13 Feb

When to Use Flatbed Tarps and What Kind to Use

Loads on flatbed trucks have to be fastened to the flatbed for safe transportation. However, in many cases, it’s also helpful to use a tarp. Flatbed tarps protect the load from the weather and provide increased fastening power and a tighter hold on the cargo.


Not all loads need flatbed tarps, but if your load is susceptible to weather, you should use one. You don’t want your products to arrive to your client’s in a damaged state because the weather forecast was wrong and it rained. Iron products and other materials that contain iron alloys may rust. Other metals might corrode. Whether this can be a potential problem that requires a tarp is something your engineers should consider.

On the other hand, buying or renting flatbed tarps is a cost and you shouldn’t use one if it’s not necessary. Certain types of heavy-duty machinery and materials often don’t require a tarp. It may also be the case that your product is so big that using a tarp is not practical, although it is rare that such products need a tarp.

If your load does need a tarp, you have to decide what kind of tarp you need. There are several options for you to choose from:

Steel Flatbed Tarps

A steel tarp is usually 4-sided and it doesn’t include a flap. It has rings and ropes running through them. They are normally used for low-profile loads of steel. They are made of polyester. If you’re transporting rods, steel cables, or steel sheets, get a steel flatbed tarp.

Dump Truck Tarps

These tarps are specially designed for dump trucks, not flatbeds. They are used when transporting asphalt or gravel or similar materials that don’t require protection against the weather. You won’t be using these if you use a flatbed truck but you should know about them in case an unethical vendor tries to sell you one.

Machinery Flatbed Tarps

These are larger versions of steel tarps that are used to protect heavy machinery against weather elements. Open vehicles and machines require these tarps since weather damage can be very costly.

Lumber Flatbed Tarps

These tarps are used to transport lumber. They are simpler than other flatbed tarps and have a flap at the end to cover the ends of the lumber.

In addition to the type of flatbed tarp you’re going to use, you’ll also have to consider the material of the tarp. Some materials provide better protection against certain elements, like heat or humidity, or provide other benefits, like ventilation or containment of small particles. It is recommended that you learn a bit about tarps even if you hire a shipping company so you’ll better understand what your options are.


Call Nationwide today to find out how we can help you with your Flatbed Shipping needs.

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