The Science behind Flatbed Truck Tarps

Flatbed truck tarps are one of the most important tools a flatbed trucker can own. However, the tarps in the trucker’s toolbox are more than just randomly manufactured pieces of fabric in different colors. There is actually a science behind their design, science you may not be aware of. Flatbed truck tarps are designed in such a way, as to provide maximum cargo protection in a package that is affordable and relatively easy to use.

The science behind flatbed truck tarps begins with the shape. Obviously, steel tarps are long and rectangular where machinery tarps tend to be squares or smaller rectangles. Lumber tarps combine long rectangles with additional flaps that come down over the sides of the trailer.


Rectangles Are Extremely Flexible

Rectangles are the preferred shape for flatbed truck tarps because the rectangle offers maximum flexibility. A rectangle allows significant coverage for loads of all kinds, but with a narrow profile that makes it easy to handle across the back of a flatbed or a dump truck box. You can still get very good coverage with a square, but squares need to be bigger to cover the same area. This makes them less flexible and harder to work with. It is for this reason that square tarps are usually reserved for covering machinery or acting as smoke protection. Rectangles are still the preferred shape for most flatbed loads.

Flat vs. Shaped Tarps

Campers and hikers are known to prefer shaped tarps because their catenary cuts and curves provide durability and strength, especially along seams. A good shaped tarp has a very strong spine that makes it ideal as a shelter or hammock. Nevertheless, shaped tarps do not work well for most flatbed applications.

A shaped tarp is limited in coverage by the shape it takes. On the other hand, a flat tarp has no such limits. It works equally well whether the truck driver is covering a set of steel coils or a load of construction materials. The tarp will conform to whatever shape it is applied to with maximum protection at all times. Not so with the shaped tarp. That is why you don’t see shaped tarps used by truckers except in very rare and specialized circumstances.

Material Choices Equally Important

The science behind flatbed truck tarps even covers the materials manufacturers choose to use. For example, all of the tarps we carry at Mytee Products are made with heavy-duty vinyl or canvas manufactured as a woven product. It is the weaving that gives the materials their incredible strength.

A woven vinyl material is as strong as any other commercial or industrial fabric yet still lightweight enough to be easy to handle. Woven canvas is somewhat heavier, but it offers the added benefit of breathability for applications where moisture is a concern. In either case, the fabrics are woven according to detailed specifications that make them ideal for tarp manufacturing.

Grommets and D-rings

Lastly, grommets and D-rings are built into flatbed truck tarps to make securing them to trailers as easy as possible. Nonetheless, neither grommets nor D-rings are placed randomly. Grommets are sewn into the outside edges at specific intervals that offer the maximum number of securement options without sacrificing material integrity. The same is true with D-rings. Designers also place extra D-rings on specific kinds of tarps that make covering loads easier. The D-rings found on your average lumber tarp are a good example.

Tarp design is anything but haphazard. There is a lot of important science behind flatbed truck tarps that make them the perfect tools for their intended purposes.

Roll Tarps : Making Life Easier for the American Trucker

Companies such as Mytee Products sell many truck tarps to flatbed and dump truck drivers. Tarps are tools of the trade for protecting loads and meeting the regulations of the various states. We carry all sorts of products ranging from standard steel tarps to the largest and toughest lumber tarps. Recently, we have noticed a trend among truckers buying more roll tarps. These tarps are being used with different motorized rolling systems to make life a lot easier for the American trucker.

A roll tarp differs from standard steel and lumber tarps in how it is applied. Rather than being manually deployed or lowered onto a load using a tarping machine, the roll tarp is connected to a mechanized frame that rolls and unrolls the tarp with either an electric motor or a manual crank. Deploying the tarp results in the system unrolling it down its length; the retraction process works just the opposite.


Roll tarps have traditionally been used on dump trucks and grain trailers where it is nearly impossible to safely use any other kind. However, the industry is coming up with new and creative ways to use roll tarps on standard flatbed trailers as well. Drivers choosing to go this route are finding tarping a lot easier.

Dump Trucks and Grain Trailers

Dump trucks and grain trailers usually carry loads that are not especially sensitive to environmental conditions. So why cover them with roll tarps? Because the states have laws in place requiring load securement in order to avoid anything flying off the truck or trailer and striking a car following behind. A dump truck carrying a load of gravel provides a good example.

If that gravel load is exceptionally dry, the wind could pick up a few pieces of rock, which could then fly off the load and strike a car. Even a small rock can break a windshield at 60 mph. At the very least, such an incident would result in damage to the car that needs repair. In a worst-case scenario, the shock of the event could cause the car driver to lose control and drive off the road. This is why the states require dump truck and grain trailer loads be secure.

Roll Tarps and Flatbed Trailers

Flatbed truckers can now use roll tarps by combining them with sidewall systems. Some of the most popular sidewall systems include a set of aluminum posts and panels that can be assembled around the perimeter of a flatbed trailer in mere minutes. Another popular system uses framing similar to what you might find on a covered wagon. In either case, once the sidewall system is in place the roll tarp can be deployed with little effort.

Flatbed truckers seem more willing to invest in these kinds of systems because they are:

•Easier to use than standard tarps
•Safer in terms of wind
•Safer in terms of walking on loads
•Less prone to damaging sensitive cargo underneath
•More than capable of withstanding bad weather
•More likely to last longer due to better deployment.

Another factor flatbed truck drivers have to consider is the time it takes them to deploy and remove a tarp. If using a standard tarp takes 30 minutes while using a roll tarp takes five, that’s an extra 50 minutes on each load the trucker isn’t spending on dealing with tarps. That time can be spent turning the wheels instead.

Mytee Products offers a selection of roll parts for truckers. All of our tarps are made with the highest quality materials and are compatible with most standard roll systems.

Why Should You Use Flatbed Truck Tarps

Truck tarps are often used to secure and cover different types of loads in trucks. Therefore, they can make transporting loads in flatbeds, pickup trucks and dump trucks much easier. There are a very wide variety of
truck tarps you can choose from since they are available in different styles and sizes depending on the type of truck and the type of load being transported.

Some popular types of truck tarps are steel tarps, dump truck tarps, and trailer tarps which are all suitable for trucks that carry heavy merchandise and cargo.


Types of flatbed truck tarps

Since they are made of waterproof and highly durable material, most truck tarps are resistant to weather elements including snow, rain, hail, strong gusts of wind, and ultra violet rays.

1.Steel Tarps

Steel tarps are suitable for truck roof covers especially in heavy goods vehicles, delivery services and other outdoor applications especially rugged applications.

2.Dump Truck Tarps

These are mainly recommended for hauling of asphalt especially when a waterproof cover is not necessary. On the other hand, dump truck tarps can be used for towing gravel, rock and sand.

3.Vinyl and Polythene Truck Tarps

Besides being waterproof, vinyl and polythene are also considered the toughest and most durable truck tarps because they are also mold, mildew and rot free. Some type of cargo and materials such as steel, asphalt and wood must
be protected against water especially because truck drivers are usually on the road even when it’s raining or snowing.
They are primarily used for protecting wood freight from weather elements such as rain and snow. However, waterproof
truck tarps might not be suitable for other types of loads such as steel beams. Therefore, it is vital to consider the type of load you will be transporting.

Benefits of using truck tarps

The different types of materials used for manufacturing truck tarps are hard, strong wearing fabric that is coated with PVC to guarantee for UV, tear and abrasion resistance. Since they are waterproof and sturdy, some
truck tarps are available fire resistant material. These truck tarps are recommended for various waste applications such as tree hauling for agricultural, mining and industrial applications, and other severe applications. Besides containing and securing loads, truck tarps can also be used as truck sides and roof covers. Therefore, drivers can rest assured that they will lose none of their cargo by simply taking the time to secure the loads they are transporting safely sing truck tarps.

Enhanced Safety

Wood chips, gravel, metal scraps stones and other debris can easily fall from the truck especially when driving and this generally creates unsafe driving conditions even for other drivers. In order to ensure that heavy cargo does not fall onto the road when loose or unsecured, flatbed truck tarps are primarily manufactured to hold cargo securely while preventing any cargo-related damage to other road users.

Another major benefit of using truck tarts is reducing the dragging effect on the vehicle. Therefore, you can easily increase the miles per gallon you get because the movement of air is more streamlined.

Flatbed Truck Tarps 101 : All You Need To Know

Flatbed truck tarps come in a wide variety of materials, sizes and even functionality. There is also no one-size fits all solution for these products. All this factors can make it extremely challenging for the uninitiated to effectively determine just what kind of tarp is ideal for their exact needs and preferences. To this end, this article has been specifically designed to briefly elaborate on some of the most common varieties of these items, and what use they are generally put through.

Lumber Tarps

These products are primarily used to protect lumber from exposure to the elements as well as been in contact with the flatbed truck’s exterior components. Despite of this fact, this type of tarps can also be used for safely transporting other kinds of cargo. Lumber tarps come with flaps at their ends that are meant to cover the nether regions of a flatbed truck’s load. These products generally come In the following sizes:


Smoke Tarps

These category of tarps are designed to effectually wrap around the front area of flatbed load. In essence, they are meant to protect cargo from accumulating soot, dirt and more importantly, the truck’s exhaust emissions while it is in transit. Smoke tarps can also be utilized to prevent the wind from generating the unnerving whistling sound that emanates from transporting cargos such as PVC and steel pipes. These tarps for the most part come with 10X12 dimensions.

Steel Tarps

This variety of tarps features a 4-sided severe steel construction that is totally devoid of flaps. This unique configuration makes steel tarps excellent for transporting:
· Cables.
· Steel rod
· Sheet metal.

Steel tarps come in the following sizes:
· 16X27
· 20X27
· 24X27

Dump Truck Tarps

This is a waterproof tarp that is primarily designed for protecting dump truck loads. However, it can also be used for with other similarly styled trucks like:
· Fertilizer tenders.
· Trailers.
· Grain carts.
· Grain trucks.

Dump truck tarps dimensions can be:

· 9’10X41
· 10’6X42

As would be expected there are also a number of accessories, which are necessary for properly using flatbed truck tarps in any kind of situation. This includes tie downs that secure these products in place. Let us now take a look at some of the most common of these accessories.

Bungee Straps

Also known as Rubber Tarp Straps, these are handy tie downs that come in two major types, natural rubber and EPDM rubber.The first variety is designed to be utilized in areas that are characterized by cold climatic conditions. Natural rubber tie downs cannot crack, tear or get brittle even when exposed to freezing temperatures for protracted periods of time.

On the other hand, EPDM rubber straps are meant for areas that experience hot weather. They can effortlessly withstand prolonged exposure to the scotching sunlight.

Shock Cords

This is a stretchy rope that comes with a heavy duty polyester fabric that encases a rubber core. A shock cord can be the best solution if you wish for a custom length tie down, which you can make use of by adding a bungee hook.

Rubber Ropes

Just like a shock cord, this type of tie down can be cut to the exact length you desire. It usually comes in two varieties, which are the hollow and solid core. The first type is designed for heavy-duty applications, while the second for lightweight applications.

By now you would have come to realize that tarps are unique to the type of load a trucker carries and come with a variety of accessories to secure cargo and safely transport it.Please make sure you buy the right tarp for your cargo needs that is also durable and gives you the best value for your money.

The Magic Is In The Stitching

When you take a look at any of the tarps we stock, you will notice double-stitched seams and heavy-duty box stitching. An average driver will assume these stitches are for added strength, which to an extent is true, however few are familiar with the physics behind it. One should be careful when purchasing truck tarps, be it lumber, steel or coil tarps that haven’t been manufactured using these kind of stitches.

A truck driver needs tarps to protect cargo from the weather and road debris. However, he/she also requires durable tarps that withstand the wear and tear of daily driving for as long as can be. That is why we recommend spending a little more on a high-quality tarp that offers years of reliable service. Opting for a cheaper alternative could end up costing more in the long run as the tarps might need to be replaced more often.


Spreading the Load Evenly

The idea behind double stitched seams is one of spreading the load across a larger piece of fabric for added strength. By ‘spreading the load’ we mean taking the stress created by pressure (in this case, the pressure generated by both the cargo and the straps used to secure the tarp) and spreading it across the entire seam rather than just concentrating it at the point of a D-ring or grommet.

The laws of physics dictate that the immediate surface area around a pressure point carries the most amount of stress at any given time. Nevertheless, threads running through the fabric of a tarp take some of that stress and distribute the energy across a larger area. It stands to reason that greater stress distribution is achieved by using more thread. That is precisely the point of double stitched seams.

The double stitched seam increases the amount of thread and fabric used to absorb the energy placed on high stress points. Instead of one small piece of fabric and a grommet carrying all the energy of a tie down strap, the energy is dispersed and the overall stress reduced.

The Box Stitch

The box stitch is used to secure D-rings based on the same principle. The only difference here is that the load is not being spread across a greater amount of the tarp surface. Rather, it is being evenly distributed within the webbing that holds a D-ring in place. If you are not sure what we are talking about, look at one of your lumber tarps next time you are tying one down.

A D-ring is held in place by a piece of heavy-duty nylon webbing. If that webbing were stitched in place around the outside edges only, all of the stress put on the D-ring would be absorbed by the edge seam and the small amount of fabric it is attached to. Box stitching distributes the stress across the entire piece of webbing to hold it more firmly in place. Having said that, using the box pattern is important.

A box stitch essentially divides the webbing into smaller pieces that each carries its portion of the load. Even if one part fails, there are up to a dozen others capable of absorbing the energy. A properly stitched webbing is one that could last almost forever under the right conditions.

As you can see, designing and manufacturing lumber, steel and coil tarps requires more than just cutting a piece of nylon to size and putting a nice, cosmetic stitch in place. Tarp designers put a lot of work into the physics of the matter, making sure that stress does not pull a tarp apart, literally at the seams. A well-designed tarp is one that provides cargo protection and stands up to the stresses of flatbed trucking.