How to Apply Grommets to a Tarp

Written by april kohl
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How to Apply Grommets to a Tarp
Grommets allow tarps to be fastened over other objects under tension. (routier image by ninice64 from

Grommets are rings of metal, or sometimes other hard-wearing materials, which are used to reinforce holes in other materials, such as tarpaulins, shoes and cloth. They are simple to apply and will potentially last for years, maintaining their position even under tension. This makes them excellent reinforcements for use on tents.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Tarp
  • Pen
  • Saddler's punch
  • Hammer
  • Grommet
  • Grommet pliers
  • Block of wood

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  1. 1

    Mark where the grommet will be applied with a marker pen. This will make it easier to line up the grommet pliers in the correct position. Mark a point in an area where there is a fold in the tarp, which doubles the thickness of the material, plus stitching. This will increase the strength of the grommet, decreasing the likelihood of tears.

  2. 2

    Place a block of wood under the tarp, to protect the surface below. Position the saddler's punch so the point is against the mark you made on the tarp indicating grommet placement. Hit the punch firmly with the hammer until the punch cuts a hole through the tarp.

  3. 3

    Slip one side of the grommet under the tarp and push the teeth of the grommet through the hole you just punched. Place the other half of the grommet on top of the tarp so its teeth are facing down into the hole. Pinch the two halves of the grommet between the flats of the grommet pliers. Close the pliers and squeeze hard, to lock the grommet in place.

Tips and warnings

  • You don't need to punch a hole for the grommet if you are confident that you are strong enough to pinch through the tarp when fastening the grommet on. The teeth of the grommet will cut through the tarp when placed under sufficient pressure, leaving a small, round piece of fabric to be pushed out from the middle of the grommet once you have pressed down on the pliers.
  • When using the saddler's punch, remember to place a wooden block or other hard surface beneath the tarp before hammering on the punch. If you do not do this, the punch can easily damage any surface it is resting on. This causes damage that is either expensive or impossible to repair, so always use a disposable or replaceable work surface to rest on.

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