All you need to know about tarpaulins

Tarpaulins are a common sight in our factories, our farms and on our roads, where they cover the sides of lorries or the tops of flatbed trailers. It’s easy to take this most versatile of materials for granted, but at Cunningham Covers it’s our passion and our livelihood. We’d like to share with you our extensive knowledge so that before you come to place an order with us, you have a good idea of what you need and what to ask for.

What do you need?

Are you looking for a sandpit cover or a huge, UV and salt-resistant industrial tarpaulin to protect your portside vehicles and equipment? If you know the application you need the cover for, you can easily work out the type of tarp you need – there are pool covers, insulated tarps, fence tarps and even quadbike covers to choose from. If you’re still stuck, though, give us a call and we can help you.

Tarp terms

Here’s the various terms, types and measurements you’ll no doubt end up talking about when you come to order.


We measure thickness in millimetres and tarps usually range from 0.10mm to 0.40mm. The thicker the tarp, the heavier the duty. If you’re after something for use in the home – maybe to cover up conservatory furniture in the winter – you’ll need thinner material. When you need a cover for a tractor, for example, you’ll need it to be much thicker.

The mesh count

This is another way to tell how strong a tarp is – the higher the count, the stronger it is. The mesh count is also a good way to judge the thickness, the weight and the level of protection a tarpaulin offers.

Types of materials

There’s also different types of material that make up tarpaulins, each having a particular purpose.

UV-resistant tarpaulin

This type comes in many colours and protects the machines, buildings or crops stored underneath it from the harsh rays of the sun.

Blue tarpaulin

This is one of the most commonly-seen tarps and it’s popular for its water-resistance and reinforced edges and corners. These can last for years.

Black mesh

This tarp is great for patios and other outdoor structures like climbing frames. It’s also good for protecting gardens from the sun, wind and frost.

Truck tarps

These heavy-duty tarps have reinforced D-rings and are used on flatbed trailers.

A fence tarp

Usually black or green, these tarps often protect privacy at construction sites.


These tarps have insulating material on one side, with polyethylene on the other.

Pool tarps

These are 100% waterproof and protect the water from leaves and debris.

The materials

You also need to know the best material for you, although, as ever, we can advise.


This is a plastic-based polymer. It’s cheap, flexible, tough and waterproof.


This close-woven tarp is made of either man-made or natural fibres and it can soak up spills.

Mesh tarpaulin

This is made from nylon threading and it lets wind and water flow through with a little resistance. It’s often used for reducing the speed of wind through an area.

All these factors need to be taken into account, as well as your particular needs, when you order your tarpaulins and covers from us.