How to glue tarps

Written by nick senzee
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How to glue tarps
You can use a soldering iron to fuse plastic tarps together. (soldering woodburning kit image by Steve Johnson from

Good tarps are a necessity in the winter time. They do everything from keeping firewood dry to aiding in holiday decorating. Sometimes you can get a good deal on smaller tarps, which you can then fit together into a custom size. To do this, you can use a good tarp tape, tarp glue (which works only on vinyl tarps, not the more common polythene ones), or you can use a soldering gun or plastic welder to "glue" two tarps together by fusing the plastic they're made of.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Polythene tarp
  • Plastic welder, soldering gun or tarp tape
  • Vinyl tarp
  • Duct tape (optional)
  • Tarp glue
  • Heat-resistant gloves

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  1. 1

    Lay out the tarps as you want to glue them, and line up the seams to match each other neatly. You may want to tack the tarps in place using some duct tape or other tape.

    How to glue tarps
    You can bond vinyl tarps together using glue. (glue bottle image by Bruce MacQueen from
  2. 2

    Apply the specially formulated plastic glue to the two tarps to be attached as directed in the packaging. Lay down a line of glue in lengths short enough for you to manage easily, while keeping the tarp straight and even. Don't expose the glue to air long enough for it to begin drying.

  3. 3

    Smooth down the seam and make sure there are no gaps in the seam where the tarps' waterproofing could be compromised. If there are gaps, go back and put more glue in those areas.

  1. 1

    Lay one tarp down flat on a large work surface. Position the other tarp as desired, but folded back onto itself at the area where the seam is to be.

    How to glue tarps
    Polythene tarps are often blue, but certainly don't have to be. (painter's supplies image by Tammy Mobley from
  2. 2

    Working with manageable-sized chunks of seam (about 15 cms (6 inches) or so), use the welder or soldering iron and direct it at the plastic welding rod, leaving a small bead of plastic near the fold on the tarp that is laid out flat.

  3. 3

    Unfold the second tarp to overlap the first quickly, while the bead is hot. Using your gloved hand, press the two layers of tarp together. This should result in a watertight seam.

Tips and warnings

  • Two kinds of tarps are generally available. The first, and older kind, is made of vinyl. The newer, lighter-weight kind is made of polythene. You can tell them apart because polythene is lighter, crinkly, and also has a small woven pattern in it. Vinyl is heavier and has a smooth surface.
  • Since many tarps are huge, be sure to test your methods before involving a huge stretch of tarp. Try it with patches of old tarp first.
  • Pay careful attention to melted plastic, as it can burn you.

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