Waterproofing for canvas tents is easy and simple. You first need to season your canvas tent by soaking it in water. Then use a good quality waterproofing spray to seal the tiny holes in the canvas to prevent leaks in the rain.

In this guide, we will elaborate on how to waterproof a canvas tent and give you plenty of reasons why canvas should be seasoned first for better waterproofing. Read out to learn more.

Learn more about Are Tents Waterproof?

Do Canvas Tents Need Waterproofing?

Though canvas material has a water-resistant ability, it is not 100% waterproof. To enhance its waterproofing, you will need to treat it with a special waterproofing spray that can either be fluoropolymer or silicone-based.

Without it, the water will seep into the fabric if the tent gets wet. This will also lead to increase mold and mildew growth. Your canvas tent will be ruined without waterproofing.

Therefore, treating your canvas tent with proper care is crucial to keep it in a good state.

How Do I Waterproof My Canvas Tent?

How Do I Waterproof My Canvas Tent

Waterproofing a canvas tent involves two steps: seasoning and waterproofing your tent. But before heading into seasoning and waterproofing, you must know the difference between these two.

Seasoning For Canvas Tent

Multiple tiny holes inside the woven fabric of canvas allow water to enter the tent. Your tent will swell up if it is completely wet. The swelling is beneficial in preventing water from entering through the holes.

The new tent will take several hours of the storm to fully wet the tent to swell up and prevent leaks which is definitely not in your favor. So, to keep yourself safe from soaking in the tent, you must season it. Seasoning doesn’t mean you have to add salt and spices to your tent, but simply soak it in water to block all the leaking holes.

Waterproofing For Canvas Tent

If you are wondering why do I have to waterproof my canvas tent if I am getting the same results after seasoning? Surprisingly, seasoning isn’t a permanent treatment for canvas tents, as leaks will open up when your tent gets old. Waterproofing will seal all holes permanently if you season it first.

Both processes are important and ensure the best results but remember, waterproofing may reduce the breathability of your tent.

Waterproofing For Canvas Tents - Season & Waterproof A Tent

Like waterproofing, seasoning is more necessary for your canvas tent. You can season a tent without waterproofing, but you can’t waterproof a canvas tent without seasoning. Even if you could, the results won’t be beneficial.

For better results, it is highly recommended to waterproof a canvas tent for camping during hot summer weather.

Step 1: Set Up Your Canvas Tent

  • Set up your canvas tent on a large ground.
  • Choose an area which you can wet without worrying.
  • After setting the tent, close its doors and all windows.
Set Up Your Canvas Tent

Step 2: Wet It Properly

  • Take a hose to wet your tent.
  • Choose a hose that sprays like heavy rainfall.
  • Spray cold water on parts of your tent, including all seams.
  • Drench your tent with water for at least 5 minutes.
  • Get inside the tent to see if any hole is open to allow sun rays to pass through it. If sun rays are entering your tent, wet it more for blockage.
  • Once it is fully drenched, leave it for sufficient time to dry.

After drying your tent, soak it again using cold water the same way you did before. Leave it to dry out.

Step 3: Test Your Tent’s Strength

  • Test the strength of your tent in normal and heavy rainy weather.
  • Check it from the inside to see if there are leaks, and seal them using a waterproofing spray.
  • Leave it to dry before packing.

Seasoning can help only for a few months, and you need to re-season it after every 12 months. But a waterproofing canvas tent will give even better and everlasting results.

Step 4: Get A Waterproofing Product

Get A Waterproofing Product

Usually, two products mainly used for waterproofing are silicone and fluoropolymer sprays. Both contain silicone rubber, but fluoropolymer's weather, oil, and water-resistant properties are more prominent.

Lay your canvas tent on a flat surface. This will allow us to deal with all leaky parts of the tent by coating them with waterproofing spray.

Step 5: Clean The Tent From Debris

If you have a new tent, you will not need to clean it, but spot cleaning is essential for old tents with piles of dirt. You won’t be able to waterproof your tent if it’s uncleaned.

  • Prepare a mixture of 1 cup of vinegar by adding it to 1 gallon of water. You can also add salt and a few drops of lemon juice to make the solution more effective.
  • Or you can spot-clean your canvas tent with mild dishwashing liquid soap. Make sure to avoid using any ingredient containing bleach.
  • Take a brush and dip it inside the vinegar solution.
  • Scrub the dirty parts of the tent to remove stains. You can also clean mold and mildews with the mixture.
  • Wash the tent using the hose from top to bottom.

Step 6: Apply Waterproofing Spray

  • Apply a waterproofing spray to seal all the seams on your tent.
  • You must also spray on the areas where the tent has leaks. Or just spray it on the entire tent.
  • Leave waterproofing spray to dry for some time.
  • Spray water on the tent with a hose to test if the leaks are sealed.

Step 7: Leave It To Dry

  • Leave the canvas tent to dry for some time to prevent it from shrinking.
  • Drtung it under direct sunlight is a good idea, but ensure you don’t leave it there too long.

How Do You Waterproof A Canvas Naturally?

If you want to seal your canvas tent naturally, wax, linseed oil, and beeswax can be helpful. Wax is a cheap waterproofing source for canvas tents. You can even use wax to seal coats, clothes, and other canvas materials. Follow these steps to waterproof your canvas tent with wax:

  • Take beeswax pellets or paraffin wax.
  • Melt wax inside double broiler without burning it.
  • You can also melt it inside a saucepan by adding one or two inches of water inside the pot and placing the wax pot on it.
  • The steam will melt the wax. Pour 4 ounces of beeswax pellet and 4 ounces of paraffin wax into the pot.
  • Stir it to make it a smooth consistency.
  • Take a sticky roller or lint roller to remove dirt from the tent. It is better to spot clean before applying wax.
  • Use a paintbrush to apply melted wax by covering small sections.
  • Blow air from the hairdryer to melt wax again to soak inside the fabric fully.
  • Leave it to cool down and repeat the process. It is better to let wax rest on the canvas for 24 hours before you test its strength.

Final Thoughts

Waterproofing for canvas tents is crucial to enjoying outdoor camping without worrying about the weather. However, after waterproofing, you must consider some safety tips, such as packing up the dried tent properly to avoid mold growth, cleaning all its dirty parts, and storing it in a safe and dry place.

It is highly recommended to season canvas tent once every year in summer to make it last longer. We hope the guidelines will help waterproof your canvas tent.

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