Durable tarp?

Has anyone found a durable tarp for outdoor boat storage?

Our boats are stored outside on a rack, covered with a large tarp. The tarps commonly available nowadays at hardware stores or home centers last less than one season before they deteriorate beyond usefulness. Despite being crap, they’re expensive.

Hoping someone can recommend a better product. I can’t afford fitted covers for four canoes and kayaks; if I could I’d go that route.


Sunbrella is durable
I’ve made tarps from this that last and last. I don’t think the cheap blue tarps are expensive. Sunbrella is about $15 per yard for just the cloth.

Other times I’ve used canvas painters drop cloths and painted them with left over house paint.

painters’ tarps
I use painters’ canvas tarps when I have to leave boats outside. You don’t need a cover to be waterproof for boats (obviously), just to protect from sunlight and dirt/leaves. There are narrow standard “runner” sizes like 4’ x 24’ , 5’ x 20’ and 4’ x 15’. I throw a couple of cheap straps or rope around them to keep the tarp from blowing off. Sign up at any Sherwin Williams paint store to get their emails and they often have 50% off coupons. I have bought the 5’ x 20’s there for around $10 on sale. Any building supply store will have them, like Home Depot or Lowes, as well. They do discolor and get some mildew stain on them eventually, but they protect well and hold up for years.

Can you enclose the rack?
Old-fashioned canvas is available in several different weights and lasts quite a long time, but if you think hardware-store tarps are expensive, wait till you check the price of canvas. Personally, I consider the woven-plastic tarps to be dirt-cheap, so cheap that I really don’t mind replacing them periodically. I have one covering a utility trailer, but I built a crude “roof” that bolts to the trailer because such tarps will last may times longer if they are flush against some kind of backing material instead of just being in contact with high spots and corners. That brings brings up another option. Can you just build a roof and walls for your storage rack? Even if just built from painted plywood, that ought to be good for 20 years or more before you might want to do it all again.

The next step up from cheap woven-plastic tarps is the stuff with the silver coating where the tarp itself is made from a material more like regular fabric. I have no idea what this material is called, and I expect that it costs more.

Most any long lasting tarp
will be expensive. Maybe consider Tyvek? Might be time to build a shed.

Durable tarp?
Thanks for the suggestions, guys. Covering the whole rack requires a pretty large tarp. I designed the rack for this. It worked fine, until the tarp quality changed. Used to be, a generic tarp from Home Depot lasted 2 or 3 years, now one won’t make it through a single summer. At around $60 each, call it expensive or not, I feel ripped off.

Building a boat shed, in my tiny yard, is not an option. If only I had the space…

I’ll explore the suggestions you’ve all offered.

Had good luck
using the silver tarps. They last about five years. I had three canoes that needed covers this spring. I bought a 15x20 silver tarp and cut it into three 5x20 pieces. I laid the pieces on the upside down canoes and traced the outlines of the gunwales. Then I cut to fit and made tie-down loops out of Gorilla duct tape - eight loops, four ties across the gunwales per canoe. I also split pool noodles lengthwise and fastened them inside the cover along the keel line with cable ties to allow air circulation. The whole project, three covers, took a half a day and cost about 100 bucks.


nail it

.25 SQ FT ?

Durable tarp?
Clever. I like the noodle idea. I built a hinged lid for my whole rack that has bent 3/4" PVC “ribs” to hold the tarp off the top row of boats.

Where are you getting your silver tarps? Last one I bought (one side silver, the other brown), at Lowes, didn’t last more than 6 months.

The last one
was bought at a True Value hardware store. The one before that, which did last five years, came from Lowes. I’m in CT. Can it be that your tarps are exposed to stronger tropical sun? Also, I don’t consider them unserviceable just because they leak.


Durable tarp?
Same climate, Peter - Pennsylvania. What I’ve been experiencing is the polyethylene surface starts to flake off and then a few months later the woven fiber base splits open. I’m leaning toward trying a vinyl tarp. They’re significantly more expensive but sound sturdier, judging from manufacturers’ descriptions.


silver trap

– Last Updated: Nov-15-15 6:56 PM EST –

I bought a silver tarp about 3 years ago. It's showing some signs of wear but no UV damage.

go to a boat yard and get some shrink wrap in white cheap and last a long time

Sunbrella fabric
would be the best option for longevity…it is what awnings and boat covers are made from. Solution dyed acrylic so it doesn’t fade or rot…think it comes with a 3 or 5 year warranty from the manufacturer. Does come in different thicknesses so ask for the awning grade…a bit more than the furniture grade.

Sold it as a manufacturers rep for outdoor furniture for decades and had only one instance of a problem in thousands of sales.

EPDM roofing material
I had some EPDM roof membrane left over from renovation/demolition at my house. I don’t need to worry about boat storage, but I do use it to cover firewood piles. The material has lasted for 16 years now and still shows no sign of UV deterioration.

The stuff is not cheap - probably $300 for a 10’x50’ section - but you likely will never need to replace it.

good grief !

2 for the lawn

– Last Updated: Nov-16-15 12:36 PM EST –



2 rational constructions.

Add rafters for onduline possibly as carry off panels, fold down and carry off…..
And your in.

Use construction screws or lath screws with an electric drill.
Bolt/stake/guy to ground.

Google UV resistant tarps
I did that five years ago and bought a big white one from some outfit in Georgia to go over my boat rack.

I’ll probably replace it next year.

Green on one side siver on other
last me 3 to 4 years. I get large ones and fold in half, then flip when one side gets degraded.