A tarp, also known as a tarpaulin, is a water resistant cover that has a variety of uses. Typically made of canvas or flexible plastic, a tarp can serve as a cover or protected surface for many crafts and activities. Tarps are often available at home and garden stores or camping supply centers.
Although the history of the word is not certain, many believe that tarps were pieces of canvas or sailcloth used on ships that had been coated with tar to provide water resistance. By wrapping or covering goods with tarps, sailors could protect them from wind, rain, and storm damage. Some suggest that the reason sailors are referred to as “tars” is related to this practice.
Today, tarps are made of more user-friendly materials, and can be extremely useful in a variety of projects. If painting a room or interior, laying down a tarp can prevent paint spills and splatters from damaging floors. To hold the tarp in place, tape down with masking tape or weigh down with objects. Furnishings in the room can also be covered with tarps for protection, but it is often easier to simply move them out.
Tarps are endlessly useful to campers and backpackers. In addition to providing a cheap alternative to more expensive groundcloths, they can be tied over tents for extra rain protection. If hiking in the rain, a tarp can be tied over backpacks and camping equipment to prevent water from seeping through and soaking food, clothing, and equipment. A tarp can also make an excellent backyard tent for younger explorers, particularly when propped up with sticks.
Around the yard, a tarp is a multi-use tool that can help in many situations. Carrying raked leaves or debris to a dumpster is made considerably more easy if piled atop tarps that can be dragged. If installing a pond for a special event or for kid's play, a tarp is a cheap alternative to expensive pond liners. Simply dig a hole and line it with the tarp, weighing the material down with pebbles on the bottom and rocks around the exterior. The remaining material can be covered with moss, gravel, or more artfully placed rocks.
Tarps are frequently used to protect truck cargo from the elements. Many tarps feature embedded rings around the edges that allow for the tarp to be tied down and secured with rope. Some tarps are specially made for use with pick-up trucks, being easily attachable to certain features on the truck bed.