Finding the Right Semi Truck Tarp
Truck tarps are not all created equal – and since their job is to protect your cargo against any harsh elements you may encounter on the road, including rain, snow, wind, sun, even road debris – choosing the right one for the job can mean the difference between a successful haul and a trouble-filled trip.
Flatbed Tarp Construction
Your first consideration should be construction – can the tarp material stand up to the elements?
All US Cargo Control tarps are made from a durable, tear-resistant PVC-coated polyester water-resistant material. It provides strong UV- and mildew-resistance, and is available in two different weights (14 oz. and 18 oz.).
The 18 oz. weight is considered heavy-duty – it can handle more stress and has increased tear resistance. The 14 oz. weight is lighter, making it easier to handle.
Many USCC tarps also have reinforced edges. These are comprised of an abrasion-resistant pad beneath each D-ring and provide added protection when securing the tarp using S-hooks, Rubber Tarp Straps, and other tie-downs.
Semi Trailer Tarp Types
Your second consideration should be the type of tarp - each style is best suited to different applications.
We offer several different options, including Lumber Tarps, Steel Tarps, Machinery Tarps, Smoke and Nose Tarps, Roll & Dump Truck Tarps, Coil Tarps, and 3-piece tarps – watch the video below or keep reading to learn more about what each is used for.
A flatbed lumber tarp is a versatile load tarp intended for specialized lumber hauling, but it can also be used as an all-purpose cover to protect a variety of loads like hay, pallets, and other bulky cargo. These are generally larger tarps, and they feature a rear flap to cover the ends of the lumber units.
Steel tarps are like lumber tarps without the end flap. These flatbed trucking tarps are designed to protect steel rods, sheets, cables, and other low-profile materials.
Machinery tarps are designed for covering and securing large, irregular-sized loads such as manufacturing or machine equipment during transport. This style can also be used to cover wood or steel products such as plywood, cables, rods, or sheets.
Smoke and Nose Tarps
Smoke tarps are smaller than lumber and steel tarps – they are used to cover the front of a load to protect it from exhaust smoke, dirt, and soot. They also do a great job of shielding the cargo from bugs and road debris.
Roll and Dump Truck Tarps
Roll tarps quickly and reliably contain payloads and create a safer work environment for drivers, especially those in the construction and agricultural industries. A dump truck tarp is great for grain trucks, grain carts, wagons, dump trucks, fertilizer tenders, and hopper trailers.
Coil tarps, also known as coil bags, are commonly used to protect steel or aluminum coils or other round-shaped items during transport. The upper half of the tarp is fitted to match the coil’s rounded shape, allowing it to slip on more easily. This also limits the amount of excess material that would need to be folded and strapped down before hauling.
A three-piece tarp splits the weight over three tarps instead of two when covering a full load on a standard flatbed trailer. Less weight per piece makes for easier physical handling. You can even use each section individually if needed.
Custom Tarp Options
Looking for something we don’t have listed on our site? We manufacture custom cargo tarps for flatbed trailers and will work with you to design a tarp that will meet your exact specifications. Use our custom tarp request form or call our product specialist team for more information.
Trailer Tarp Usage and Care
Tarping a load properly is an important and inexpensive way to help protect your tarp investment. Minimizing tarp abrasion from the load will help extend its life. Tarp Straps, Rubber Rope, Shock Cord, and Bungee Cords are the most common methods for securing tarps, but the best choice will depend on your specific application. For more information on the different types of tie-downs, see our Bungee Cord & Rubber Tarp Straps page.
Our 1/4" Diamond Braid Polyester Rope is also a popular option because the strong braided configuration is ideal for lacing through the tarp's grommets and the rub rails or hooks on the trailer. Browse all of our rope.
Protecting tarps from sharp edges and corners on cargo is easy with corner protectors. The rounded corners of the durable, flexible plastic protectors allow for the tarp to curve along the edge of a load rather than be pulled tightly.
How to Repair a Truck Tarp
Even the toughest heavy-duty truck tarps can sustain damage from wind speeds if not secured properly to the truck. Our truck repair kits are available in three different colors:
To use a repair kit, begin by cutting a patch slightly larger than the tear. Smooth the tarp on a flat surface, with the underside of the tarp facing up. (Patching the underside will reduce the chance the patch will peel off, since the edges will not be exposed to wind and weather.) Apply a heavy layer of adhesive to one side of the patch and place over the tear. Using a roller, smooth and remove any air bubbles. Allow three hours to dry.
If you have an old tarp, you could also use that to cut patches and simply purchase the HH-66 Vinyl Cement separately. We also carry large rolls of 18 oz. PVC-Coated Tarp Material, which can be useful for larger repairs.
How to Clean a Truck Tarp
In addition to regular inspections, keeping a semi truck flatbed tarp clean and in good working condition can lengthen the life of the product. Clean your tarp every three to six months to remove the build-up of dirt, mud, grime, mold, and mildew. These elements can add to the overall weight of the tarp, as well as trap chemicals that will degrade the protective coating over time. Use a mixture of soap and water and scrub with a brush (try using a long push broom). Avoid using stronger cleansing soaps or solutions – they can weaken a tarp over time. For step-by-step instructions, see How to Clean a Truck Tarp.
Tarp Bulk Pricing & Quantities
Our sales team is always happy to create custom price quotes for bulk quantities of tarps, tarp tie-downs, and any other equipment you need to run your flatbed hauling service safely and efficiently.
Flatbed Starter Kits
If you’re a new driver or looking to expand your fleet, our flatbed starter kits are a great value and an easy way to pick up all the essentials (tarps, tie-downs, etc.) in a convenient equipment package. Options are available for lumber or steel applications. There’s also a deluxe starter kit which includes both lumber and steel tarps.
More Flatbed Products and Accessories
Different truck tarps will require different equipment and accessories. We carry all the flatbed truck equipment you need and take pride in having the best customer service in the trucking equipment industry. Available products include transport chain & binders, winch straps, ratchet straps, winches, and much more.
Not Sure Which Truck Tarp is Right for You?
Contact our team of product specialists today online or on the phone with any product questions or help to place an order. We’ll work together to get you the right flatbed trailer products for your application.