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The Difference Between Vinyl, Poly and Canvas Tarps

When it comes to choosing the right tarp for your needs, it can be overwhelming to navigate the various materials and types of tarps available on the market. Three common options are vinyl, canvas, and poly tarps. While all three are used for similar purposes, such as protecting items from the elements or creating temporary shelters, they have distinct differences that can make them more suitable for certain applications. In this blog, we will explore the differences between vinyl, canvas, and poly tarps.

Material and Durability

Vinyl tarps are made from Vinyl coated polyester (PVC) material, which is similar to a rubberized sheet, and makes them highly durable, strong, and resistant to water, mildew, and UV rays. They are commonly used for heavy-duty applications such as construction sites, transportation, and industrial settings, where they can withstand tough conditions.

Canvas tarps, are commonly made from cotton or polyester. They are treated to resist mildew and are known for their breathability, allowing air to flow through the material. However, they are not a waterproof material such as vinyl tarps. Canvas tarps  are treated with a water-resistant coating to be used in wet conditions. While canvas tarps are less durable than vinyl tarps and may not hold up well in extreme weather or heavy use, they are still popular for outdoor applications, camping, and equipment covers.

Poly tarps are made from polyethylene, which makes them lightweight, waterproof, and resistant to tearing and UV rays. They are commonly used for temporary covers, landscaping, and construction. While they may not be as durable as vinyl tarps, they are more affordable and offer waterproof protection for many applications.

Weight and Flexibility

Vinyl tarps are often heavier than canvas and poly tarps, due to their thickness and material weight. While this can make them more difficult to handle and maneuver, it also makes them ideal for applications where weight and bulk are not a concern. For example, vinyl tarps may be used to cover heavy machinery, Flatbed truck hauling, or extreme weather conditions.


The cost of vinyl, canvas, and poly tarps can vary depending on the size and thickness of material. Generally, vinyl tarps are more expensive than canvas and poly tarps due to their superior durability and longevity. However, the cost is often justified when  you need a tarp that can withstand extreme weather and heavy use.


Canvas tarps are generally more affordable than vinyl tarps but may require more frequent replacements over time. When it comes to cost, canvas tarps are generally less expensive than vinyl but more expensive than poly tarps. This is because canvas is made of natural fibers, such as cotton or polyester, which are more costly to produce and process than the synthetic materials used in poly tarps. In addition, canvas tarps are often treated to make them water resistant and resistant to mildew, which further increases their cost. Poly tarps, on the other hand, are made of lower cost materials such as polyethylene, and are often less durable than canvas tarps. Therefore, the cost difference between canvas and poly tarps depends on the specific needs of the user and the intended use of the tarp.


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