How to Buy Tarpaulins on eBay

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How to Buy Tarpaulins on eBay

A tarpaulin, commonly called a tarp, groundsheet, or cover, is a fabric material that is usually waterproof and intended to protect items from the weather. Tarpaulins are used in everything from transportation to construction work, and can be utilised in almost any industry that includes goods of some kind stored outdoors. Tarpaulins are commonly used to cover loads on vehicles, used to place on the ground to protect goods from the bottom, and used to cover pallets, vehicles, and engines during storage.

Tarpaulins of various qualities, sizes, and materials can be purchased on eBay, but because of the many choices available, some buyers might have difficulty making decisions. Options ranging from multiple different materials to features like waterproofing, weight, colour, size, and more can all affect a purchase. Most buyers should check what they need and then make their purchase based on specific requirements.

Standard Materials for Tarpaulins

Tarpaulins are made of a variety of materials, although a common one on eBay is some sort of polypropylene blend. Different qualities and weaves of the same material can produce drastically different results, usually labelled as lightweight, heavy duty, or other weight and thickness guideline. Usually, cheap polypropylene tarpaulins are labelled as lightweight and feature a wide weave while 'heavy' ones are more expensive and have a finer weave. The latter are of course more suitable for waterproofing, longer lasting, and better at holding up to sunlight and UV rays.

Canvas Tarpaulins

Canvas is the original material for tarpaulins, but not a common material for modern tarpaulins. Canvas is very heavy, which makes it an excellent choice for using the canvas tarpaulins in windy locations such as on transport loads or roofs. Traditionally, canvas is waxed or oiled in order to waterproof it but some tarpaulins do not feature waterproofing and should not be used to cover anything that can get wet. In most cases, whether or not the canvas has been oiled can be found in the eBay item description. Usually, any waterproof tarp should be labelled as waterproofed, waxed, or oiled, and quite possibly a combination thereof.

Polypropylene Tarpaulins

Polypropylene comes in two basic types, labelled as lightweight and heavy, as listed above, but can also have a variety of materials of medium thickness and quality. Usually, the finer the weave, the better the tarpaulin but other factors do affect the quality as well. Some tarpaulins are UV proofed in order to stand up to sunlight. These are an excellent option for anyone who is looking for a tarp that is intended to remain outdoors. However, even considering the UV proofing, the tarpaulin is only likely to last a few years in daily sun exposure. Very thin polypropylene tarps are usually very affordable while thicker versions that might last longer and resist wear and tear are more expensive. Both options are readily available on eBay.

Types of Tarpaulins

There are multiple types of tarpaulins, and in general each type has specific purposes. For example, tent tarpaulins are traditional tarps but contain more grommets so that they can be easily strung up with rope and used as a tent. Other common types of tarps include ground tarps, which are intended to be used on the ground; construction tarps, which are intended to protect construction projects such as drying roof tar from the elements; perforated tarpaulins, which feature holes and are used for protection on scaffolding; and covers, which are used to cover supplies, products, and trucks or trailers. A reversible tarp is any tarp with a different colour on each side. Usually, reversible tarps have two layers, which means that they are more durable than single-layered tarps. Another benefit is that one side of the tarp can be used to protect items from paint and spills, and the other used as a more cosmetic cover for the tools, while not at work, for example.

Weight Considerations When Buying Tarpaulins

The heavier the tarp, the better it works in a windy environment. Many people purposely purchase heavy-duty canvas or weighted polypropylene tarps because they are more wind resistant than lightweight versions. However, a properly tied down tarpaulin is likely to be wind resistant enough so the weight is not a major consideration unless the tarp is intended for use on a very high building, or for frequent use covering semi-truck trailers where it might be regularly exposed to very heavy wind.

Choosing the Tarpaulin Size

Tarpaulins come in multiple sizes starting from very small, often 1 metre or less, and ranging up to very large sizes of 4 metres or more. Buyers must decide on the size based on the size of the project, how much area must be covered, and what sort of protection is needed. For example, some buyers use tarpaulins to cover a floor while painting a ceiling and, in this case, the tarpaulin should cover as much of the ground as possible. For covering loads and goods, the tarpaulin should be large enough to cover the load without bulking around the load. The grommets should be in a good position to be strapped to the item in order to protect it from wind and rain. On the other hand, tarpaulins used to cover flat spaces should be either the exact size or larger so that they can cover the complete area and not allow water under the tarp.

Considering the Intended Use of the Tarpaulin

Depending on the intended use of the tarpaulin, it might be necessary to purchase a different size or style. Usually, the suggested uses for tarpaulins are included in the eBay item description or the seller can provide this information. Tarpaulins intended to be used to protect flooring from paint might be listed as non-slip, paint resistant, absorbent, waterproof, or other factors that might protect the floor. Tarpaulins intended for covering roofs might list strong grommets, windproof, or wind resistant factors that would make the tarps excellent for being strapped to roofs. Essentially, many tarps are made for specific purposes, and many are made for multiple purposes, but most should list requirements for a certain purpose in order to be suitable for it. A perforated tarpaulin is useful for working to block wind and rain on a scaffolding but is not useful for most other applications.

Selecting the Tarpaulin Colour

An advantage of shopping on eBay is that there is a wide range of colours and styles of tarpaulins available. While not the most important factor, the colour does play a role into the decision making process. Many construction workers choose to purchase blue or silver tarps, especially for use on roofs. Other colours include orange, green, brown, tan, and sometimes camouflage prints. Some, but not all tarpaulins can be ordered with a custom logo, or ordered and given a vinyl application with a logo or name and phone number. This process is better done with heavy polypropylene tarps.

Choosing Tarpaulin Accessories

Most tarpaulins work best when used with straps, cables, and bungee cords, and all these accessories can be purchased on eBay with the tarp. Many sellers might even offer the necessary ropes or cables to go with the tarp in their store, so it is possible for the buyers to check and possibly save money by purchasing a bundle of products from the same seller. Bungee cords with hooks, straps, rope, and any ties necessary for the project should all be purchased with the tarpaulin.

Another consideration is that sometimes it is handy to have more than one tarpaulin on hand. Construction workers, painters, and even anyone storing items can use multiple tarps, so it might be beneficial to purchase two or more from the same seller in order to save on shipping fees. One seller might offer different sizes of tarps, different colours, or even different qualities and weights so it is likely that the buyers can choose whatever they want based on their needs.

Purchasing Tarpaulins on eBay

You can search for the tarpaulin you need from the home page of eBay. Consider including the colour, size, or material that you would like to purchase. Searching for a '2 x 2 blue tarpaulin' plus any other specifications is a good option if you need a specific tarp. You can, of course, modify the search to any exact specifications needed for your project. You could also search for something general such as 'tarpaulin' for more results, if you prefer.

Make sure that you compare multiple tarps, that you read the full eBay item description of the product you want to buy, and that you check the postage cost to ensure it is not too much for you. If the item is not located locally, check the estimated shipping time, and if it is longer than you are comfortable with, consider choosing another item. In most cases, you can contact the seller about any additional information you need, or about purchasing multiple tarpaulins.


Purchasing a tarpaulin on eBay mostly involves deciding on the type of tarp and then searching for it. Considerations include different materials such as canvas or different weights of polypropylene, although the heavy version of polypropylene is sometimes sold as vinyl. Each material has its own pros and cons, although canvas is usually much heavier and much more expensive than other materials. Different weights of polypropylene can also offer some advantages, so most buyers should look into their options before purchase.

Buyers should also choose a tarpaulin based on what it is being used for. Canvas tarpaulins are excellent for being used in windy areas while cheap polypropylene tarpaulins are good for protecting the floor from paint spills and the like. For this use, the weave must be tight enough to prevent paint from bleeding through. Finally, buyers can use their considerations to search for, compare, and purchase tarpaulins on eBay.

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