What Happens to Tensile Strength Over Time?


At Acadian Industrial Textiles, our goal is to help you sell more products. And one of the most effective ways to sell anything is to make sure that you understand the properties of the products you’re selling so you can answer customer questions with confidence.

In this blog series, we provide information about the technical specifications and testing criteria for our industrial textiles. The more you know about how these fabrics work and which applications they’re best suited for, the better you can sell them!

What is tensile strength?

Tensile strength is the measure of a material’s ability to withstand a pulling (tensile) force. For many of your customers, a fabric’s ability to resist breaking under tensile stress will be a key factor in whether or not they make a purchase. After all, if a truck tarp material has a low tensile strength, it wouldn’t be worth your customer’s investment. For a more in-depth look at tensile strength, watch our short video.

What affects tensile strength over time?

A material’s tensile strength, which is measured in units of force per cross-sectional area (i.e. lbs. per square inch), will change throughout the life of the material. This change can be attributed to the composition of the material as well as outside forces like wind, rain, and sun damage. As the fabric’s material breaks down from natural wear and tear, moisture, and weather damage, its ability to withstand a tensile force will lessen, meaning its tensile strength will be lower.

Not surprisingly, excess sunlight can be one of the biggest contributing factors to reduced tensile strength. All materials absorb sunlight radiation, which leads to degradation over time by breaking down the polymer chains in fabric fibers.

How can additives help?

While there’s nothing that can be done to completely maintain a fabric’s original tensile strength, there are stabilizers and additives that help slow down the tensile strength degradation process.

Carbon black

Carbon black is an ultraviolet (UV) stabilizer that can be used to absorb damaging UV light and transform the energy of the rays so that the heat from the sun is dissipated throughout the fabric harmlessly. Learn more about carbon black here.

UV inhibitors

UV inhibitor additives can make a fabric more resistant to harmful UV rays. UV inhibitors are added as a finishing treatment to material by applying a coating of resistant particles that absorb and scatter radiation, increasing the fabric’s UV resistance. Learn more about UV inhibitors here.

Typically, both carbon black and UV inhibitors are added to all outdoor use fabrics to help with longevity.

What else can help maintain tensile strength?

Additionally, your customers can take extra precautions to help maintain their fabric’s tensile strength by remembering the following tips:

  • Do not leave the fabric or tarp in the sun any more than is necessary to limit sun exposure.
  • Ensure that tarp is properly secured if it’s on a truck. A flapping tarp will wear out sooner than a well-secured one.

Want to learn more about tensile strength? Download our free PDF with everything you need to know about tensile strength.