With the summer months on their way, you could be planning your first outdoors trip for a while – and so you’ll want to make sure there are no nasty surprises lying in wait when you pitch up at your campsite.
The good news is that most tents are either covered in a waterproof membrane or treated with some kind of waterproofing agent in order to stop moisture soaking through the fabric.
However, after a while, this coating will wear away and it will need replacing with tent waterproofing spray – if you don’t then you and your things could wake up a bit soggy after a downpour!
Read on discover everything about waterproofing your tent, and be ready for anything nature can throw at you, in spring, summer or winter…
Here’s a quick guide to the best way to waterproof a tent:
- Pick a warm, dry day if possible
- Carefully clean all parts of the tent
- Seal the seams
- Refresh the urethane coating
- Refresh the DWR (durable water repellent) coating
- Leave all parts to dry
But of course, you want something a bit more detailed than that, so here’s our in-depth guide with a few handy hints and tips thrown in.
The waterproof coatings on your tent should last a while, so if you’ve only just bought it, then you shouldn’t need to apply any further coating.
It may become visibly noticeable that the coating on your tent is flaking off, at which point it will definitely need reapplying.
The best way to check is to simply test it yourself using a water spray. If the water doesn’t bead on the outside or you notice it soaking through at some places then it could do with reproofing.
How to re-seal the seams
Where the different parts of fabric have been stitched together is a prime spot for water to leak in, so it’s important you ensure the seams are well sealed. Like the rest of the tent, seams should have a waterproof coating, but this will wear away in time. Some seams may also have flaps covering them to protect them further.
- Choose a dry day outdoors or somewhere indoors, such as a garage, where you can apply the proofing materials and leave them to dry.
- Set up your tent – you will seal the seams on the inner side of the tent and underside of the fly sheet, so it’s easier if you turn the fly sheet inside out to make it easier to access.
- Carefully clean the seams using rubbing alcohol and a soft cloth or sponge, removing any bits that are peeling off.
- Apply seam sealer as per the instructions on the product. Make sure you get the right type of seam sealer – polyurethane-coated materials need different seam sealer to silicone-treated one.
- Leave to dry.
Tip: Even if only a small part of the seam is letting in water or appears worn, it’s advisable to reproof as many of the seams as possible to be safe. If the seams are damaged or coming apart, then you’ll need to get them repaired.
How to re-apply the urethane coating
The urethane coating can flake off over time, so if you’ve noticed any flakes anywhere under the rainfly or on the floor of the tent, then you’ll need to apply a new coating.
- Layout the material on a dry, flat surface.
- Carefully scrub off the bits that are flaking.
- Apply a thin coating of tent sealant as per the product’s instructions. Again, make sure you get the right type of sealant for your tent.
- Leave to dry for at least 24 hours.
How to re-apply the DWR coating
The DWR (durable water repellent) is what makes water bead up on the outside of your flysheet and prevents it from soaking through.
- Make sure the outside of your tent’s flysheet is clean, spraying it down with water if necessary – you don’t need to wait for it to dry.
- Apply tent waterproofing spray evenly over the fly.
- Wipe off any excess coating with a soft damp cloth.
- Leave to dry.
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