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How to Choose the Right Tarp for Boating and Marine Uses

Choosing the right tarp for boating and marine uses is critical to ensuring the protection and longevity of your equipment and vessels. With the myriad of options available, it can be daunting to determine which tarp best suits your needs. This comprehensive guide will delve into the key factors to consider when selecting a tarp for marine applications, ensuring you make an informed decision.

Understanding the Importance of Marine Tarps

Marine tarps are specifically designed to withstand the harsh conditions of the marine environment. They protect boats, gear, and other equipment from the damaging effects of UV rays, saltwater, and inclement weather. By investing in a high-quality tarp, you can extend the life of your boat and equipment, saving money on repairs and replacements.

Types of Marine Tarps

Types of Marine Tarps

Polyethylene Tarps

Polyethylene tarps, commonly known as poly tarps, are popular due to their affordability and durability. They are made from woven polyethylene fabric and are coated with a polyethylene layer for added water resistance. These tarps are UV-resistant and provide excellent protection against rain and wind.

Canvas Tarps

Canvas tarps are made from heavy-duty cotton fabric, making them highly durable and breathable. They are ideal for covering boats and equipment that need protection from the elements while allowing airflow to prevent mildew and mold. Canvas tarps are treated with waterproofing agents to enhance their water resistance.

Vinyl Tarps

Vinyl tarps are among the most robust options available. Made from vinyl-coated polyester, these tarps are waterproof, UV-resistant, and resistant to abrasions and chemicals. They are perfect for long-term use in marine environments, providing superior protection for boats and equipment.

Key Features to Consider

Material Quality

The quality of the tarp material is paramount. Look for tarps made from high-density polyethylene, heavy-duty canvas, or vinyl-coated polyester. These materials offer superior strength and durability, ensuring your tarp can withstand harsh marine conditions.

Water Resistance

A good marine tarp should be highly water-resistant to protect your boat and equipment from rain and seawater. Poly tarps and vinyl tarps are particularly effective at repelling water, while treated canvas tarps also provide reliable water resistance.

UV Protection

Constant exposure to sunlight can cause tarps to degrade over time. Choose a tarp with UV inhibitors to protect it from the damaging effects of UV rays. This feature is especially important if your boat or equipment will be stored outdoors for extended periods.

Mildew and Mold Resistance

In a marine environment, tarps are often exposed to moisture, creating a breeding ground for mildew and mold. Opt for tarps with mildew and mold-resistant properties to prevent the growth of these harmful organisms.

Reinforced Grommets

Grommets are essential for securing your tarp to your boat or equipment. Ensure the tarp you choose has reinforced grommets made from rust-resistant materials like brass or stainless steel. This feature enhances the tarp's durability and ease of use.

Size and Fit

Choosing the correct size is crucial for effective coverage. Measure your boat or equipment accurately and select a tarp that provides ample coverage with some extra material for secure fastening. Custom-sized tarps are also available for a perfect fit.

Application-Specific Considerations

Boat Covers

When selecting a tarp for covering your boat, consider the size, shape, and storage conditions. For boats stored outdoors, opt for a heavy-duty vinyl tarp with UV protection and waterproofing. For indoor storage, a breathable canvas tarp may be sufficient.

Equipment Protection

For marine equipment such as engines, fishing gear, and sails, choose tarps that offer easy access and flexibility. Poly tarps are a versatile choice for protecting various types of equipment, while vinyl tarps provide superior protection for valuable items.

Dock Covers

Dock covers need to be durable and weather-resistant. Vinyl tarps are ideal for this application due to their robustness and ability to withstand harsh weather conditions. Ensure the tarp is securely fastened to prevent it from blowing away in strong winds.

Maintenance Tips for Marine Tarps

Proper maintenance is essential to prolong the life of your marine tarp. Follow these tips to keep your tarp in top condition:

Regular Cleaning

Clean your tarp regularly to remove dirt, salt, and debris. Use mild soap and water, and avoid harsh chemicals that can damage the material. Rinse thoroughly and allow the tarp to dry completely before storing it.

Inspect for Damage

Regularly inspect your tarp for signs of wear and tear. Look for holes, tears, and weakened areas, especially around the grommets and seams. Repair any damage promptly to prevent it from worsening.

Proper Storage

Store your tarp in a cool, dry place when not in use. Fold it neatly and avoid placing heavy objects on top of it. Use a storage bag or cover to protect it from dust and pests.

Benefits of Using Marine Tarps

Using the right tarp for your boating and marine needs offers numerous benefits:

Protection from the Elements

A high-quality marine tarp shields your boat and equipment from rain, sun, wind, and saltwater, preventing damage and extending their lifespan.

Cost Savings

By protecting your investment with a durable tarp, you can save money on costly repairs and replacements. A good tarp pays for itself over time by reducing maintenance costs.


Tarps provide a quick and easy way to cover and protect your boat and equipment. They are lightweight, portable, and simple to use, making them an indispensable tool for boat owners.

Shop Boat Cover & Boat Tarps at Tarp Supply Inc.

Choosing the right tarp for boating and marine uses is a critical decision that can significantly impact the longevity and performance of your boat and equipment. By considering factors such as material quality, water resistance, UV protection, and proper fit, you can select a tarp that meets your specific needs and provides reliable protection in the marine environment.

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