In nearly all states, a truck load must be covered in transit. An exposed load, be it of gravel, rocks, or lumber, is a hazard to motorists, creates more litter along the sides of roads, and adds more dust to the air. The easiest way to cover the load in any truck is with a tarp, and vinyl, polyethylene, and mesh are all used. Truck tarps, however, are cut specifically for certain load and bed sizes, with flatbed and dump trucks being the two general options.
For a flatbed truck, the truck tarp must be secured around the load first before the load is secured to the truck. Flatbed truck tarps, in this case, are made with various dimensions to fit around a load and, when fully secured, have a box shape. Lumber is a common item transported in a flatbed truck and, as a result, flatbed truck tarps are designed to fully protect and shield a load of wood from water, moisture, and UV rays.
Dump truck tarps, on the other hand, have a typical design and attach by way of grommets or D-rings. Instead of being fitted over the load directly, the material is attached to the bed of the truck either manually or electrically. In the case of manual dump truck tarps, the tarp is attached by hand and is either released with a rope or is gear and chain driven. Wind whip, however, is a common problem for many dump truck tarps, and those applying the material need to see that the tension is just right – not too tight so that the material tears but not too loose, either.
Truck tarps are made with vinyl, polyethylene, and mesh. If a load needs to be protected from UV and water exposure, a vinyl or polyethylene tarp should be used. Vinyl is considered the strongest material available and provides heavy-duty coverage. Polyethylene offers a similar amount of protection. Mesh or polypropylene, on the other hand, is used when the load can be exposed to water. While lumber and asphalt, for example, may benefit from protection by a vinyl or polyethylene material, gravel and rocks can be kept inside the truck bed by a mesh tarp.