What You Need to Know About Flatbed Trailer Tarps

Flatbed Trailer Tarp

The purpose of flatbed trailer tarps is to shield cargo from man-made and natural elements, as well as wear and tear during transport. Tarps are therefore waterproof and are made of kevlar, vinyl or canvas. For additional protection, they have polyethylene coating to keep materials safe and secure.

There are numerous types of flatbed trailer tarps. Using the proper type of tarp ensures that a haul is successful and problem-free. See below how the types of tarps and their names are dependent on how they will be used. 

  • Lumber tarp is mostly large and contains an end flap to cover lumber units’ end part. These are built using polyester coated in PVC and are available in varying weights. They come in 18oz midweight tarps and 14 oz tarps. The latter is evidently easier to carry than the former.
  • Steel tarps are four-sided tarps ideal for low-profile steel loads. These are specially made flap-free to allow rods, steel cables, and sheets to be hauled efficiently. Steel tarps are also made from PVC-coated polyester.
  • Smoke tarps, also known as nose tarps,  are specially made for flatbeds and are sized 10’x12’.It covers the load’s front in order to shield it from dirt, exhaust smoke, and soot. Its small size makes it ideal for protecting small cargo loads.
  •  Coil tarps are utilized to maintain the dryness and tightness of steel coils. The upper half of coil tarps are specially made to match the round shape of the coils in order for it to easily slip on. It also removes the need for additional material to be strapped down or folded prior to hauling.
  • Machinery tarps can be likened to bigger versions of steel tarps. Their purpose is to shield machinery from the harsh elements as well as road debris. They are ideally used for irregular-sized cargo such as manufacturing equipment.
  • Three-piece tarps essentially distribute the weight on three tarps. This is used to cover a full load on a conventional flatbed trailer. A load becomes easier to physically handle if there is less weight for each piece.
  • Roll-style tarps are made for trailers, dump trucks, hopper trailers, grain carts, and fertilizer tenders

Most semi-truck flatbed trailer tarps are made with fabric abrasion strips located along the tarp’s length just behind the D-rings. These serve as protection at the specific points where abrasion could occur. The strips’ purpose is for additional durability and security.


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Flatbed Trailer Tarps


How to Properly Tarp a Flatbed Trailer

No matter how sturdy a tarp is, it can only be effective if it is used properly. The following are the correct ways to tarp a load on a trailer.

  • Lift the rolled tarp atop the load and place it in the center. 
  • When covering a load, begin from the back of your cargo load.
  • Unroll the tarp towards the back. Make sure the tarp’s centrefold remains in the middle of the load
  • When the tarp is completely unrolled, pull the tarp’s bottom in a manner where it completely covers the load’s back. The tarp must also touch the flatbed trailer.
  • Unfold the tarp on each side while ensuring that it remains in the middle of the load
  • Cover any cargo that remains exposed by using numerous tarps
  • When all the flatbed trailer tarps are unrolled and the entire cargo is covered, fold or roll up any excess tarp. Using bungee cords, the D-rings must be secured
  • Irregularly shaped loads can benefit from having additional tie-down straps placed over the tarp in order for the latter to remain secure


What to Do When a Tarp Needs to Be Repaired

There may be instances when a tarp gets damaged and needs to be repaired. This happens even to the best or sturdiest tarp. Don’t fret as there is a way to properly repair a tarp. The following are steps you can take to fix a torn tarp.

  • Start by measuring the tear and acquiring a patch that is bigger than it. You can use an old tarp to get patches from.
  • Take the torn tarp, place it on a flat surface and smoothen it. The tarp’s underside must be facing up. (It is best to patch the tarp’s underside as it will decrease the probability of the patch peeling off because its edges are not exposed to nature’s harsh elements
  • Put a thick layer of adhesive on one side of the patch and position it on the tear
  • Press the patch onto the tear and smoothen it using a roller. Make sure you remove air bubbles present.
  • Let the patch dry for at least three hours


Related article: 6 Simple Ways to be a Healthier Truck Driver in 2019



The proper maintenance of flatbed trailer tarps requires not only their repair and appropriate use, but they also need to be cleaned regularly. Inspecting tarps for possible wear and tear is a necessity if you want to prolong their use. Lengthening its product life gives you more mileage for your money.

It is advisable that your tarp is cleaned every three to six months. Doing so helps remove any build-up of mud, dirt, grime, mildew or mould. All these unnecessarily add to a tarp’s weight. They could also trap chemicals that could stay in a tarp’s protective cover and cause degradation. To know more contact Toronto Trailers today!

One thought on “What You Need to Know About Flatbed Trailer Tarps

  1. It was really helpful when you said to use numerous tarps to cover exposed cargo. My brother was telling me a couple of weeks ago about how he is needing to look into getting tarps for his trucking company in a couple of weeks, and he wants to make sure that he knows how to use them properly. I’ll make sure to pass these tips along to him once he finds a place to get trucking tarps from.

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