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September 30, 2014

Vinyl tarps versus canvas tarps

Pros & Cons of Canvas tarps:


Canvas is breathable since it is not water-proof. Vinyl is 100% water-proof



  • Quality canvas is 50% to 80% more costly than a quality vinyl.
  • Because canvas needs to be sewn, it requires a lot more labour to make a decent tarp. To make a quality canvas tarp, all seams need to be sewn using a combination of two different methods. 1st the seam gets a “prayer stitch” to join the panels. 2nd it is put back through the machine again and top stitched. This 2 stage method helps lessen the amount of water that gets through the seams and also strengthens the seam. Unfortunately it doubles the labour component. Vinyl seams are fusion welded, creating a 100% water-proof seam that is very strong and has no thread to rot or be cut. Sewing actually weakens a tarp, much like the perforations on a cheque stub make it easier to tear away.
  • Repairs to canvas, must also be sewn into place, creating even more needle hole for water to get through. Vinyl repairs are done with a special bonding glue that permanently fuses the repair patch onto the damaged tarp, making it once again 100% water proof.


Water Resistance:

  • Canvas is water-resistant, unlike vinyl, which is water-proof. Water can wick through the fabric of canvas, especially as it ages and soils over time. Also canvas can not be fusion welded like vinyl. All the panels must be sewn together. Sewing creates thousands of needle holes allowing water to get through the tarp.
  • Canvas is a natural fiber that has a coating applied to it to make it water resistant. This coating breaks down more every year, reducing the tarps ability to keep water out. Vinyl retains its 100% water-proof property for its entire lifespan.


Freezing Weather Performance:

  • Because canvas is porous, it holds water in its fibers. This causes a wet canvas tarp to weigh a lot more. This same porous property causes snow and ice to freeze to the tarp, making it very stiff in freezing temperatures. Vinyl does not absorb water at all and so it sheds water, keeping it easy to manage in all temperatures.


Today, canvas is rarely used in industrial tarping, mostly because of the problems detailed above and the fact canvas tarps are classed as a “non-trailerable” tarp, (not for moving vehicles). Vinyl tarp material is the evolution of the old canvas fabric. The technology that goes into quality vinyl has eliminated the shortcomings of canvas. Vinyl is practically imperious to rot and mildew, unlike canvas. Vinyl has also eliminated the need for thread which can be damaged by the sun, rot and abrasion; another weak link in canvas tarps. Fusion welded vinyl tarps have stronger, water proof seams, with no thread to rot or needle holes to let water in. Central Tarp uses only premium Shelter-Rite™ vinyl in all our tarping products.