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How to Waterproof Cotton Canvas tents?

Jun 16, 2021
Camping is always fun as it is the most beautiful way to connect with Mother Nature. You spend the whole night under the stars inside a flimsy canvas and listen to the sound of nature while sitting next to the wood stove.

This is one side of the story. It becomes worse when heavy rain comes, and water tends to seep into your camp. Especially if you are camping in a chilly climate or wilderness.

Therefore, many people ask the questions like, ‘Do Canvas tents are waterproof?’ or sometimes they ask, ‘How to waterproof cotton canvas tent?’, or ‘What is the best way to waterproof cotton canvas tent?’


Keep reading the articles, and we will provide you the answers of all the above questions one by one. In the end, you’ll be able to find the best way to waterproof your Cotton Canvas tent.

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HEX series, YARN series, FORT series, HUSSAR series


Let’s go straight to your queries and their answers now!

Are Canvas Tents Waterproof?


Yes, cotton canvas offers resistance against water broadly. However, if there is heavy rain in your camping area, it will no longer withstand the rain, and water will try to seep into the tent.

The reason behind the water seeping is that cotton fibers swell when they get wet. The seals break when the tent stretches because of swelling. Hence, water comes inside the tent through the reaped seals.

Therefore, you should always waterproof cotton canvas tents one way or another. Otherwise, the continuous water seeping will cause mildew buildup as cotton is easy to become mildew naturally. This mold and mildew will not only disturb the tent fabric. Besides, it will also create a nasty smell, making your camping difficult.

How to Waterproof a Cotton Canvas Tent?


Now you are aware of the fact that your cotton canvas tent is not fully waterproof. Therefore, you have to find ways to make your tent waterproof. Doesn’t it? In this section, we will introduce three incredible ways to waterproof cotton canvas tents. 

Let us see the techniques to make your tent waterproof now!

Method 1: Use Waterproofing Spray


The first way to waterproof cotton canvas tents is to use silicone waterproof spray. It is the easiest and most effective technique to prevent water from coming inside the canvas. Furthermore, this method doesn’t disturb the natural breathability of cotton fabrics and maintains a healthy environment inside the tent. 

However, you should be careful in buying the spray as some cheap silicone sprays can seal the small holes in tents and cause breathing problems.

You know the best part about silicon sprays. They don’t produce any toxic effect on your health, unlike other chemicals. Therefore, you can easily use these sealants without any tension of allergy or disease.

We know that you must be curious about the right way to apply silicone spray to your cotton canvas tent. Don’t worry! We will tell you the perfect way in this section. You just need to follow the systematic guide below to waterproof your canvas tents now!

Step 1: Clean Your Canvas
Before applying the waterproofing spray, you should thoroughly clean your cotton canvas tent. You can remove the dust and dried mud from the tent by brushing it with a clean stiff brush. Furthermore, you have to clean the tent with water and detergents to remove hard stains and mildew. Keep in mind that you should use only specialized cleaning detergents for tents as other chemicals cause leakage in the tent.

Step 2: Spray Your Canvas
Once you have cleaned your tent, it is time to spray your canvas. You should spray the tent from almost 8 inches away. Make sure that spray is evenly distributed, and all parts of tents are covered. 

The silicone spray will take nearly 8-10 hours for the drying process. You shouldn’t fold the tent until the silicone is completely dry.


Furthermore, you should apply another layer of silicone spray on the tent a few days after the first coat of waterproofing spray.

Step 3: Note the Time
Cotton canvas tents are very durable. You can easily use them for camping for 20-25 years. However, the waterproof coating doesn’t last long. It has a maximum lifespan of 60-65 weeks. Therefore, if you use your cotton canvas tent after 60 weeks, it wouldn’t provide an efficient water blockage. Hence, you should respray your cotton canvas tent after this interval.

Method 2: Use Canvas Preservatives


Frequent use of canvas tents causes damage and allows water to come inside from the damaged area. Consequently, it influences the waterproofing ability of cotton canvas tents. Therefore, you should use preservatives to maintain the natural waterproofing ability of the tent.

Let us see how you can apply preservatives to your tent now!

Step 1: Apply Preservative Spray
Open your tent on the even ground and apply the preservative spray evenly on all parts of the tent. It would be best if you use a paintbrush to cover the whole area outside the tent.

Step 2: Let the Tent Dry
After applying the preservative, you should let the tent dry. For this purpose, you should spread the tent in the sunshine. Check your tent after regular intervals. If you feel that the tent is no longer sticky, it means that the preservative has dried.

Method 3: Use Water Repellent


Water repellents like oil, grease, Paraffin wax, etc., are very effective in making your tent waterproof. It is one of the oldest techniques and campers are using this for thousands of years to block water. The only drawback of this repellent is that it is not easier to apply.

To use water repellents, you should make a mixture of melted paraffin wax and oil. After that, you should apply the mixture to the cotton canvas tent just as you apply preservatives above.

The campers don’t indulge themselves in melting paraffin wax and prefer ready-made preservatives over this traditional method.

Bottom Line


Canvas tents are not waterproof entirely. Consequently, water can seep into the tent in thunderstorms or heavy rains. Therefore, you should find ways to waterproof cotton canvas tents to avoid such circumstances. You should go above and check the three incredible ways to make your tents waterproof now!



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