Traditional tarpaulin materials include canvas, polyester, nylon, polypropylene, or polyethylene. Each material also has its own advantages and disadvantages. Choosing a tarpaulin requires analyzing the specifications that are important to the application.
Properties include water resistance, strength, corrosion resistance, abrasion resistance, and various properties. Waterproofing is important for tarpaulins which must provide protection from rain and moisture. Different tarps offer varying degrees of protection, from little resistance to complete waterproofing.
Strength is the ability of a tarp to hold together when stressed. The strength of the tarp will vary depending on the material and weave design. Strength includes wind resistance, or the ability of a tarp to resist tearing or breaking in strong winds.
Corrosion resistance determines the tarpaulin's ability to resist corrosion from UV rays and foreign substances. Tarps can use special coatings to provide resistance to different types of degradation.
Abrasion resistance is a tarp's resistance to tearing and splitting at points and sharp edges. Canvas and vinyl tend to be more abrasion resistant than polyethylene.