How to Waterproof a Canvas Tent

Knowing how to waterproof a canvas tent can save you some money. And it isn’t that hard.

In camping, the fundamental necessary element is a canvas tent. In case it rains heavily, you can easily be drowned, so what you can do to save yourself is learn how to waterproof your canvas tent.

Waterproofing can greatly help you enjoy your adventure without being drenched in the rain.

Understanding Canvas Tents

As we know, a canvas tent is a basic need for a camper. And with this, you can become a part of nature with comfort at your hand. But as a beginner, various canvas tent options are available, so it’s natural that you get overwhelmed easily.

We have cabin, dome, and wall tents in the standard canvas tents. Every one of these can be used, but they are specifically made for different purposes.

If you want to camp with a family, a cabin canvas tent is a good option as it offers more space, so you can easily adjust. Dome tents are the ideal choice for backpackers or hikers who want a canvas tent that is lighter in weight and with which they can easily travel (especially if not taking a car on their camping trip).

Finally, if you are a hunter or an outdoor enthusiast, wall tents are a perfect fit as they are spacious and durable shelters for extended camping periods.

The Importance of Waterproofing Your Canvas Tent

If you are camping where it rains often or the weather forecast indicates a high probability of rain, you badly need a waterproof canvas tent as you can get caught in the heavy rainfall.

Waterproofing your canvas tent keeps you and your essentials dry during unexpected rainstorms and protects against mold growth or mildew buildup because of the moisture trapped in the canvas tent. In case you want to know about the benefits of waterproofing, we have compiled a list for you. 

Improved Durability

As you waterproof your canvas tent apart from giving shelter from rain, it can also improve the durability of the canvas tent. With moisture, the tent’s fabric might get damaged over time, and when trapped in the tent, it gives an ideal environment for the molds to grow, causing the short living of the tent.

In waterproofing, a special layer is applied or coated on the tent’s surface, due to which it repeals water. Due to this repulsion, the tent can last longer, increasing its durability.

Increased Comfort

Waterproof canvas tents can also increase your comfort level while camping. Waterproofing provides a warm and dry environment even when the outside climate is harsh.

The canvas material is waterproof, so it will likely get wet, making the interior less damp when exposed to rain and snow. This makes the internal environment warm and dry, increasing overall comfort.

Easier Cleanup

With waterproofing, another perk is that the cleanup process gets easier. With waterproof canvas tents, the dirt and the other materials don’t get inside the fabric or the tent material and are instead on the surface.

And when the dirt is only at the surface, you don’t have to scrub it to remove the dirt. The whole cleaning process is so much easier.

Waterproofing Methods

Don’t ruin your camping trip because of rain.

When it comes to waterproofing, you can use many different methods available:

Silicone Waterproofing

Silicone waterproofing is one of the most popular types of waterproofing. It can be done on canvas tents and other fabrics. Silicone itself is water-repellent and can provide long-lasting protection for water penetration.

This can be used in the form of silicone sprays or solutions that are made for canvas tents in particular.

Beeswax and Linseed Oil Treatment

Another commonly used waterproofing method that is natural is beeswax and linseed oil.

Using beeswax and linseed oil treatment, you can maintain the fabric’s breathability while acquiring the waterproof ability.

Spray-on Waterproofing Treatment

This treatment method can be applied directly to the canvas.

In these treatments, you have a mixture of various materials that bond with the fabric fibers, making your tent waterproof.

Waterproofing Compound

In these compounds, there is a blend of chemical components, and they penetrate the fabric. As they do this, it creates a waterproof seal, turning the canvas material waterproof.

How to Waterproof a Canvas Tent

If you are looking for a full-fledged guide on waterproofing your canvas tent, we have made it easier through this step-by-step guide.

Before heading up for the waterproofing process, you must spare some time for the preparation. In preparation, there are some basic steps you need to take. These steps include thoroughly cleaning and drying the tent and ensuring it is cleaned so the waterproofing layer can easily stick to it with no debris beneath the fabric.

Another step is checking for damage, leaks, or tiny holes. It is crucial because you might have to repeat the process if you don’t check this.

Choose a Waterproofing Product: The first step in waterproofing a canvas tent is selecting a suitable product for canvas tents. It could be any waterproofing treatment like spray, solution, etc. You must also read all the instructions related to the material’s suitability for the canvas tent.

Test in a Small Area: Before applying the material to the overall canvas tent, it is wise to try out a small area as a test first. This testing helps you ensure it is not causing discoloration or any other damage to the fabric.  

Apply the Waterproofing Product: After testing the product on the area, you must apply it on the entire tent surface. You must use a soft-bristled brush, sponge, or spray bottle as instructed.

Moreover, you must pay more attention to the seams, corners, and high-stress areas as they are the surfaces that need the most waterproofing.

Allow Drying Time: After waterproofing, let the tent completely dry. Giving this drying time is necessary for the proper waterproofing of the tent. Don’t forget to allow the exact time mentioned in the product’s instructions.

Repeat if Necessary: After letting the tent dry, you can inspect whether the desired waterproofing level is attained. If not, repeat the process until you get what you need. Never leave the job unfinished.

Seasoning vs. Waterproofing

The seasoning process is often confused with the waterproofing process. But actually, they are two entirely different processes:

Seasoning a Canvas Tent

Purpose: The seasoning of the canvas is done for the new canvas tent to increase its water-repellency and overall durability.

Process: In the seasoning process, you first make the fabric properly wet, and once wet, you allow it to dry naturally.

With this wetting and drying process, the tent material and its fibers swell and close gaps, resulting in a tighter weave that minimizes water penetration.

Benefits: It makes the canvas fibers shrink, making them more water-resistant. Moreover, a better seal against moisture is created, which also helps prevent mold growth. Lastly, the lifespan of the canvas tent is also increased.

Frequency: Seasoning is not a process that is repeated often. It is usually done to a new tent as described above, or to a tent that is stored for a long period and not used.

Waterproofing a Canvas Tent

Purpose: In waterproofing, the purpose is solely to make the canvas tent resistant to water penetration, protecting it from rain, dew, or other sources of moisture.

Process: In waterproofing, the first step is to apply a waterproofing solution to the canvas fabric. This can be done using a waterproofing spray or other solutions and compounds that create a protective layer on the fabric’s surface, preventing water from seeping into the tent.

Benefits: Mainly increases the water repellency of the canvas tent, which ensures that it stays dry during wet conditions.

With waterproofing, there is less risk of leakage and increased interior protection from moisture damage.

Frequency: Waterproofing may need to be reapplied periodically, as the effectiveness of the treatment can diminish over time. The frequency can vary, and it depends on various external factors.

Seasoning is a one-time process, and by doing it, you can improve the overall water resistance and durability of the canvas tent. Whereas in the case of waterproofing, it is a repeated process that focuses explicitly on making the tent resistant to water penetration.

Both processes are important to ensure the longevity and performance of a canvas tent in various weather conditions.

Maintaining a Waterproofed Canvas Tent

Keep it Clean

Keeping your tent clean means removing dirt or other contaminants that may have accumulated outside the tent. 

Store Properly

Another tip is to store your canvas tents properly. This means ensuring the tent is properly dried before folding it and storing it in a cool, dry place.

Additionally, while storing, it is advisable not to store them in a place where they have direct sunlight exposure for prolonged periods, as it can fade the fabric.

Re-Waterproof Regularly

Re-waterproofing must be regularly done. It is crucial as it maintains the water-repellent properties of the canvas tent. As described above, you can use a waterproofing spray or sealant designed specifically for canvas tents on all tent surfaces.

You should re-waterproof your tent once every six months.

Repair Damage Immediately

Whenever you see any of the parts of the tent being damaged, you should immediately repair them. You can do repairs yourself, like tiny holes, but if you need a significant repair of the canvas tent, you can opt for a professional service to do it for you.

You can buy a repair kit if you are more comfortable doing it yourself. Either way, repairing any damage quickly will help ensure your shelter remains safe and dry during inclement weather conditions.