Considerations for your Utility Trailer Cover

Utility Trailer Cover IdeasIf you are looking for a new tarp to cover your utility trailer there are a number of things you need to consider before you place an order. Please review this article to make sure you get the size and material you need.


Generally speaking, utility trailer tarps are purchased for two main reasons:

  1. To contain the payload to keep it from falling out during transit. Most municipalities have a bi-law that requires trailers to be covered while in motion to keep debris from flying out onto the road or nearby vehicles. If this is the main reason you are buying a tarp you should consider a mesh tarp. Our 60% mesh tarps are often used for this purpose. If you are hauling sawdust consider using our sawdust mesh. If you carry wood chips, we also have a chip mesh. The advantage of mesh tarps is that they don't catch the wind the way a solid tarp can.
  2. To keep the trailer or its contents dry you will want a waterproof tarp. In most cases, waterproof tarps are made from 18 oz vinyl. Solid vinyl tarps can be used to secure the contents of the trailer with the added benefit of helping to protect the contents or preserve the life of your trailer.

Fitted vs. Flat

Another decision you will need to make is whether to order a simple rectangular tarp or a fitted tarp shaped like a box top. Fitted tarps provide a cleaner look since the corners are sewn and you don't have to tuck in the excess material that normally forms in the corners of a flat tarp. Fitted tarps are more expensive since they require more sewing. There is also something in between fitted and flat where we cut out the corners but don't sew the corners together. Instead we make a flap that can be tied closed using grommets.

Tarp Sizing

If you are ordering a fitted or flapped tarp it is important to ensure the size is very accurate. In the order screen you need to specify the size if the "box top" as well as the distance to go down the sides. The box top should be about one inch larger (in both directions) than the size of the trailer top. This gives us a bit of tolerance since if it too tight it won't slip on and off.

Sizing flat tarps is a little easier. For these you need to decide how far you want the tarp to come down the sides, then you add twice this distance to the width and length of the trailer to get the tarp size. For example, if the top of your trailer is 4' x 7' and you want it to come down the side of the trailer by one foot you would order a tarp that is 6' x 9'.

When measuring how far down the sides of the trailer you want the tarp to go there are a few things you should consider:

  1. Avoid fenders and other obstructions on the side of the trailer. If these can't be avoided we can add cut-outs to accommodate these.
  2. Make sure the hooks or other fasteners are below the distance that the tarp comes down the side. For example, if you have hooks two feet down the side of your trailer you would not want the tarp to come down more that say about 20 inches so that there is a gap of at least 4" between the tarp and the fasteners. This will allow you to pull the tarp snugly using the fasteners.
  3. Also consider how tall you plan to make the "payload" you will be hauling. For example, if you want to haul furniture that sticks up a foot from the top of the trailer, you may want to make the tarp a couple of feet longer and wider to ensure that the furniture can be fully covered.
  4. If your tarp is waterproof, you have to have a strategy for allowing water to drain off the tarp. This might also require the tarp to be made a little wider to create a "valley" in the tarp to allow it to shed water. You can learn more about this in the blog: preventing water from pooling in your tarp.

Grommet Spacing

Grommets are the eyelets we add to the side of the tarp to allow you to secure it. You will want to specify sufficient grommets to allow you to secure the tarp tightly. You want to avoid having the tarp flap in the wind while travelling since this "wind whip" can cause the tarp to age rapidly. At the same time you don't want so many fasteners that if becomes too time consuming to fasten the tarp.  Also, there is no point in having a lot of grommets if you don't have places on the trailer to attach them to. In most cases, having a grommet every two feet of so is sufficient.

Tarp Color

You will also need to choose a color for your tarp. The color you choose will often depend on whether you want to tarp to be somewhat camouflaged or discreet vs. bright and conspicuous. Also dark colors will tend to get hotter than light colors.

Follow this link to learn more about ordering a utility trailer tarp. If you are not sure about anything we describe here give us a call before you place your order and we will try to give you the best advice.