Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Canvas: The High Tech Tarp

Part of this post was spurned off of my recent search for tenting, and part of it came from Zoe's post on Inexpensive Interior Decorating at CollabNarration.

I don't know about you all, but I've seen enough plastic tarps used as walls to last a life time.

Don't get me wrong. Tarps have some pretty serious function and can be used for a number of things. And you can't beat the price, so I'm not suggesting that anyone throw out all their old tarps.

But I do want to suggest another option for walls and decor - Canvas Drop Cloths.

Canvas beats out tarps in almost every category. It's easier to fold. It's easy to dye. It takes paint well. It's easily molded. It doesn't make a lot of unnecessary noise.

However, there is one striking difference between the two. Plastic tarps are significantly less expensive. You can get two tarps for the price of one drop cloth, and that doesn't come with any grommets. And if you want your canvas to be water resilient, then you'll probably have to spend more. Fire resistant, and you're talking even more.

But man, can they ever look awesome!

So if you're trying to find a way to level up your game, getting some canvas for decor might be a great thing to try. You can make some really excellent, immersive props if make the leap.

You can find canvas painter's drop cloths at any major hardware store, and they come in some large sizes. If you're not worried about using your canvas to keep water out, you could easily go with a 6 oz (rarer) or 8 oz (common) to save money and weight. If you need to protect from water, you'll probably need to move up to 10 or 12 oz stuff.

You guys have any other good ideas for props used to decor/walls?


  1. Another thing to keep in mind is that canvas, which I love, dose also weigh more. So if you are used to hanging you tarp walls with a couple of thumbtacks you need to know that may not be enough for canvas.

  2. I'm always surprised people overlook canvas-- it's sturdy, and you can paint on it. Plus, it's waaay less noisy than tarp, which can kill a good sneaking attempt. Burlap, not nearly as durable, but cheap, can also provide a really cool effect-- especially if you're in an underground tomb or something. It would be interesting to run a couple of mods with decorated canvas, and then a couple, same weekend, with plain tarp. I wonder if people would comment/notice.

  3. I love the idea of canvas...the big drawback I see in using canvas is that it molds/mildews very, very easily. If you are using it inside, there is less of a chance, obviously, but if it is in a particularly damp camp (like Lewis) the possibility still exists. If you are using it to do the outside of a building (like a shelter) they will get wet for sure. So as long as you are prepared to lay them out and dry them, they'll work. You can also wash them, which is awesome, but then painting them is kinda out (though dye is totally still in).

    Just somethin' to consider.

    You also asked about other options---there are the plastic made walls, but those totally suck and rip.

    You can also just use cloth. You can get muslin extremely cheap (sometimes less than 1.00 a yard). You could get them the length you wanted, then sew them together. You could probably do a 20 ft. stretch in a standard mod building that's 8-10 feet high for 20-25. They wash much easier than canvas, look like canvas, also take paint and dye and are lighter.


  4. I made a folding wooden screen out of plywood and hinges a few years ago. It's been painted over several times and reused in various places. My screen has bentwood doors, but you could use anything. Two pieces of plywood, 10 hinges and screws, some paint. Not too pricey, high impact. (The plywood was cut into 6 panels, the smallest being 2X2, 4X2, and 6X2. Arranged with the tallest in the center to form an archway with a bentwood door. But it could be made in virtually any configuration.