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How to Waterproof a Tent?

ways to waterproof a tent

Last Updated on February 7, 2021 by Tent Reviewer

The weather today is very unpredictable. One minute it is shining brightly and the next minute a very heavy downpour. The worst thing that can happen to you when camping is being woken up by a water droplet on your face. Or worse still waking up in a pool of water. It is disheartening, right?

For this reason, you have to waterproof your tent. This article will help you know how to waterproof a tent.

Read on to find out:

  • Why you need to waterproof your tent?
  • How to waterproof your tent?
  • Tips for waterproofing and many more

ways to waterproof a tent

Why Do You Need to Waterproof a Tent?

Tents are made with waterproof material but still, you need to waterproof them. All tents are made using a waterproof material, but not all tents are waterproof.

Even though the manufacturers used a waterproof fabric to construct the tent, the seams are not waterproof. This is a good entry point for water and snow. Water droplets will eventually find their way to your beautiful sleeping bag. This is the end of your sleep.

You might still wonder. Your seams are sealed with a waterproof coating, but water finds its way inside your tent. What might the problem be? If the tent material is indeed waterproof and seams are well coated, then the problem is the DWR coat used on the tent.

The coating wears gradually out after some time of usage. This is natural with everything. There is no need to raise an alarm. If you have only used the tent for a short period and this happens, then chances are you are not taking good care of your tent.

For you to enjoy your camp, you need to waterproof your tent. Do not just rely on the manufacturer’s assurances. It is better to be safe than sorry. Besides, here is a guide for choosing your best waterproof tent.

 

Identify Problems before Waterproofing a Tent

methods to identify the tent's waterproof problem

It is in your best interest to check whether the tent is well protected against water before you leave for your camping. How do you conclude that your tent needs to be waterproofed?

The way to identify whether there are problems is to test it yourself by using a water spray. If no water sips through the tent, then you have nothing to worry about.

If you find out the coat is peeling off, then you should consider reproofing the tent.

However, if you notice water droplets settling on the roof of the tent, then this is simply condensation. It is an indication that the pores or vents used to release vapor into the atmosphere have clogged.

If you do not have a water spray, you can use the garden hose. You will need a second person inside the tent to point out where the leaks are coming from.

 

How to Waterproof a Tent?

A tent is likely to leak in four major areas: seams, fly, the floor, and finally the fabric. Before deciding on which medium to use to waterproof first identify where the leak is coming from. If you’re searching for a 2 person waterproof tent, the Coleman dome tent can meet your need.

Additionally, before you start spraying, it is important to wash the tent first. Use clean water and a sponge. Cleaning removes dust and dirt that would otherwise cause early flaking of the coat.

methods to seal your tent

To waterproof the tent you have three preferences:

  • To seal the seams

A seam sealer will prevent moisture from seeping through the tent.

  • To refresh the DWR

Applying a durable water repellent coat will help the rain fly shed water.

  • To refresh the urethane coating

This coating on the underneath of the rain fly and the floor is responsible for the insulation against moisture.

1. Seams

A seam is the first place where water enters your tent. It is the place where two pieces of material join. Seams are mostly located at the door, window, and zippers. If you seal these areas well, then you will have no problems with water oozing your tent.

Before you decide on the seam material, confirm with your tent manufacturer to identify what products to use. Always stick to the instructional manual.

There are many seam sealant brands in the market. The most commonly recommended by experts are two: SeamGrip and SilNet.

SeamGrip is used on nylon and other synthetic materials, leather, vinyl, waterproof laminates, and other natural materials. SilNet, on the other hand, is used on silicone-coated materials such as Silnylon.

seal the seam to waterproof your tent

After deciding on the sealant to use you will also need:

  • A pair of gloves
  • A small painting brush (most sealants come with a brush)
  • Moist cloth
  • Alcohol

This process is short, simple, and straight-forward. You will need to do this outside but make sure you do it on a clean surface. You can also decide to do it indoors as long as the room is well ventilated. Additionally, it should be done on a hot sunny day.

Steps to seal your tent seam

1. Remove any peels gently from the seams.

2. Clean the seams using a damp cloth and alcohol.

3. Let the tent air dry.

4. Use your paintbrush to apply the sealant along the seams.

5. If your tent has a rain fly turn it upside down to expose the inner seams and seal those too.

6. Let the tent dry for between up to 12 hours.

To be sure of your work you can spray water after it has completely dried (practically the next day). Check for any leaks inside the tent.

2. Fly

seal the rain fly to make your tent waterproof

The rain fly is a very important part of the tent. It is in direct contact with environmental conditions be it the hot scorching sun or the heavy rain. It is key to ensure that no rainwater will touch your tent. Thus, it should be well cared for.

Waterproofing the rain fly insulates the tent against any water droplets thus reducing seeping.

There are different sealants designed for the rain fly. You need to be sure the one you choose will help protect your rain fly both from harsh sun rays and prevent water from seeping in simultaneously.

Apart from the sealant, you will also need:

  • A mask
  • A pair of gloves
  • A wet cloth

Steps to waterproof rainfly

1. Turn the fly inside out.

2. Wash the rain fly with water and detergent.

3. Let it dry completely.

4. Use your garden hose to wet the rain fly.

5. Proceed to spray the sealant on the rain fly. Do not leave any part unsprayed.

6. Wipe out the excess sealant using a wet cloth.

7. Leave the rain fly out to dry for a few hours.

3. Tent floor/base

steps to seal the tent floor

The floor of the tent is also another important place that needs your attention. The seams will prevent water from dripping through, the rain fly will protect water from touching your tent. The floor on the other side offers you protection against groundwater. So, it is equally important.

The floor not only protects the seam but also every other thing you put on the ground like the sleeping bag will be protected too.

Materials required include:

  • Sealant
  • A mask
  • A pair of gloves
  • A paintbrush

Steps to seal your tent floor

First, check out for any peelings from the previous sealant. Clean the floor using water and detergent then let it dry. Use a damp cloth and alcohol to clean the floor.

When you are done cleaning:

1. Put the sealant into a small bowl.

2. Using your paintbrush apply the sealant to the seams of the floor.

3. After doing all the seams, apply the remaining portion on the floor. Here you will need to apply two coats. Immediately you have finished applying the first coat, you can start applying the second one. The drying process will not be affected.

4. Finally, let the sealant dry completely.

4. Tent fabric

seal the fabric to make a tent waterproof

This process should be easy and take you roughly 30 minutes to complete. Furthermore, the work should be done on a sunny day for it to dry well.

Besides a sealant that is specifically designed for that particular fabric you will also need:

  • A pair of gloves
  • A protective mask
  • A damp cloth

Steps to waterproof the fabric

1. First, you have to clean your tent using water and detergent.

2. Leave it to dry.

3. If your tent was clean then no worries. Wet it using a moist cloth.

4. Apply a thin layer of the sealant evenly on the tent. Do not rub the sealant on the mesh part.

5. Use a sponge to remove excess sealant.

6. Let it dry for 12 hours.

To ensure you have correctly done your work, you can erect your tent then using a garden horse pour water on it. Check for any leaks on all the parts.

 

Tips for Waterproofing Tents

These tips might come in handy to make your tent waterproof.

Be prepared throughout

If you have a tent, you should take good care of it. Whenever you are going camping, waterproof the tent before you leave. The weather keeps on changing. Even if it is a sunny day, the weather might change while you are camping. You do not want to be caught unaware. It is better to be safe than sorry.

Be keen on your tent’s waterproof rating

When buying a tent, do check on the waterproof rating. This generally refers to the amount of rainwater the tent can endure before it starts to trickle through. This rating is usually indicated in the hydrostatic head (HH). The tent with the higher HH is the one you should consider.

Consider purchasing a tarp

Some tents come with inbuilt tarps. A tarp acts as an insulation against the ground. It prevents moisture from finding its way to the floor of the tent. To be safe, your tarp should be half the size of the floor. If you have a larger tarp, fold it to half the size of the floor. This prevents it from directing groundwater towards the tent’s floor.

use a tarp to waterproof a tent

The following are considered illegal when you want to waterproof your tent:

  • Never use a candle near the tent to examine tears as the tent may catch fire in the process.
  • Never use grease to waterproof the tent (rain fly). Though it is a good waterproof, it may end up removing the coating.
  • Do not use a duct take as it may rip delicate parts of the tent.

 

FAQs

Do All the Tents Need to Be Waterproofed?

All tents need waterproofing. Even the high-end tech, expensive tents need waterproofing time and again. It is not much of a burden to waterproof a tent before you use it. This is simply being extra careful since everything is possible nowadays. Errors do happen at times. It is better to be on the safer side.

Does Waterproof Spray Work on Tents?

No one wants to get wet when on a camping trip. To prevent this you can use a waterproof spray. A waterproof spray works just fine on tents. In addition to protecting your gear, it also helps restore old waterproof coating that had just started to fade.

But before you decide on which one to use, you should consult the manufacturer.

Is 5000 mm Waterproof Good for a Tent?

The waterproof rating is measured in millimeters with the lowest one being 100omm. The higher rating is 10000mm. Practically 5000mm is in the midpoint meaning you are on a safer side. The higher the rating the more waterproof it is.

When to Re-Waterproof a Tent?

When you waterproof a tent, it should serve you for a long time. However, this will also be determined by how you take care of it (storage and cleanliness).

Additionally, how long the coat stays intact will depend on how often you go camping. During testing when you see leaks, it is an indication the tent needs reproofing.

 

Conclusion

All tents need to be waterproof even if the manufacturer gives his assurance it is waterproof. There is no harm in redoing it yourself. Are you ready to waterproof your tent?