Any tarp is going to degrade over time. Heavy-duty tarps tend to last much longer than a poly tarp. Eventually, a vinyl tarp reaches its end-of-life.
Cleaning a tarp after use is important. Making sure it’s dry before you fold it and put it into storage is also crucial. If a tarp is damaged, fix it as quickly as you can. A small rip can be easily fixed, but it gets harder to properly repair it if it extends to a foot-long tear. Missing grommets leave holes that can expand. Fix a missing grommet quickly and prevent further damage.
Different types of tarps require different repairs. You won’t repair a clear PVC tarp the same way you’d repair a canvas tarp. Learn more about how to repair tarps to ensure they last a long time.
Call A Professional
We highly recommend calling a professional to repair your tarp for you, especially if you have worked with professionals who will repair your tarp as part of their service to you.
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Techniques for Repairing Different Types of Tarps
What are the best methods for fixing a tarp? The repairs you make depend on the tarp itself. Most tarps are poly, mesh, Iron Horse, vinyl, or canvas.
1. Canvas Tarp Repairs
What kind of canvas tarp is being repaired? An indoor canvas tarp that’s used as a drop cloth for painting or when doing interior renovations can quickly have a rip or tear sew by hand. A canvas tarp is the only tarp that you can sew, but you need to have a heavy-duty thread for mending rips in canvas. The thread needs to stand up to water, sun, and temperature changes. You don’t want to use a thin thread that will break down quickly. UV-treated polyester and marine thread are your best choices.
A heavy-duty sewing machine will help with canvas tarp repairs. You can sew the rip or tear by hand, preferably with a sailmaker’s needle, but you need to keep your stitches close. The best stitch to use is a flat felled seam. You’ll know this stitch best from a pair of jeans where you get two rows of stitching along the seam.
You may need a canvas tarp repair kit. This kit includes a piece of canvas that’s glued securely over a hole or uneven tear using an all-purpose tarp cement. If you’re dealing with punctures or holes, look for a patch kit instead of leaving an uneven seam in the tarp.
Once you’ve repaired a canvas tarp, use Canvak to add a new coating of water-resistant wax preservative on tarps that are used outside. That helps ensure its water-repellent qualities. Make sure the Canvak coating is over the thread to help the thread repel water, too.
2. Mesh, Vinyl, and Poly Tarp Repairs
Duct tape isn’t ideal, so avoid the temptation to use duct tape to fix your poly tarp. Duct tape is waterproof, but it doesn’t always stand up to months of rain, snow, and ice. Only very specific brands are UV resistant. Duct tape is usually only water-resistant versus waterproof.
Instead, look into tarp tape. Tarp tape is an 18-ounce vinyl tape that’s coated with a strong adhesive that stands up to the weather. Tarp tape is also treated to be UV resistant to stand up to the sun’s intense rays. For the best bond, use tarp tape on the front and back of the tarp where there’s a rip or hole.
Tarp tape will also help with repairs on a clear PVC or mesh tarp. It is important to realize though that the repair will be visible. If you won’t be able to tolerate having a solid piece of tape over a hole in a mesh tarp or on a clear tarp, you may need to replace the tarp instead.
Your other option is vinyl cement. HH-66 Vinyl Cement is designed to patch tears and holes in vinyl coated and vinyl laminated tarps with a waterproof, weather-resistant bond. This vinyl cement is fast setting and dries within two or three minutes.
Repairs made with vinyl cement stand up to extreme cold and hot days. Brush it around a hole or rip and place a patch over it. Check the bond after a couple of minutes to ensure the patch has adhered correctly. You can also use vinyl cement to seal a seam that’s opening up.
3. Repairs for Missing or Loose Grommets
If a grommet has loosened or is missing, a grommet repair kit is essential. Cut a hole in the fabric using the hole cutter and hammer. Place the wood block to have a hard surface that won’t damage your table or workbench. Position this hole away from the hole from the missing grommet to ensure the strength of the replaced grommet.
Once the hole is cut, place the included anvil behind the hole you’ve created. Fit the back part of the grommet through the back of the hole. Place the front side of the grommet over it on the other side of the tarp.
Place the grommet setting tool over the front of the new grommet and use the hammer to secure the two parts together. To prevent mistakes, take your time and make sure the grommet pieces are properly aligned. Consider practicing on a scrap piece of old tarp first to learn how to position the grommet parts together.