Do Canvas Tents Need Waterproofing?

Most people think that canvas is already waterproof since it is a very durable material. I found myself in a tent out in the open while raining, and I can confirm that the canvas is to some extent resistant to water penetration. But the canvas is certainly not completely waterproof! Therefore, if you wonder if canvas tents need additional protection against leaks, the answer is – Yes! In this article, we’ll talk about that and much more. So, let’s start!

Do Canvas Tents Need Waterproofing?

So Do Canvas Tents Need Waterproofing? Although Canvas as the material has natural waterproofing properties, it is not completely waterproof. To fully waterproof a canvas tent, you need to use a special waterproofing spray. The best types of sprays for this are silicone or fluoropolymer-based ones.

However, don’t think that it’s just a matter of getting your canvas tent wet. As the water gets into the fabric, some of it will be trapped, and it will start to attract mildew. You don’t want this to happen. In the next sections, we’ll talk more about that and how you can waterproof your canvas tent.

If you love camping, then we also recommend you to read this article, How to Purify River Water For Drinking.

The Waterproof Qualities of Cotton (Canvas)

Cotton Material Qualities

Most manufacturers are using cotton (that has natural waterproofing qualities) to waterproof their canvas material. Cotton absorbs the moisture with which it comes into contact and thus makes the material denser and less penetrable.

But the problem can arise if, after exposure to water, the fabric does not dry completely and water remains within the material’s structure, and it starts to attract mildew. The result is an unpleasant smell of moisture that takes over the entire tent.

Modern Material

Today, canvas in modern production processes is not made from just one type of material but from a combination that is coated with acrylic or vinyl-based material. This way of making canvas makes it far more water-resistant.

Best Way To Season Your Tent

Methods to season your tent

If you haven’t heard of the term ‘seasoning’, then we’ll explain it. It is a waterproofing process that is used to seal any pinholes in the fabric on the tent. In short, the tent’s fabric is immersed in liquid several times and dried.

This procedure allows the material to expand to the maximum and then shrink by closing even the smallest, microscopic holes. The holes remain open to absorb moisture, and mold forms if the seasoning is not done.

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The easiest way to do seasoning is to stretch out the tent and then spray it down with a garden hose or simply soak it in a tub full of water. In both cases, the cloth must then be well dried. It is not recommended to dry the dryers, but air dries only. Read the manufacturer’s instructions to see what is allowed.

If you do seasoning regularly and correctly, this process will be good enough to protect your tent against moisture. However, this process will not last forever. Small holes will appear on your canvas tent and you will notice little leaks. When that happens, it’s time to protect the canvas tent with a silicone-based coating.

How To Waterproof Your Canvas Tent?

Ways to Waterproof Your Canvas Tent

It is always a good option to waterproof your tent and protects it from water penetration and moisture, even when you have done seasoning. The tent will age, the material will start to expand, holes will appear, and canvas’s natural waterproof property will weaken. When this happens, you need to use a waterproofing product.

However, avoid using products that will permanently seal the fibers as much as you find the idea appealing. If you do this, your tent will lose its breathability, and condensation will be present whenever you enter the tent.

You need to protect the tent by using a sealant that ensures the water-resistance of the fabric but does not interfere with the natural breathability and airflow through the tent. There are several methods that are available to achieve such an effect, and the simplest way is to use a canvas preservative.

What Do You Use To Waterproof Canvas Tent?

Products to a waterproof canvas tent

The first thing you need to consider when buying a product to create a waterproof layer on your tent is its size. If you have a larger tent a good solution is to buy a concentrated product that can be rolled on or sprayed on. I have already used some of these products for this purpose. Here are my top 3 choices:

  1. Atsko Silicone Water-Guard
  2. Obenauf’s Odorless Waterproofing Spray
  3. Kiwi Camp Dry Heavy-Duty Water Repellent

If your tent is smaller, and designed for only one or two people, it is recommended to buy a smaller can spray in which there is a sufficient amount of coating for your needs.

Related Article: Should I Put a Tarp Down Under My Tent? Explained

How to Apply The Waterproofing Product On Your Tent

Apply The Waterproofing Product on Your Tent

It is recommended to apply the canvas waterproofing spray on your tent during a sunny and warm day without gusts of wind. Stronger winds can prevent the coating from being evenly distributed.

  1. If you can smell mildew or your tent seams weathered, take a bucket of water with soap and scrub it good with a firm brush. After your done, erect it somewhere in your yard.
  2. If it’s in good condition, simply assemble it straight up.
  3. Spray all tent sides as evenly as you can. Make sure you spray it everywhere, especially the seam lines and all the folds.
  4. Then take a small paintbrush and find any hard to reach areas that the spray possibly did not not coated well.
  5. Make sure the tent is dry before you use the second coat. Also, be sure to leave it to dry again. If you aren’t satisfied, you can do the third coat. Keep in mind that two coats should be just fine.

Once the coatings on the tent are well dried, be sure to spray it down with water. If you have done a good job you will notice the formation of small water balls on the surface. This is a sign that your tent is now waterproof and that water cannot harm it!

How Often Should You Season Your Canvas Tent?

Season Your Canvas Tent

Most people think that seasoning is enough to do only once and that the effect will last forever. Quite the opposite. Seasoning should be done immediately after purchasing the tent and then regularly at least every 12 months no matter how much you use your tent. Only with regular maintenance your tent will be waterproof.

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Remember that seasoning should be done, as mentioned earlier, once a year. But in some cases, this procedure needs to be repeated every few months.

However, it all depends on what conditions you are camping in. The need for seasoning is not the same if you are camping by the ocean or in the desert. The conclusion is that weather conditions affect the need for seasoning.

If you ignore the need for seasoning at least once every 12 months, you will notice that your tent is shrinking in the corners. To prevent such a situation, Trayon set up a weather skirt flip-down press studs around the camper perimeter.

They allow the canvas not to move from where it is attached. The situation is different with the Velcro version, which cannot always be placed in the same place, and with bungee straps that move easily.

Canvas Tent Maintenance Tips

Tent Maintenance Tips

While seasoning is a great way to protect your tent from moisture, it’s not enough to just stop there if you want your tent to last as long as possible. You must regularly maintain your tent to ensure the mold does not enter it.

1. Pack Your Tent Dry

Many tent owners think it is a good idea to pack your tent wet and leave it dry. However, you should never do that! These are ideal conditions for the development of mold that adores damp and dark places.

2. Ensure That Tent Is Clean Before Packing

Many people don’t know that dirt also holds moisture. Therefore, it is important to clean your tent before storage. We have already explained in the text above how to do that.

3. Store Your Tent Correctly

The best way to store your tent is to place it in a dry and cold place. In that conditions, mold and mildew can’t thrive. If it is possible a good option is to protect the tent from parasites that can drill holes in the canvas (such as mice and beetles). You can do this by storing it in a plastic container.

4. Clean The Tent Once Per Season

It is very important to clean your tent at least once a year, even if it does not look dirty at first glance. If the tent is located in an area with high traffic, it is good to water it with a combination of vinegar and water to help keep it comfortable and clean for a long time. 

Mold should definitely be removed regularly, in any case, always before the regular annual waterproofing and seasoning.

FAQ: People Also Ask

How often should you waterproof a canvas tent?

Seasoning should be done at the earliest opportunity immediately after purchasing the tent, and then regularly at least every 12 months no matter how many times you used the tent. Regular maintenance will protect your tent from water penetration in the long run.

How can I waterproof my canvas naturally?

If you want to protect the canvas from water with a natural remedy, you can do it by using a wax coating. For such a coating, you need wax in one piece. It can be fully organic or a combination of bees wax and paraffin.

Final Thoughts

We believe that the information from this article has helped you understand how much and why it is important to maintain and waterproof your tent.

But if you regularly take care of your tent, you will never have a problem with the appearance of mold, and you can expect the tent to serve you long and faithfully. If you have any additional questions about waterproofing your tent, feel free to leave the comment below.

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1 month ago

Thank you for your sharing. I am worried that I lack creative ideas. It is your article that makes me full of hope. Thank you. But, I have a question, can you help me?

To tài khon min phí
To tài khon min phí
14 hours ago

I don’t think the title of your article matches the content lol. Just kidding, mainly because I had some doubts after reading the article.