Five Great Uses for Nursery Tarps

If you’ve seen a mesh tarp being used at your local nursery, you have seen what is known as a nursery tarp. Mesh tarps come in various types ranging from Black Mesh Tarps, Dump Truck Mesh Tarps to Multi Mesh Tarps. Nursery tarps differ from other kinds of tarps inasmuch as they aren’t solid pieces of fabric. However, they do have many useful purposes nonetheless. We’ve listed some of those uses below.

The key to making the best use of a nursery tarp is to purchase a high quality product from a brand-name company. The best nursery tarps will be made with the highest quality materials and craftsmanship; many will come with warranties or guarantees of some sort. As long as you make sure you are getting a high-quality product, you should get many years of faithful service.

Without further delay, here are five great uses for nursery tarps:

#1 – Cargo Protection

A nursery tarp is a great way to protect cargo on the back of a truck, as long as protection against moisture is not an issue. One example would be a truck hauling PVC pipe over long distances. The hauler might want to protect the pipe against rocks and other debris even though it would not matter if the product got wet or was exposed to sunshine. The nursery tarp provides adequate protection. As an added bonus, it is also breathable. That way, if any moisture does get into the cargo, it will easily evaporate in the wind.

nursery-tarp

#2 – Privacy Screens

Homeowners love nursery tarps because these provide an easy way to increase privacy without breaking the bank. Nursery tarps come in many different colors, though black is the best for privacy. You can use a nursery tarp to enclose your open-air patio or cover pergolas, provide some privacy around the swimming pool or even create a small, portable enclosure that’s easy to take just about anywhere. Take it to the beach, the park, or anywhere else you want to enjoy the beautiful weather with some privacy.

#3 – Weed Control

Many a gardener swears by nursery tarps for weed control. And in fact, weed control fabric really is nothing more than very small pieces of nursery tarp material. When used properly, this breathable material hinders weed growth by preventing young weeds from sprouting up underneath. Of course, chemical weed control is still necessary, as no tarp is perfect in this regard. Nevertheless, nursery tarps can make your weed control project a lot more manageable.

Along those same lines, you can use a nursery tarp to cover fragile plants and flowers on cold autumn nights. The material is breathable while at the same time preventing frost from taking hold. In the morning, it’s easy to fold up and put away.

#4 – Shade

How many times have you sat out on your back patio only to bake in the bright summer sunshine? You could certainly purchase an awning to provide maximum shade from the sun, but some people don’t like such an extensive cover. Some still prefer a little bit of sun, as long as it’s not enough to be harmful. A nursery tarp is the perfect solution here. Like overhead latticework, a nursery tarp breaks up the sunlight just enough to prevent you from being burned or overexposed. Yet it still lets in enough sunlight to be enjoyable.

#5 – Windscreen

Lastly, nursery tarps make great windscreens. You might use a nursery tarp around a child’s play area or to cut down the wind traveling across your deck. You might also use one along your driveway to cut down on snowdrifts during the winter. Wherever there is wind, nursery tarps can reduce its impact.


Do Truck Tarps Really Save Gas?

A test done in the late 1990s to determine if gas was being wasted by open pickup truck beds resulted in the conclusion that adding a tarp or tonneau cover could significantly reduce drag and increase gas mileage. That study was seized upon by cover makers who suddenly found an entire market of customers willing to buy their products. A similar study was conducted 10 years later, reaching the same conclusion. However, we wonder whether these glorified tarps for trucks really do save that much gas or not.

Let’s be honest; long haul truck drivers use flatbed truck tarps on their trailers to protect the cargo. They are not being used to reduce drag or save on gas. Even dump trucks that make use of tarps do so to prevent the cargo underneath from coming loose in the wind and striking unfortunate passenger vehicles. These are not used to save gas. Yet pickup truck drivers seem to be stuck on the idea that a tarp or tonneau cover is more fuel-efficient.

The original numbers used to justify truck tarps and tonneau covers came from the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) and their two tests we previously mentioned. However, other tests have been done, one most recently by Consumer Reports, which casts real doubt on the idea of improving mileage with tonneau covers and tarps for trucks.

flatbed-tarp

The problem with the SEMA studies is that they only looked at drag and aerodynamics. They never actually tested any vehicles under real world conditions, including measuring how much fuel was used at different rates of speed. They simply assumed that by reducing drag, fuel mileage would increase. That makes sense, right? It turns out it’s probably not true.

Consumer Reports Testing

If you know anything about Consumer Reports magazine, you know it is published by a nonprofit organization that seeks to provide unbiased information not influenced by product manufacturers. They test all sorts of things from home electronics to vehicles to appliances. In 2013, they put the truck tarp/gas mileage theory to the test. They tested pickup trucks under four scenarios:

  • Open bed, tailgate up
  • Open bed, tailgate down
  • Covered bed, tailgate up
  • Covered bed, tailgate down.

The results of the Consumer Reports test startled many pickup truck drivers. Why? Because putting a tonneau cover or tarp on the back of a pickup truck appears to actually decrease fuel mileage pretty significantly. The magazine didn’t explain why, they just provide the raw data; data that showed covering the back of your truck actually make things worse in terms of gas mileage.

Tarps Are Still Useful

Now that we have completely ruined your day by telling you tonneau covers and truck tarps do not save gas, we don’t want you to assume that they do not have any value. They do. Tarps can be very useful for a number of things, whether you drive a pickup truck, a dump truck, or a semi.

For example, a tarp on the back of your truck is a great way to protect cargo underneath from sun, rainfall, and flying debris. Truck drivers use them all the time to protect valuable cargo until they drop a load. And of course, you might use them with your own pickup truck when you’re moving your house.

Tarps are also valuable for protecting other drivers from your cargo. At highway speeds, things can come loose a lot easier than you might think. A tarp keeps everything intact so that you are not endangering the welfare of others.

Tarps for trucks do have their place. A place that is just not gas mileage improvement.


Three Tips for Successful Truck Tarp Repair

Truck tarps are among the most important tools in the trucking industry. They can also be expensive tools if you buy the highest quality tarps available. So what do you do when one is ripped or torn? You try to repair it. Repairing a tarp can extend its life and save you a lot of money. That’s important for truck drivers working hard to make a living without a lot of room for error.

tractor trailer with cover

Whether you are a professional truck driver or a weekend warrior using tarps for your boat or camper, knowing how to repair rips, tears and holes can pay off in the long run.

We want to help by offering you these three tips for truck tarp repair:

#1 – Understand the Damage

A successful truck tarp repair starts with assessing the damage. For example, a minor tear or mouse hole can be temporarily repaired using commercial tarp tape. Damage that is more substantial will require a patch with either a strong glue or a stitched repair. Damage to seams always requires the strongest repair methods in order to prevent the damage reoccurring.

We might point out that tarp tape is really only intended as a temporary repair to get you where you’re going. Tarp tape will not last forever against sun, moisture, and temperature fluctuations. You will need to get some patching fabric if you want a repair that is more long lasting.

#2 – Clean before Patching

Truck drivers are notorious for not having a lot of time to deal with tarp damage properly. Consequently, sometimes a repair will be attempted without properly cleaning the area around the damage. This is a mistake. Regardless of the type of repair you make, proper cleaning is essential to a successful and strong repair.

Soil, dirt, and other debris can be cleaned with warm water, soap and a rag. Oil based stains will need to be attacked with some sort of solvent or rubbing alcohol. It is important that you get all of the substance off the tarp before making the repair, or the adhesive will not stick properly. Also, be sure to clean an area large enough to accommodate your entire patch. Six inches beyond the damage is generally large enough.

If you are stitching a patch in place, proper cleaning is still a good idea. Why? Because the stitching is only intended to provide extra strength. You will still be using adhesive to ensure a watertight repair.

#3 – Repair Both Sides of the Tarp

For those really big holes, you may need to apply a repair on both sides of the tarp. You can do this by patching one side first, giving the repair plenty of time to set up, and then applying the same repair to the other side. This will give you a lot of strength that should hold up over the long haul.

You can buy vinyl repair material and tarp repair kits at most places that sell commercial grade tarps for the trucking industry. It is fairly inexpensive and easy to use. Make sure however, that you follow the instructions found on the label. That includes instructions regarding air temperature at the time of the repair. If it is too cold, the adhesive will not stick properly to your tarp, causing the patch to fall off after just a couple of days. If it’s too hot, you may not get the patch applied in time before the adhesive sets up.

Truck tarp repair is not hard if you are patient and willing to do things the right way. Over the long haul, you can save a lot of money by repairing your tarps rather than replacing them.


Maintain Safety Standards with Grade 70 Chain Load Binders

Commercial trucks are very important to America’s economy. More freight, goods and industrial machinery is transported via commercial trucks than any other type of transportation in the continental U.S. According to a report from ATA  the trucking business, “deliver ten billion tons of virtually every commodity consumed—or nearly 70 percent of all freight transported annually in the U.S.” Virtually all goods and supplies transported in the U.S. use commercial trucks for transportation from oil and fuel to pharmaceuticals to fresh drinking water. Without cargo and flatbed trucks, our nation could not survive. Therefore maintaining safety standards with approved chains, binders and securement devices is of the utmost importance.

Any type of commercial hauler, whether it’s a full size semi-trailer or store delivery truck, needs to have contents secured. Chains are used the most on commercial trucks with chain binders for securing heavy machinery, steel, logs, portable buildings, vehicles and shipping containers. Chain binders offer the most securement when transporting heavy loads and with the proper chain grade are approved by the Department of Transportation (DOT) and American Trucking Association (ATA). Ratchet and lever or snap binders are two types of chain binders; however, snap binders are used less due to the risk of snapping out of position. Foldable handle binders are becoming more popular in the commercial trucking industry.

Chain grade is determined by the stress on a chain link at its breaking strength, according to the National Association of Chain Manufacturing (NACM). They have provided a breakdown of the different grades and applications of chains in the chart below.

Grade 30 Proof Coil Chain General Purpose, carbon steel chain.
Grade 43 High Test Chain A carbon steel chain widely used in industry, construction, agricultural and lumbering operations.
Grade 70 Transport Chain A high quality, high strength carbon steel chain used for load securement.
Grade 80 Alloy Chain Premium quality, high strength alloy chain, heat treated, used in a variety of sling and tie down applications. For overhead lifting applications, only Alloy Chain should be used.
Grade 100 Alloy Chain Premium quality, highest strength alloy chain, heat treated, used in a variety of sling and tie down applications. For overhead lifting applications, only Alloy Chain should be used.

Grade 70 transport chain is the recommended grade for chain binders and boomers in the commercial trucking industry. All chain binders must be secured using the attachment points on a truck. The minimum is four according to the NACS; however, the total weight of the load and the chain binder size determines how many attachment points are needed to properly secure the load. Attachment points should not exceed 45 degrees in order to secure any movement.

The best security is one which is carefully executed for the safety of the driver and other drivers on the road.

Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zeevveez/


Understand the Basic Types of Tarps for Truck or Trailers

Trailer tarps

For flatbed haulers, Tarping is perhaps the most arduous part of the job, the chief reason why Flatbed Driving Professionals command a premium over others. Flatbeds, by their very definition, are open topped. Loads being hauled on flatbeds need to be tarped frequently to protect the load from the elements. Given the significance of Tarps to the flatbed hauler, it is important to understand various Tarp types and Tarping Systems.

Tarp itself is a commonly used term for plastic coated fabric. We can broadly divide Tarps into four categories: Mesh Tarps, Poly Tarps, Vinyl Tarps and Canvas Tarps. Of these four categories, only Poly and Vinyl Tarps are supposed to be totally waterproof. The Mesh Tarp is designed to let water and air pass through but hold back debris. Of the two waterproof tarps, those with polyethylene coating (Poly Tarps) are what one generally finds at Home Depot or Wal-Mart. These are cheaper tarps with reduced durability. Poly Tarps have various uses but are not suitable for Trucking applications. Vinyl Tarps are the most commonly used material for Trucking applications. Vinyl is the best material for Heavy Duty Truck Tarps. They tend to be more expensive but have the necessary strength to handle the strain from exposure to winds on the highway and also the tension from bungees exerted on the D-Rings of the Tarp.

Tarping can be done manually by the driver. Different sizes of finished tarps such as the Heavy Duty Lumber Tarp, Steel Tarp, Coil Tarp, Machine Tarp or a Three Piece Tarp can be kept rolled up above the Headache Rack or in the Toolbox. Once the Steel Coil or other load is placed on the trailer bed, secured with Tie-Downs or 3/8 x 20 G 70 Transport Chains and Ratchet Chain Binder, a Moving Blanket can be thrown on top of the load, the necessary Plastic Tarp Protectors Placed and then the Coil Tarp or Heavy Duty Lumber Tarp can be laid above the load. The tarp is then secured in place with 21 Inch Rubber Bungee Straps pulling down on the D-Rings. This is the most common yet manual method of Tarping a load. It is required for loads of unpredictable sizes, loads such as Machines.

For consistent loads, load of predictable dimensions, Mechanical Tarping systems are also available in the Market:

  1. Front to Back Tarp Systems
    The most common examples of such systems are Asphalt Tarp  and Dump Truck Tarping systems. The Tarp has two long pockets along the Trailer length. The system has two metal arms that are inserted through the side pockets of the Tarp. The tarp is rolled up into a cylindrical roll at the front of the trailer. At the time of deployment, the tarp is unfurled from its rolled position and extended out to cover the open area of the trailer. Asphalt Tarps are made of Vinyl while Dump Truck Tarps are made of PVC Coated Mesh. There are other sliding Tarp systems as well available which fall under the category of Front-to-Back systems.
  2. Side to Side Tarp Systems
    Side to Side systems are generally synonymous with Roll Tarp systems. The tarp is fixed on one end and free on the other. The open area of the trailer is covered with bows that act like a system of ribs on which the tarp can roll back and forth. The mechanism drives the free end to roll and simultaneously curl toward the fixed end. Such systems are common on Gran Trailers. For flatbed trailers, a Side-Kit system is used. It is similar to the Roll-Tarp system but the drop height is provided by a combination of Stakes inserted in the Trailer side pockets and 4 foot high panels inserted through the sides of stakes along specially grooved channels.

Automatic Versus Manual Drive

All mechanical Tarping systems can be driven by a manual crank or an electrically automated motorized drive. The automated systems, while more convenient, can be more expensive and complex. Manual systems can be effort intensive, especially during the winter months, but tend to be simpler and robust.