is a large sheet of strong, flexible, water
resistant or waterproof
material, often cloth
such as canvas
or polyester coated with plastics
such as latex
. In some places such as Australia
, and in military slang, a tarp may be known as a hootchie
. Tarps often have reinforced grommets
at the corners and along the sides to form attachment points for rope
, allowing them to be tied down or suspended.
Inexpensive modern tarps are made from woven polyethylene
; this material is so associated with tarps that it has become known as polytarp
The word tarpaulin
originated as a compound
of the words tar
, referring to a tarred
used to cover objects on ships
. By association, according to one theory, sailors
became known as tarpaulins
and eventually tars
When used for a tarp, the word hoochie (also hootchie, hootch, or hooch) comes from the Japanese uchi ("house"). Huts in various parts of rural Asia are known by this or similar names, and during the Korean and Vietnam Wars English-speaking soldiers came to use the word to refer to their own makeshift shelters, which often consisted of little more than a tarp.
In English, the word is normally pronounced "TAR-paul-in". An American pronunciation would be "TAR-pole-in". A colloquial variation adds a vowel sound, resulting in the pronunciation, "tar-POLE-ee-in".
Tarps have multiple uses, including as shelter from the elements (i.e. wind, rain, or sunlight), a ground sheet or a fly in camping, a drop sheet for painting, for protecting the infield of a baseball field, and for protecting objects, such as unenclosed road or rail goods carrying vehicles or wood piles. Such was the demand for tarpaulins by the New South Wales Government Railways, up until 1990, they operated their own Tarpaulin Factory. It is also used on outdoor market stalls to provide some protection from the elements of nature.
Different kinds of tarpaulin
Polytarp is not a traditional fabric, but rather a laminate
of woven and sheet material. The center is loosely woven from strips of polyethylene
plastic, with sheets of the same material bonded to the surface. This creates a fabric-like material that resists stretching well in all directions and is waterproof. When treated against ultraviolet
light, these tarps can last for years exposed to the elements, but non-UV
treated material will quickly become brittle and lose strength and water resistance if exposed to sunlight.
Polytarp has also proven to be a popular source when an inexpensive, water resistant fabric is needed. Many amateur builders of plywood sailboats turn to polytarp for making their sails, as it is inexpensive and easily worked. With the proper type of adhesive tape, it is possible to make a serviceable polytarp sail for a small boat with no sewing.
Perforated PVC tarp
Typically used for large medium advertising
or for protection on scaffoldings. The aim of the perforations (from 20% to 70%) is to reduce wind vulnerability.