Insulated tarps serve far more purposes than people think.
Not only can they be used to insulate your home during bad winters (and actually keep the heat in), but they’re also used to cure concrete in commercial applications, and can be found in plenty of construction projects in general.
Insulated tarps have multifaceted features that can be applied to many situations, whether that means making a boat cover or keeping your dog’s kennel nice and warm during the winter.
Let’s talk about why you could find yourself needing one, and dive into a wider range of their uses.
What Are Insulated Tarps?
Tarps are relatively thin at under 43mm, and can be used to make a shield against rain, wind, and keep materials, items, and roofs nice and dry. An insulated tarp is all of that, but nowhere near as thin.
These include foam cells in between two layers of material (usually polyester canvas), more secured tie-down eyelets, and a larger, heavier overall design. These tarps cannot be cut down to a different size, because they would otherwise be rendered ineffective.
Materials Used in the Making of Insulated Tarps
We all like to know what materials are in the things we buy, and while insulated tarps don’t have a crazy amount of them, they’re interesting and important to know about.
Closed Cell Foam
Closed cell foam is different from regular cell foam. It offers a specific bond that open foam cells don’t cover.
As you might imagine, the foam cells created are literally closed-of: they don’t allow anything inside, from moisture to heat, making them a great barrier when you need to insulate something.
While open cell foam is still viable, it doesn’t have the same high qualities of closed cell foam. It’s one of the best insulators out there.
Polyester is a form of canvas, and it’s cheap to produce. Because of the way it reflects heat, mixed with closed foam cells, it’s a solid choice. Polyester is prone to breaking down in the heat and UV rays more than polyethylene, for instance, but that doesn’t negate its effectiveness.
Most polyester tarps are treated with a chemical that helps prevent sun damage, so you can resist heat on the outside, and insulate on the inside.
When do You Need One?
It depends on the situation. A standard tarp could just be used to block the rain, but an insulated tarp serves more purposes. These are just a few examples of what you can do with them.
Insulating Your Garage
Garages are one part of the home that are basically afterthoughts. There’s no insulation in the walls, and there’s usually concrete flooring, so you end up with a lot of cold sinking into that concrete and keeping it chilly inside.
So long as your roof is patched well and there are no leaks that allow water or snow in, you can use a tarp to help you out.
The biggest thing is going to be insulating your garage door from the inside, so that when it closes, it has a good seal to it. Use an insulated tarp around the inside of the windows as well, and as a hanging seal over the door that leads into the house.
You can do that by securing it to a spot over the door, and just letting the rest of it hang down.
Insulating the Windows
Winter hits, and it hits hard. Most of our heating during the cold months is actually lost through transference with our windows.
glass is a relatively good heat conductor, therefore, it’s prone to heat transference: when the warm air inside touches it, and becomes cold from the overwhelming frigid air constantly pressed up against the outside of the glass.
Each piece of glass is like a little battleground for heat vs. cold, and as you can imagine, the overwhelming amount of cold air outside is going to win.
Insulting your windows with tarps is simple, and it can be relatively cheap. You can get white tarps that still allow some levels of light through as well, so it won’t be too dark.
All you have to do is get measurements for your window frames on the outside, and cut pieces of a large tarp to fit those measurements. You can cut them into smaller segments, attach them for the winter, and enjoy lower heating costs throughout the whole season.
Dog Kennel in the Winter
Your dog still needs to do their business outside, no matter how cold or snowy it is on the ground, and they need a place to rest. They can’t be cooped up inside all the time.
You can use insulated tarps to make a dog kennel outside that will hold onto heat well. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even install a heater so long as you know how to position it properly.
Tents and Outdoor Shelters
If you just have an insulated tarp as the top of a canopy, it’s not going to do much good other than not allowing cold to transfer from the rain through the other end of the tarp.
Any warmth inside the tarped area would just travel outward and get sucked up by the cold air surrounding the rain.
Unless it was also on the sides. If you’re trying to make a fully covered outdoor space, as many people often do, using insulated tarps allows you to maintain heat on the inside.
You can put a space heater here, or just enter the closed-off area and let it heat up from you being in there for a while, so long as there is an insulated tarp keeping all that heat in.
Curing concrete can take days or even weeks depending on the size and depth of your project. It’s not supposed to be laid down in layers; it has to cure all at once.
If you’re going to do that, you have to insulate it properly so that moisture and humidity don’t affect the curing, or make it take longer.
If you position a tarp down over concrete properly, it might take a little longer to cure, but it will also be done properly, so you shouldn’t have to endure many inconsistencies.
Why Can’t I Cut an Insulated Tarp?
Insulated tarps aren’t like light-duty blue tarps that are just one stretch of material all the way through.
Because they include a form of insulation in the middle (usually foam cells), cutting through one would just make it useless. The insulation would be exposed, and water would get in through the opening.
The only exception is if you happen to have the necessary materials handy to restitch the edges and provide additional fabric to actually close it off.
This would take a lot of time and cost money in materials, when it would otherwise be easier to get a smaller insulated tarp, or just contour your large rone to the project you have in mind and tie down the sides against the item/structure in question.
Are Insulated Tarps More Expensive?
As opposed to standard poly tarps in a thin grade, yes, you’re absolutely going to see a price difference. A 0.006mm poly tarp is not going to maintain any level of warmth, but it will keep the rain out and help protect against the wind, if it’s taut enough.
It sucks that they end up being more costly, but when you look at what you’re getting, it makes complete sense. Insulated tarps are a lot heavier, because there’s a specialized material lining the inside of a two-ply tarp. Insulated tarps also last a lot longer than you think.
How Long Can an Insulated Tarp Last?
While they definitely have a longer life in them than your standard poly tarp, they’re not invincible.
You can expect an insulated tarp to last you for about five years if you take care of them properly. Inspecting them frequently can help you spot wear-and-tear, and protect against potential upcoming issues.
- Abrasions: When the first ply of an insulated tarp is torn, those closed cells still do their job, but now water can get in and create bacterial growth. It still affects the insulation abilities, even if it’s not by a major amount. Check for abrasions that are damaging the lining, and patch them up as you see fit, or find the appropriate chemicals to coat them in.
- Waterproofing: Polyester is waterproof, but not on its own. These tarps are sprayed with a chemical that allows them to be water resistant, and that wear down over time. Once it has, you need to reapply a waterproofing coat (in the correct way), and let it cure so it can be restored to its former glory.
- Tears: Tears are a bigger deal on insulated tarps than they are on standard poly tarps. You just patch up a poly tarp from the outside, and it’s done: that’s all you have to worry about. With insulated tarps, you have to inspect the damage, dry it out, and make sure the closed cells are okay. Only then can you patch it up very carefully, and call it a job well done.
With UV resistance, maintenance, and not putting your tarp through hell when it doesn’t need to be, you can have an insulated tarp for five to ten years (or even more, in some special cases).
Tarps are not a forever kind of purchase, but the insulation definitely helps against the test of time.
Are Insulated Tarps Worth It?
It wholly depends on your needs. If you need to keep your home secure during the winter and keep the heat in, then it’s worth it. If your dog kennel is a full wraparound and you want Fido to stay warm, then it’s worth it.
There are less reasons to buy an insulated tarp than a standard poly tarp, but I’d argue that those reasons are even more important.
Insulated Tarps for Emergencies and More
Insulated tarps serve a fantastic set of purposes, but it only stops at your imagination. If you can think of any other situations where you could use an insulated tarp, then do so; there’s really no limit.
If you’re looking for a good selection of poly tarps that can hold up against rough weather and long winters, take a look at our selection.