A tarpaulin or tarp is a large sheet of strong, flexible, water-resistant or waterproof material, often cloth such as canvas. It is used as a shelter from the elements, to protect building materials during building, as tent fly, car & truck covers and even as advertising billboards. Start your own business making and selling tarpaulins.

The business
The tarpaulin business is simple: suppliers sell the various materials that can be used to make tarpaulins by the meter:  canvas or polyester coated with polyurethane, or made of polyethylene. Client comes and says what size tarpaulin they want, what material and what thickness. You then take a deposit from the client, buy the material and make up the tarpaulin which usually means adding eyelets or grommets to the corners (you get a kit for this); you add a hem all around the material and add a rope as well. The grommets form attachment points for rope, allowing them to be tied down or suspended.

Tent fly

Tent fly

Crash course
Tarpaulins come in a variety of configurations including:
Materials: Polyethylene, Canvas, Polyvinyl chloride (“vinyl”), Silnylon
Thickness: usually described as:
0.13–0.15 mm thick – light-duty
0.18–0.20 mm thick – medium-duty
0.23–0.25 mm thick – heavy-duty
0.41 mm  thick – super-heavy-duty
* Some manufactures sell various thicknesses in different colours (in the : blue, yellow/orange, green, silver, brown).

Weave count is a measure of tarp strength, the greater the count, the greater its resistance against ripping in high wind conditions.

Materials are sold as washable or non-washable and waterproof or non-waterproof, and mildewproof or non-mildewproof.

Eyelet / grommet: simple, reinforced (stronger than simple)

This is a good business with good margins. While you can also sell standard sizes that will mean you have to hold stock that might not sell. If you only offer a custom service and take a deposit then you will have a much more efficient business.

Here is a very good overview of the different parts that make up a  tarpaulin.

Image credit: ikea

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