How To Waterproof A Tent?

If you want to go camping in your tent, it is essential that the tent is waterproof. If you have an old tent, make sure you check it for holes, waterproof efficiency, and so on…

However, things happen. You may be already camping when you realize your tent isn’t waterproof for any reason or you may be checking it before you leave and you don’t have time or money to buy a new one. What do in these cases?

Well, knowing how to waterproof a tent can solve a lot of issues. This is why we’re discussing this topic in this useful article.


Why Do You Need To Waterproof A Tent?

It is way too uncomfortable to sleep in a tent that’s leaking or has puddles of water in it.

You will not be able to stay warm if your tent is wet, your waterlogged gears won’t perform right, damp shoes will lead to blisters, warm clothes will be damp and irritating to wear, and whatnot.

So this is why waterproofing your tent is extremely important. Many modern tents come with sealed seams, but they may not work effectively in cheap-quality tents.

Even good quality tents start losing their waterproof coating with wear and tear.

So it is important to learn how to waterproof your tent.

Does Waterproofing a Tent Even Work?

Does Waterproofing a Tent Even Work

Waterproofing tent does work to a good extent, but not completely. Meaning in case of light rain or any other water-related mishaps, you will remain untouched.

But during extremely heavy rain or blizzered, some amount of water may seep into the corners.

In extreme situations, even the most expensive and high-quality tent may not work properly.

But regardless, it is always a good idea to buy a waterproof tent or to reapply a coating to the old ones.

Read: How To Cool A Grow Tent?

How to waterproof a tent?

How to waterproof a tent

There are three main methods to waterproof your tent.

1. Seal the seams

When the tent gets older, water can begin filtering through the tent seams.

Therefore, the main method to waterproof your tent is to seal the seams. This is, other than a remedy, a good maintenance intervention for your tent.

How can you seal your tent seams?

  1. The best way is to purchase a seam sealer (make sure you purchase one that is suitable for your tent’s materials.) 
  2. Begin by wiping the tent seam with a wet cloth, followed by cleaning it with rubbing alcohol to get rid of the glue that was holding the tent seams originally.
  3. Now start brushing the seam with a specialized sealer. A little brush is always provided with the seam sealer, and you can use it to brush all the seams with the product. Make sure the coating is a millimeter thick, to get the perfect amount of coating.
  4. The last step is to wipe off the excess and now leave the tent in the shade or indoors for at least six hours so that the sealer dries out completely.

It may be long and boring, but you can save tons of money with this method (because you can use your tent for another season instead of buying a new tent).

Also Read: How To Keep A Tent Cool?

2. Refresh the coating

Sometimes, tents are made waterproof using a coating, which is usually urethane.

With time, the coating can become thinner and thinner, and that’s why your tent is not waterproof anymore.

How to waterproof your tent again?

  1. To make your tent waterproof again, you can refresh the urethane coating with a tent sealant. You need to purchase one that is suitable for your tent’s material.
  2. Being by setting up and cleaning your tent just like you do after camping.
  3. Once your tent is cleaned up, spray it with DWR on the outside, you do not have to spray it on the inside. Now wipe any excess out by using a dry cloth. Usually, you need to spread the product over the entire external surface of the tent with a simple sponge. Now give your tent an even coating and leave it untouched for 12-24 hours.

3. Apply a Rain/water repellent

To improve the waterproof efficiency, you could also apply a water repellent.

Water repellent creates an effect that lets water drops slip away from the surface. It is the same user, for example, on drivers’ helmet visors.

How to apply a rain/water repellent?

  1. Applying the water repellent is quite easy: you need to spread the product through the surface of the tent with a big brush.
  2. All these methods require that you mount your tent before treating it. This is ideal because it forces you to mount and check the state of your tent before you leave. 
  3. However, you also have a second option. Purchase the product you need for waterproof maintenance before you leave for camping and bring them with you.
  4. Once you are on the location, build up your tent and treat it with the waterproof product. This way, you’d be mounting the tent only once, and you’ll be performing regular maintenance on your tent.


Also Read: How To Clean A Tent That Smells?

Also Read: How Do We Review A Tent?

See These Tips From Reddit Users

advice for waterproofing a tent?
by u/the_ashleyrose in camping

How To Apply DWR On Your Tent?

How Does the Tent Loose its Waterproofness?

Tents, too, wear out with time, and so does their waterproofness. Washing it after each use with soap or water, dirt, dust, and oil particles also affect its waterproof coating.

Also, sunlight or rain water while camping also fades out the waterproof coating of the tent, so it is important to reapply the waterproof coating on the tent from time to time.

How to Waterproof a Canvas Tent?

Canvas tents are one of the most luxurious and durable tents, but waterproofing them is different from waterproofing a nylon tent.

To make your Canvas tent waterproof, simply set it up and leave it to get wet and dry a few times. This will make the tent’s fibers contract and make it naturally waterproof. This process is called “Weathering.”

This process will make the canvas tent relatively waterproof, but you will need to give it a re-fresh from time to time.

You can also use a silicon-based waterproofing product to make your canvas tent waterproof.


Camping Mistakes to Avoid in Wet Weather

Wrapping Up

So no matter how good the quality of a tent you buy, over time, its waterproof quality will start to diminish, and you will need to re-apply the water proof coating from time to time.

This is important to keep yourself dry and worry-free even if it rains on your camping day.


When should I waterproof my tent?

If you are wondering how to know if it’s time to waterproof my tent, then you can determine this easily.

  • Look for any pealing on the outer covering of your tent. If you see the waterproof covering peeling off from the tent, then that’s your cue.
  • If you experience any leaks while camping, then you should re-coat it.
  • You can also set up your tent in your backyard and pour water on top. If the tent leaks, then you know what to do.

How to check the rainfly for waterproofness?

Set up the rainfly in your backyard on a warm sunny day and spray it with water using a hose.

If the water saturates and leaks, then you will know it’s time to waterproof it, and if the water runs off, then it is alright.

Can I spray my sleeping bag, backpack, etc. with DWR?

If your sleeping bag, backpack, etc., are made of nylon or polyester, then it is most likely treated with DWR already.

But with time, the coating may wear off, so yes, you can spray them with DWR to make them waterproof.

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