How to Waterproof a Tent in 3 Steps

waterproof tent to extend its lifespan

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Campers usually face different elements as they carry out various activities. There are periods of extreme sunshine and periods of heavy rainfall. There are also times when the winds blow heavily. It’s important to prepare and protect yourself from these elements. That’s why you should learn how to waterproof a tent as soon as possible.  

Usually, camping tents are manufactured with waterproof implementations. Make sure you purchase a camping tent made with water-resistant material.

You may be expecting some rainfall at camp, but the rain could get heavier than you expected; you should also ensure that you make inquiries about the weather forecast of the campground you’re going to. Preparation is paramount to success.

Regardless of tents being made with waterproof or water-resistant material, this feature may wear off after some time. Instead of disposing of the tent and buying a new one, you can just waterproof it yourself.

How to Do Tent Waterproofing

There are a couple of steps you can follow on how to waterproof a tent. You should know that waterproofing isn’t a brain-tasking process. Just follow the right process and use quality materials.

1. Seal the Seams

When should you waterproof your tent? Waterproofing is needed once the original protective coating starts to wear off significantly. The defects are usually more pronounced around the seams of your tent. Take a look at the seams around your tent for anyone that has come undone. 

After noticing the defective seam tapes, gradually pull them away from the tent’s frame – don’t bother with other seams that aren’t defective.

At this point, make sure you have a seam sealer and rubbing alcohol with you; both are needed in the preparation of a new seam. Clean the exposed surface with rubbing alcohol and neatly spread seam sealer over the surface.  

After spreading the seam sealer over the exposed surface, wait for it to dry. You should also confirm that you’re using a seam sealer that matches the fabric correctly. The seam sealer should also be spread over the connecting areas between the tent floor and tent walls.

2. Repair the Urethane Coating

Part of waterproofing a tent includes fixing wall leaks with sealant. Leaks in your tent wall allow drops of water to get in and mess up your tent’s interior. Look around your tent wall for any leaking areas – there’s usually a flaky development around leaking areas of the walls.

Get your rubbing alcohol to clean the leaking regions of the wall. The rubbing alcohol should be applied gently to prevent further damage to the wall.

Once the alcohol has done its job, spread some sealant equally over the leaking parts. Leave the sealant to dry.

3. Refresh the Durable Water Repellency

In addition to fixing leaks sealing loose seams, you may also have to refresh your tent’s DWR. DWR stands for Durable Water Repellency.

After using your tent for a while, the DWR’s effectiveness reduces. It’s at this stage that your knowledge of tent waterproofing comes in.

Before you begin, make sure that the tent is installed. After that, grab your DWR coating spray and apply it across the tent walls. Leave the evenly sprayed coating to dry off. 

Why You Should Waterproof Your Tent

If you’re wondering why you should do it, there are good reasons to answer that.

Even if you get high-quality waterproof tents, the waterproof and water-resistant coating would get less effective over time. This means that you either toss the entire tent or fix it yourself.   

There are also low-quality tents that never had reliable waterproofing from the start. If you end up with one of those, you’ll have to handle the waterproofing by yourself.

Here are some good reasons to waterproof your tent:

Protects from UV

Tents are usually pitched when you arrive at camp and they remain set up till you’re ready to leave.

During the few days or weeks that the tent remains setup, lots of sunlight shines on it. This sunlight can cause damage to the tent’s materials.

Once the tent’s walls, seams, and rainfly begin to lose their effectiveness, water will find its way into your tent space.

This simply tells you that the tent will need to be waterproofed periodically. The seams should be sealed, leaks should be fixed, and water repellent coatings sprayed on.

Extends Lifespan

The way you use your tent also affects its lifespan. Tents that are exposed to heavy-duty use will certainly suffer a faster reduction in protective properties.

As heavy rainfall impacts the tent walls and rainfly, and hot sun rays fall upon the tent, DWR quality reduces – so does the seam’s quality and fabric strength.

If you don’t want rainwater trickling into your tent and splashing on your face while you sleep, grab your sealants and fix those damages. Frequent repairs done on the tent will ensure that you don’t get disturbed by any of the elements while camping.  

Improves the Strength of Seams

Lastly, new tent seams are strong and effective. They fend off rainwater and withstand strong winds. Over time the seams would get weaker and start coming loose.

Loose seams mean more leaks and more leaks cause discomfort and frustration. With the proper matching seam sealant, you can remedy that problem in a short time.

Final Thoughts

If you don’t want to spend extra cash on getting a new tent, you should learn how to waterproof a tent. With the proper sealant and some rubbing alcohol, you can fix loose seams and cover leaking walls. Your tent’s DWR coating can also be fortified by spraying new DWR coating over the walls and rainfly.  

In the end, no knowledge is wasted. Your tent’s original waterproofing won’t last forever. Exposure to the elements and time will eventually weaken the fabric’s properties.


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