More from: lumber loads

The Importance of Lumber Tarps

At first thought, it may seem that applying tarps to lumber loads is a waste of time. We just assume lumber is durable enough to handle a trip up the interstate without too many problems. However, that isn’t the case. There is one silent villain of lumber that could cause monstrous levels of damage and ruin the entire load long before it reaches its destination. And that enemy is – moisture. Keeping lumber dry is the primary reason for using lumber tarps.

To be clear, hauling lumber is normally associated with carrying cut wood from the harvest location to the processing location. Nevertheless, hauling lumber can also mean carrying finished products, such as 2x4s, to a construction site. Regardless of the stage of production, all lumber is still susceptible to moisture.

Fungal Growth Equals Worthless Wood

Wood is a pretty durable product, capable of taking a lot of punishment. Nonetheless, under the right conditions, fungus can grow within a load of lumber. Substantial fungal growth can make an entire load worthless. This is why flatbed truckers have to be very careful about protecting lumber on the road.

lumber

In order for fungus to grow, three things need to be present in just the right proportions: moisture, warm temperatures, and air. Any two can be just right and you will still not get fungus if the third is not. This is why rough cut lumber can sit in the bottom of a river for hundreds of years without ever growing fungus or decaying. There is simply not enough oxygen to sustain fungal growth.

On the back of a flatbed trailer however, it is not difficult at all to reach optimum conditions for fungal growth. There is obviously plenty of air, and a fairly warm day with sunshine satisfies the temperature requirements. Add a little moisture from a short rainstorm and you have the perfect conditions for fungus.

The main problem with lumber loads is that any water managing to seep through open spaces can then become trapped between individual pieces of lumber. If allowed to sit long enough in this condition, fungus can grow. Therefore, the best way to avoid the risk is to cover the load with lumber tarps. Tarps keep away moisture and, in the case of finished lumber, prevent any damage from flying debris and insects.

Tarp Quality Important

Providing maximum protection for a lumber load is a matter of using a high-quality lumber tarp. A good tarp will be large enough to cover the top and sides of the load, with flaps on the front and back to completely encase the lumber. Vinyl or poly are the two most common fabric choices, though it’s not unheard of for some truckers to use canvas.

We recommend a high-quality tarp from a reputable manufacturer. The driver will pay a little more for quality, but the higher price is worth it over the long term. A quality tarp will offer maximum protection and last longer than a cheaper alternative. Moreover, given that lumber tarps are one of the most important tools of the trade for the timber hauler, there is no point in doing business on the cheap.

Protecting lumber from moisture is an important part of the job. This makes lumber work the most labor-intensive and time-consuming in all of the industry. Truckers should consider what is involved in order to make sure they are getting paid well enough to make the work worth their while. Considering that the pay is good, applying those lumber tarps is no big deal.


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.