Rubber Tarp Straps: Natural Rubber or Synthetic?

Every truck driver knows that you need the right tools for the job. There are different tarps for different types of loads, and different methods of fastening a tarp to the trailer bed. One of the more convenient types of straps is the rubber strap with the S-hook in either end. These straps come in both natural and synthetic, ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM) rubbers. The question is – is one better than the other?

Neither natural nor synthetic rubber is a better product overall. Both have their pros and cons depending on how they are used. It is best to have both kinds on hand if you are a driver that works in all regions of the country and during all seasons. Both work equally well with steel and lumber tarps of all sizes.

Natural Rubber Straps

Rubber tarp straps are incredibly convenient when all you are doing is securing the tarp itself. They go on in just seconds, and are durable enough to handle road speeds and the elements.

rubber-straps

When you choose natural rubber, you are choosing a material that works very well in most environments, with the exception of the blazing hot sun of the American South and Southwest. High temperatures cause natural rubber to lose its elasticity, while UV rays break down the material’s composition.

On the other hand, natural rubber is the material of choice for winter use. Unlike EPDM, natural rubber does not become brittle in subfreezing temperatures. It also tends not to crack or tear in cold weather.

EPDM Rubber Straps

EPDM is an M-class synthetic rubber with a high ethylene content of between 45% and 85%. The higher the ethylene content, the more polymers can be used in the rubber mixture without affecting extrusion. This allows for a higher polymer cross-link density for stronger material.

EPDM is the best choice for securing tarps in hot weather under the scorching sun. This synthetic product holds up very well under high temperatures without losing strength or elasticity. EPDM offers a second benefit for sunny environments: it is not prone to breaking down from exposure to UV rays. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about EPDM in cold weather environments. Cold weather tends to make EPDM brittle and prone to tearing.

Keep in mind that branding does matter when purchasing your truck tarps and straps. Where rubber straps are concerned, the fact that they all look pretty much the same can be deceiving. You are better off paying a little more for a branded product in order to get a better quality strap with a longer life and more durability.

Pairing With Rubber Ropes

You will find that it is difficult to purchase rubber straps greater than 41 inches in length. So what does the trucker do when he or she needs coverage across a much larger area? Hooking multiple tarp straps together is not necessarily a wise idea because doing so creates more opportunities for failure. Instead, pairing straps with rubber rope is the best idea.

Rubber rope can be cut to the desired length for continuous coverage across your entire load. Then insert S-hooks at either end to be attached to shorter straps where necessary. The combination of rubber rope and tarp straps provides a perfect solution for securing any load.

When buying tarp straps, it is important to have the right tool for the job. Consider weather conditions, cargo type, and any other factors necessary to choosing the right straps.


How to Clean a Moldy Truck Tarp

Today’s modern truck tarps are made with mold resistant vinyl and poly materials that stand up pretty well to moisture and mold spores. And although winding up with a tarp covered in mold is rare, mold growth can still occur from time to time. Any mold growth on a truck tarp should be dealt with as quickly as possible in order to prevent it from spreading. Mold not only causes damage to cargo, it can also make anyone who is exposed to it sick.

Cleaning mold from a truck tarp is not difficult in principle. You can use a commercial solution purchased from the store, or you can create your own solution of baking soda and white vinegar. A good ratio is ¼-cup baking soda for every 2 cups vinegar. Regardless of the cleaning solution you choose to use, here are the steps for cleaning a moldy truck tarp:

1. Spread and Sweep

The first step is to spread your tarp out in an outdoor space large enough to let you lay it completely flat, with plenty of room to walk around. This is best done on a warm and sunny day when there is little chance of rain. You may need to weigh down the corners of the tarp if there is any breeze.

Next, use a stiff broom to sweep the tarp clean. You want to remove all of the surface dirt and loosen the mold at the same time. Be sure to sweep in the direction of the wind so that the loosened dirt and debris does not blow back onto the tarp.

truck tarp

2. Hose It Down, Scrub

Step number two is to hose down your tarp. Adjust the spray head to give yourself some pressure. This will help loosen more of a mold and any dirt and grime that did not come off with the broom. As soon as you are done hosing off the tarp, get right to work with your cleaning solution.

If you are using the baking soda and vinegar, apply the solution with a spray bottle or brush and let it sit for 15 minutes. Then take a soft bristled brush and scrub the mold spots until they come clean. You may have to add more solution as you go. If you are using a commercial cleaning solution, just follow the instructions on the bottle. When you are done scrubbing all of the spots clean, hose down the tarp for the second time.

3. Let It Dry

The last step is to let your tarp dry. If you can hang it up, it will dry more quickly while also reducing the chances that additional mold will grow. If it cannot be hung, at least use your broom to sweep off as much excess water as possible. Allowing the tarp to dry in the sun will ensure that all the water evaporates without promoting new mold growth.

When mold does form on a truck tarp, it is usually because it has folded and stored while still wet. All it takes to create mold growth is a little water and some airborne mold spores. So to avoid mold growth, do your best to allow your tarps to dry before folding and storing them. If that is not possible because of weather, pull them out and let them dry at the soonest available opportunity.


The Importance of Corner Protectors

In a perfect world, the American trucker could pull his or her rig into the yard, hook up a trailer in mere minutes, and be on his or her way down the road. However, we do not live in a perfect world. Truckers are responsible for securing their own loads prior to departure. When truck tarps are used, part of securing a load is putting corner protectors in place.

Corner protectors can be a nuisance for a trucker on a tight schedule. Nevertheless, they provide valuable protection in a number of different ways. Corner protectors are used to protect:

  • Fragile or sensitive cargo
  • Webbing and straps
  • Tarp material.

cornerprotector

Truckers always have to be aware of the loads they carry and any potential risks involved. They also need to be aware of the law. For example, any load in which friction between cargo and strap could cause abrasive damage to the strap is required to be secured with corner protectors. An accident resulting from a failure to use corner protectors could result in penalties to the trucker.

Of course, truck drivers also have a responsibility to the customers they serve. A sensitive load such as drywall or decorative brick is a prime candidate for corner protectors. The last thing the driver needs is to deliver a load with damage caused by unprotected corners.

Different Types of Corner Protectors

There are different types of corner protectors corresponding to the different kinds of loads the trucker might carry. Here is a list of the ones used most often:

  • V-Boards –The most common type of corner protector is known as the V-board. This protector is nothing more than two flat surfaces joined at a 90° angle to provide cargo protection against straps. Most of the time these protectors are lightweight plastic. They offer inexpensive, easy-to-use protection for most loads.
  • Flexible Rubber – The flexible rubber corner protector is a small, rubber patch. It provides both cargo and webbing protection for loads in which 90° angles are not the norm. These are not recommended for use with chains.
  • Steel Protectors – Loads requiring the use of heavy chains need steel protectors designed with a divot or channel to keep the chain in place. There really is no substitute for this type of protector when chains are being used to secure a load.
  • Cardboard Edge Boards – Cardboard edge boards are just as popular as the plastic V-board. They are more suitable for fragile cargo and can be used to stabilize pallet loads as well. Best of all, they cost next to nothing.
  • Friction Pads – The friction pad is the ideal solution for coil loads. It lies between the coil and the tarp to reduce abrasion and stress. Friction pads can extend the life of steel tarps considerably.
  • Wear Sleeves – Your lumber tarps and cargo are not the only things needing protection. Your webbing straps also need to be taken care of with wear sleeves. Wear sleeves easily slip over the webbing to provide abrasion resistance. They are easily adjustable on the fly as well.

Corner protectors are cheap enough that the average trucker can keep plenty on hand at all times. At the same time, they provide important protection for cargo, truck tarps, straps, and chains. No trucker can do his or her job without them.

 


Things to Consider When Using Flatbed Truck Tarps

Tarping a load is usually a necessity for flatbed trailers. Heavy-duty flatbed truck tarps are used to protect the cargo and keep it a bit more secure, providing maximum protection and safety from the start of a trip to its conclusion. Would it surprise you to know that effectively using heavy-duty tarps is more complicated than simply applying the fabric across the load and securing it with a few bungee cords?

Using tarps effectively, efficiently and cost-effectively is a matter of understanding the dynamics between tarps and the loads they cover. Experienced flatbed haulers know how to tarp loads correctly; inexperienced truckers have to learn through practical experience.

Here is a short list of things a driver must consider when tarping:

1. Load Profile

How a load sits on a flatbed trailer really determines how the tarp is applied. There are times when a driver has no say in how a trailer is loaded; he or she must apply and secure their tarps the best they can. However, when drivers can give their input on trailer loading it is beneficial to have cargo loaded in such a way as to maximize tarp capabilities. The idea is to get the most protection with the least amount of tarping possible.

Flatbed Truck Tarps

2. Tarps Securing

Tarps are secured to flatbed trailers using bungee cords, straps, ropes, and chains. Bungee cords are the easiest and fastest to use, but these are not always the wisest choice. Drivers must always consider the size and weight of the load, potential weather conditions, and the strength of any tie down option. It is not true that any means of tying down a tarp is acceptable.

A second thing to consider when securing tarps is having loose fabric that can flap in the wind. This is never a good scenario. Loose fabric can damage cargo through repeated friction or abrasion. Loose fabric can also create air pockets, resulting in the wind slowly, but gradually, getting under a tarp and compromising its position. A compromised tarp no longer protects the cargo underneath from the elements.

3. Protection Flaps

D-ring protection flaps are an important part of flatbed trailer tarps. These protection flaps provide a heavy-duty fabric shield between the D-ring and the surface beneath it. The flap prevents damage to cargo in some cases; in other cases, it prevents the webbing holding the D-ring in place from being exposed to sharp edges. Any new flatbed tarp you purchase should have protection flaps at all D-ring positions.

4. Tarp Application

Applying flatbed tarps is one of the most dangerous jobs in the trucking industry. Tarps can become caught in the wind, whipping around and causing injury. In addition, straps and bungee cords can break or a driver could easily slip and fall while moving around on top of the load.

Before beginning the tarping process, it pays to step back and take just a few minutes to assess the situation. By all means, ask others to help if they are available. Moreover, if you can avoid climbing on top of the load, do so.

Tarping a load is a complex process if you are doing it right. Learning how to tarp properly is a skill that requires a combination of knowledge, time, and experience.


What to Look for When Buying a Lumber Tarp

Truckers know how important it is to protect the load, even if the load is a lumber only load. So, choosing the right product for the right load is essential. When buying your tarp, you can choose between being solely cost conscious or considering quality and functionality before you make your decision. Moreover, as with most purchasing decisions, getting the best possible quality might involve spending a little more than the intended budget for it.

Another thing to consider about lumber, is the fact that, a load can be very hard on the tarp that covers it. A light-duty tarp may weigh and cost less, but it will probably not last as long as you would like it to. Always go with heavy-duty tarps that can withstand the punishment of the load it covers.

lumber tarp

Here are three things you should look for when buying lumber tarps:

1. Material Weight

It can be tempting to choose a lightweight product to make applying and tying down a tarp as easy as possible. However, this could be a costly mistake if a new tarp is damaged after just a few loads. This scenario can be avoided by purchasing an 18 oz. vinyl tarp. Vinyl is lighter than canvas, 100% waterproof, and incredibly tough.

It is possible to choose three-piece parts that use a heavier vinyl on the top and a lighter vinyl on the sides. This sort of arrangement reduces the overall weight while providing the heaviest protection where you need it most – at the top of the load. As a side note, pay attention to the seams and hems. Heat-sealed seams and reinforced hems are best.

2. Drop

The amount of drop a tarp offers is an important part of protecting the lumber load. Not enough drop can leave too much of the load exposed to the elements; too much drop may mean an excess amount of fabric to be secured. Neither situation is ideal. Having said that, lumber loads are such that finding a tarp that fits perfectly, every time, is nearly impossible.

Most truckers will need tarps with multiple drops to account for different kinds of loads. You will soon enough know the specific tarps that are needed for the loads you tend to carry most frequently.

3. D-Rings and Grommets

D-rings and grommets make it possible for you to tie down your tarps in order to protect your load. First and foremost, any lumber tarp you purchase should have enough of both to make securing the tarp easy regardless of the size and shape of the road.

The second thing to pay attention to is how D-rings and grommets are attached to the tarp. Heavy-duty construction is important. D-rings should be attached with heavy-duty webbing, back stitched for maximum strength. They should also include a heavy-duty protection flap underneath. As for the grommets, these should be attached with heavy-duty webbing that are at least 2 inches in width.

When buying a lumber tarp the key is quality, in both construction and materials. It might be worth it to spend more on a high quality product that will last longer than to try to get by with a cheaper alternative. Remember, protecting your load appropriately will only be good for business. A high-quality tarp will pay for itself over time as it used to cover more loads.