Repairing Tarp Tears When On The Road

A tarp system makes covering your load much quicker and easier, which means your drivers are much more likely to do so correctly. Not only does this protect the items you are transporting, but in some states it's the law to keep loads – especially items like gravel – under cover during transport. The following guide can help you manage any damage that occurs, allowing you to protect your investment in working tarp systems.

Why Repair on the Road?

It may seem counterintuitive to repair a tarp system or to train your drivers in temporary repairs. Wouldn't it be better to wait for a professional job? There are a couple of issues with waiting:

  • A small tear can quickly become a big rip when exposed to flapping and wind on the highway. This could ruin the entire system.

  • Larger tears or holes may not properly cover the load, leading to damage of products or improper covering of the load by legal standards.

Damage Assessment

The extent of the damage will determine whether repairs should be treated as short-term temporary or long-term temporary. You can make long-term repairs on locations that aren't stress points. This means seams, tie downs, and corners are all only short-term repairs designed to get the truck to the next available professional for a full repair. For long-term temporary repairs, you can usually get the truck to its destination before repairing, or even wait until normal maintenance on the vehicle to schedule the permanent repair.

The Right Tool

Most repairs are best done with simple medium-duty tarp tape. Do not use duct tape, as it is not UV-resistant and the adhesives in duct tape could damage the tarp. Tarp tape is made of UV-resistant fibers, similar to the fibers in the actual tarp. It has a strong adhesive backing that stays affixed, but it is designed not to damage the tarp when the tape is removed. This means that using the tape doesn't prevent a professional heat bonded repair later.

Application Methods

Application on non-stress tears is as follows:

  1. Make sure the area of the tarp is dry and clean.

  2. Flatten the tarp as much as possible so that both sides of the tarp are as flush as they can get.

  3. Tape over the ends of the rip, placing a strip of tape perpendicular to the direction of the tear. This prevents it from spreading.

  4. Place another piece of tape down the length of the tear, overlapping this piece over the end pieces of tape.

  5. Flip the tarp over and tape on the back side, too.

Stress points usually require more creative taping, and the repair still won't hold up for more than just a short trip. Generally, you will want to tape along the tear as directed above, and then run a second piece of tape perpendicular over the ends of the tape covering the tear for added strength.