.
Tarp tie downs
Just as with tarps, there is also a huge variety of tie downs and other accessories for use with truck tarps. Equipment for securing a tarp can be broken down into a few overall categories:
Rubber tarp straps. These heavy duty tarp tie downs are available in both natural rubber and ethylene propylene diene monomer – M-class (EPDM) rubber. A natural rubber tarp strap is best for cold, Notherrn areas because the rubber won’t crack, tear, or become brittle even in freezing temps. An EPDM rubber tarp strap is best for hot climates as they stand up well to extended sun exposure.
Shock cord. Also called bungee cord or elastic straps, shock cord is a stretchy rope with a heavy duty polyester fabric covering a rubber core. Shock cord is an excellent choice if you need to make a custom length strap for flatbed truck tarps, simply by adding a coated bungee hook.
Rubber rope. Like a shock cord tie down, rubber rope can also be cut to length to make custom tie down straps. It’s available in a hollow style for lightweight applications or a solid core for more heavy-duty jobs.
Corner protectors have a variety of names in the industry: strap protectors, corner guards, etc. A plastic corner protector for tarps has a rounded edge, allowing the tarp to curve around the edge rather than pulled tightly over the sharp corner.