How to Paint a Tarp

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Things You'll Need

  • Plywood sheet

  • Canvas tarp

  • Fabric paint

  • Brushes

Proper preparation and paint application is essential for painting on a tarp.

Tarps are commonly cover truck beds and trailers and hay bales and they provide floor protection when painting and numerous other uses. Made of both plastic and canvas materials, tarps are available in a wide range of finished sizes to meet the needs of the user. Canvas tarps are also a suitable medium for paint application when creating a mural or sign. Proper paint and application is essential to the project.

Step 1

Choose a flat location for painting the canvas tarp. Select a concrete floor or similar area that is free of dirt, debris or rough objects. Consider placing a thin sheet of plywood on the floor to help prevent paint from bleeding through the canvas and onto the floor.

Step 2

Spread the canvas tarp out on the floor so it is flat. Pull the edges of the tarp to release wrinkles. Leave the tarp stretched on the floor for a day or so to allow wrinkles to work out of the canvas.

Step 3

Choose paints in the colors of choice that are specifically designed for use on fabrics including canvas. Select paint brushes in the size and shape you need for the lettering or art work that is going on the canvas.

Step 4

Dip a paintbrush into the fabric paint. Apply the paint to the canvas tarp with the end of the paintbrush bristles. Push the paint into the porous tarp fabric rather than brushing on.

Step 5

Consider applying a base coat of paint or fabric primer to areas on the canvas where a larger image or picture will be painted. Allow the base coat or primer to dry so you can apply subsequent applications of paint by brushing rather than pushing the paint onto the canvas material.


Keith Dooley

Keith Dooley has a degree in outdoor education and sports management. He has worked as an assistant athletic director, head coach and assistant coach in various sports including football, softball and golf. Dooley has worked for various websites in the past, contributing instructional articles on a wide variety of topics.