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How to Choose the Right Poly Tarp Size and Thickness

When it comes to protecting your belongings from the elements or creating a temporary shelter, heavy duty poly tarps are an excellent choice. These versatile and durable covers can be used for a wide range of applications, including camping, construction, gardening, and more. However, choosing the right size and thickness for your poly tarp is crucial to ensure its effectiveness and longevity. In this article, we will guide you through the factors to consider when selecting the perfect poly tarp for your needs.

Understanding Poly Tarp Size

Understanding Poly Tarp Size

1. Assess Your Coverage Area

Before purchasing a poly tarp, it's important to determine the size of the area you need to cover. Measure the length and width of the space, whether it's a vehicle, equipment, or an outdoor structure. By knowing the dimensions, you can select a tarp that will adequately protect and cover the entire area.

2. Account for Overhang and Securement

Consider the need for overhang when choosing the size of your poly tarp. Having extra material extending beyond the coverage area ensures better protection against wind, rain, and other weather elements. Additionally, take into account the securement method you plan to use. If you need to tie down the tarp or use grommets, make sure the size allows for proper fastening.

3. Check Standard Tarp Sizes

Poly tarps are available in various standard sizes, including 6x8 feet, 10x12 feet, and 20x30 feet. These dimensions are commonly found and can be a convenient choice if they match your requirements. However, don't limit yourself to these sizes if they don't suit your specific needs. Also, unless specified otherwise, the Industry standard for tarps is Cut Size. Meaning the finished size is about 6 inches or 3-5% shorter after the edges are folded and hemmed.

4. Consider Custom-Made Tarps

If your coverage area doesn't fit standard tarp sizes, consider opting for custom-made tarps. Many manufacturers offer the flexibility to create tarps tailored to your exact dimensions. While custom tarps may cost slightly more, they ensure a perfect fit and maximize the protection of your belongings.

Evaluating Poly Tarp Thickness

Evaluating Poly Tarp Thickness

1. Understand Tarp Thickness Measurement

Poly tarp thickness is usually measured in mils, which represent one-thousandth of an inch. The higher the mil count, the thicker and more durable the tarp will be. Thicker tarps offer enhanced protection and longevity.

2. Identify Your Intended Use

Consider the purpose of your poly tarp to determine the appropriate thickness. If you need a tarp for light-duty applications like covering furniture or providing temporary shade, a thinner tarp with a lower mil count, such as 6 or 8 mils, may suffice. On the other hand, heavy-duty tasks like construction site coverage or protecting equipment from extreme weather conditions may require tarps with a higher mil count, typically ranging from 10 to 20 mils.

3. Account for Durability and Longevity

Thicker tarps tend to be more durable and resistant to tearing and punctures. If you anticipate rough handling, frequent use, or exposure to harsh environments, investing in a thicker tarp will ensure its longevity and offer better protection over time.

4. Consider Weight and Maneuverability

Keep in mind that thicker tarps are generally heavier and can be more challenging to handle and maneuver. If you require a tarp that you can easily transport or install, consider a balance between thickness and weight to meet your practical needs.


Choosing the right size and thickness for your poly tarp is essential to ensure optimal protection and durability. Assess your coverage area, account for overhang and securement, and explore both standard and custom-made options. Evaluate the intended use of the tarp, consider durability and longevity, and find a balance between thickness and weight. By taking these factors into consideration, you can select a poly tarp that will meet your specific needs and provide reliable protection for your belongings.


What is the method for measuring the coverage area of my poly tarp?

To determine the coverage area, simply figure out the length and width of the space you wish to cover by employing a tape measure or ruler.

Is it suitable to utilize a poly tarp for camping purposes?

Indeed, poly tarps are commonly employed for camping endeavors. They serve as effective shelters, safeguard camping equipment, and ensure the dryness of your belongings during outdoor adventures.

What are the benefits of utilizing custom-made tarps?

Custom-made tarps offer the advantage of a precise fit for your specific coverage area. They guarantee optimal protection and eradicate the necessity for excessive material or inadequate coverage.

Are thicker tarps always superior?

Thicker tarps generally exhibit increased durability and provide enhanced protection. Nonetheless, the choice of thickness should be based on the intended usage of the tarp and the specific requirements of your application.

How can I secure my poly tarp?

Poly tarps often feature built-in grommets or reinforced edges to facilitate securement. You can utilize bungee cords, ropes, or straps to fasten the tarp securely and prevent displacement or being carried away by the wind.

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Victoria Addington

- November 22, 2023

It’s good to know that thicker tarps are typically stronger and more resilient to tearing and punctures. Purchasing one would seem to be advantageous in order to guarantee its longevity and provide improved protection over time. I will absolutely share this with my uncle, who intends to go into the trucking business, so he keeps it in mind. I’ll also look for stores that can help him get tarps.

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