A comprehensive comparison of PE (Polyethylene) and PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) tarpaulins to help you make the right choice for your needs, covering material properties, applications, advantages, disadvantages, and frequently asked questions.


Tarpaulins, commonly referred to as tarps, are versatile and indispensable tools. They serve a wide range of purposes, from protecting cargo during transport to providing shelter in outdoor activities. With numerous materials available, it can be challenging to choose the perfect tarp for your needs. This article will provide an in-depth comparison between PE Tarpaulin (Polyethylene) and PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) tarpaulins, discussing their properties, applications, and factors to consider when choosing the right tarpaulin for your specific requirements.

Understanding Tarpaulins

What are Tarpaulins?

Tarpaulins are large sheets of flexible, durable, and often waterproof material used to protect, cover, or secure objects. They come in various sizes, colors, and materials, such as poly tarps, canvas, and vinyl.

Common Materials Used for Tarpaulins

There are several tarpaulin materials fabrics, including but not limited to:

  • PE (Polyethylene) Tarpaulin
  • PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) Tarpaulin
  • Canvas Tarpaulin
  • Vinyl Tarpaulin

PE Tarpaulins

What are PE Tarpaulins?

PE Tarpaulins, also known as polyethylene tarps or HDPE Tarpaulin, are made of woven polyethylene strips and coated with a layer of low-density polyethylene (LDPE). These tarps are lightweight, durable, and typically more affordable than other tarp materials.

Advantages of PE Tarpaulins

PE Tarpaulins offer several benefits, such as:

  • Cost-effective
  • Lightweight and easy to handle
  • Water-resistant and waterproof
  • UV-treated for sun protection
  • Resistant to mold, mildew, and rot
  • Available in various sizes and colors

Disadvantages of PE Tarpaulins

Despite their advantages, PE Tarpaulins also have some drawbacks:

  • Less durable than PVC Tarpaulins
  • Prone to punctures and tears
  • Not as environmentally friendly as canvas tarps

Common Applications of PE Tarpaulins

PE Tarpaulins are widely used for:

PVC Tarpaulins

What are PVC Tarpaulins?

PVC Tarpaulins are made from high-strength polyester fabric coated with polyvinyl chloride (PVC) on both sides. They come in two main types: PVC laminated tarpaulin and PVC coated tarpaulin. These tarps are heavy-duty, highly durable, and resistant to various environmental factors.

Advantages of PVC Tarpaulins

Some of the benefits of using PVC Tarpaulins include:

  • High durability and tear resistance
  • Water-resistant and waterproof
  • UV-treated for sun protection
  • Resistant to chemicals, oil, and grease
  • Flame retardant
  • Available in various sizes, colors, and thicknesses

Disadvantages of PVC Tarpaulins

PVC Tarpaulins have some downsides as well:

  • Higher cost compared to PE Tarpaulins
  • Heavier and harder to handle
  • Less environmentally friendly due to the use of PVC

Common Applications of PVC Tarpaulins

PVC Tarpaulins are ideal for:

  • Heavy-duty tarpaulin applications such as industrial covers and equipment protection
  • Building construction tarpaulin for scaffolding, debris containment, and weather protection
  • Truck and trailer covers
  • Greenhouse covers and agricultural applications
  • Outdoor storage covers
  • Camping and recreational use

PE vs. PVC Tarpaulin Comparison

Material Properties

While PE and PVC Tarpaulins are water-resistant, waterproof, and UV-treated, PVC Tarpaulins are generally more durable, tear-resistant, and resistant to chemicals, oil, and grease.


PE Tarpaulins are more cost-effective than PVC Tarpaulins, making them a popular choice for those with budget constraints.


PVC Tarpaulins offer superior durability and tear resistance compared to PE Tarpaulins, making them suitable for heavy-duty applications and long-term use.

Environmental Impact

PE and PVC Tarpaulins have a higher environmental impact than more eco-friendly alternatives like canvas tarps. PVC Tarpaulins are generally considered less environmentally friendly due to the use of PVC, a material known for its negative impact on the environment.

How to Choose the Right Tarpaulin for Your Needs

Assess Your Requirements

Before selecting a tarpaulin, consider factors such as the intended purpose, required durability, environmental conditions, and budget constraints.

Consider Material Properties

Evaluate the material properties of PE and PVC Tarpaulins, keeping in mind factors such as water resistance, UV protection, and durability.

Evaluate Cost and Environmental Impact

Compare the costs of PE and PVC Tarpaulins, as well as their environmental impact, to make an informed decision based on your budget and eco-consciousness.

Consult a Professional

If you’re unsure which tarpaulin material is best for your needs, consult a tarpaulin supplier or industry professional for expert advice.


PE and PVC Tarpaulins offer unique advantages and disadvantages, making them suitable for different applications. PE Tarpaulins are cost-effective and lightweight, making them ideal for temporary uses and lighter tasks. On the other hand, PVC Tarpaulins are more durable and resistant to various environmental factors, making them suitable for heavy-duty applications and long-term use.

When choosing between PE and PVC Tarpaulins, consider your specific requirements, the material properties, costs, and environmental impact. Consulting a professional tarpaulin supplier can also help you make the right choice based on your needs.


Q1: Are PE Tarpaulins waterproof?

Yes, PE Tarpaulins are water-resistant and waterproof, making them suitable for various applications where water protection is necessary.

Q2: Can PVC Tarpaulins be used for outdoor storage?

Yes, PVC Tarpaulins are ideal for outdoor storage due to their durability, water resistance, and UV protection.

Q3: How do I clean and maintain my tarpaulin?

Cleaning and maintenance depend on the material of the tarpaulin. Generally, you can clean your tarp using mild soap, water, and a soft brush. Rinse thoroughly and allow the tarp to air dry before folding or storing it. Regular inspections for wear and tear can help prolong the life of your tarpaulin.

Q4: Are there eco-friendly alternatives to PE and PVC Tarpaulins?

Yes, canvas tarps are a more environmentally friendly alternative to PE and PVC Tarpaulins. Canvas tarps are made from natural materials such as cotton or hemp and are biodegradable.

Q5: Can I get a custom-sized tarpaulin?

Many tarpaulin suppliers, such as Roctarps, offer custom-made tarpaulins tailored to your specific requirements.

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ROC Tarps, is a professional all types of tarpaulins manufacturer in China. Feel free to contact us. We’re happy to provide you the best service and tarps.

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