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Does the Color of a Flatbed Truck Tarp Matter?

When you are shopping for truck tarps, you can find them in just about any color. Standard colors are black and blue, but you can get them in red, yellow, green, and just about anything else. The question is, does the color of a flatbed truck tarp really matter? That depends on how you feel about heat.

Colors themselves are merely aesthetic. However, a black tarp will absorb more sunlight, thereby producing more heat. If this is a problem for either your load or your own comfort, you might want to think about another color. Otherwise, it does not matter much.

Why Black Tarps Get Hotter

Black tarps can be significantly hotter than lighter colors on sunny days. The reason behind this has to do with how light is absorbed and reflected. As far as black as concerned, it is not really a color. It is actually the absence of color.

When light rays hit a surface, certain parts of the light spectrum are reflected to produce the perception of color. The parts of the spectrum that are absorbed are not seen by the naked eye. A black surface is one that absorbs every part of the light spectrum, reflecting nothing back for your eyes to recognize as color. This absolute absorption of the light spectrum explains why black tarps get hotter.


By absorbing all of the light, the tarp is also absorbing the energy from it. That energy is stored as heat in the tarp’s fabric. On a hot, sunny day, the heat emanating off a black tarp can make it almost unbearable to remove from a flatbed and fold up. Of course, black tarps are great on winter days for that very same reason.

There may be times when you want to avoid a black tarp if you can. One example might be a load that is sensitive to high heat. Such loads require lighter colored tarps that reflect more light than they absorb.

Aesthetic Appearance

As long as heat is not an issue for loads, most truckers choose the color of their tarps based on aesthetic purposes. A black tarp has an advantage in that it shows very little dirt. You could get away with cleaning your tarp less often by choosing black. That’s not to say they should not be cleaned at all, but during those busy times when you just don’t have to the option to stop and clean, a black tarp will not show the dirt.

The lighter the color, the worse a tarp will look as it wears. Why? Because lighter colors do not hide flaws as well. A lighter colored tarp will show every repair, every stain, and every bit of discoloration caused by fading. Black tarps are not subject to such things. As a general rule, they look better for longer.

Now that you know the color of a flatbed truck tarp is largely inconsequential, at least you will not have to worry that buying something other than black could have a huge impact on your tarping and hauling. Buy whatever color suits your fancy. At the end, it only matters that your load arrives at its destination safely.