I learned a lesson the hard way when I didn’t waterproof my tent. That’s something I’ll never do again.

I was so excited to get my new canvas tent. But when I went outside and set it up, the rain came down hard in a sudden burst and instantly there were leaks everywhere. It turns out that even though this material is naturally waterproof you know what? That’s not always enough.

You need to seal up any tiny holes in the canvas of your tent with water based coupling agents like silicone or fluoropolymers before it rains. This will help prevent rainwater from leaking through and ruining all those expensive materials you’ve just spent time gathering.

Difference Between Waterproofing and Seasoning A Canvas Tent

Waterproofing a canvas tent is not as simple and straightforward a process as many people think. When you want to waterproof your tent, make sure that it has already been seasoned beforehand so the surface of your shelter will be able to bond properly with sealant when applied.

If you want your tent to be fully water resistant, then it’s important that both waterproofing and seasonings are applied.

Season A Canvas Tent

Canvas is a fabric that has the potential to let water in. However, if you get it wet enough, there will be swelling that stops any leaking through these tiny holes and forms a sealant around them, preventing further flooding of your tent.

I recommend buying a tent that is waterproof and will keep you dry even in heavy rain. After waiting for several storms, your canvas fabric Swelling up helps seal all of those pesky leaks so it can be used without worry outside.

When you are camping, it is important to take precautions for any potential leaks. One way of doing this is by drenching your tent before exposure and then wait an appropriate amount of time if there are still no signs after that it means the leaking has stopped.

Waterproof A Canvas Tent

So what does it mean when you say your tent is waterproof? Well, not exactly. canvas tents can thin out over time and some of those tiny holes open back up again because the material has already started to weaken from water exposure.

If you want to keep those pesky leaks at bay, then it’s time for water resistant treatment of your tent. You’ll be able protect all aspects inside from moisture with an effective sealant that will make sure no matter how much rain or snow hits them they stay closed tight.

Well, you don’t have to worry about waterproofing or seasoning your brand-new canvas tent. You can do both if desired but it’s not necessary at all. If the leaks come after seasoning then just go ahead and seal up those seams for good measure so they won’t ruin an otherwise perfect camping trip

One of the downsides to waterproofing your tent is that it can make breathing harder, so be ready for it after you waterproof it with a substance.

Steps To Do When Seasoning A Canvas Tent

Seasoning your tent is a must do before waterproofing it. Not only will season make sure that water doesn’t seep through to ruin the interior, but also do not forget about protecting against UV rays which can cause damage over time.

Not only is this step important for making sure your tent stays dry, but it will also save you time and money in the long run. For best results do this before taking on any new adventures. Do this during the summer, when temperatures are high.

Erect The Tent

To get the most out of your seasoning process, make sure you have plenty of space and aren’t opposed to getting wet. Keep all doors closed tight during this time.

Test the tent by getting it Wet

Now it’s time to get your tent completely wet. This can be done with any type of water source, but you’ll want something heavy so that the material doesn’t dry out too quickly. A hose is perfect for this since they’re usually durable enough and provide plenty of even flow throughout their length which helps keep things evenly moistened all over without leaving behind patches.

You should spray water on your tent, starting at the bottom right and working up. Make sure you pay attention when applying this water near seams or other areas where waterproofing may be lacking in order to avoid leaks that could lead to only slightly less than perfectly dry camping.

Once you’ve let the tent absorb moisture for about 5 minutes, go in and see if you can see any sun rays. If so, then keep spraying until there are no more rays coming in from outside.

Once you can’t see any more sunlight shining through the small holes from within, leave your wet tent to dry.

The tent should be left out in the sun for at least one day to allow it dry.

Wet It Again

After you’ve let the tent dry out, it is now time to soak once more

This time, wet your tent for 15 minutes. Use cold water and you need to be sure that there is absolutely no sunlight shining through any gaps in order for it not heat up. let them dry again in direct sunlight before pitching.

Check For Leaks

To make it rain, you can either spray your hose around or take down for a little while and put back up when the skies open up. Make sure that any tent is able to withstand heavy storms though because this will create most of its washing action in those moments.

If it rains on your tent, check to see if it leaks. If there are no leaks, you’re all set. You can use a waterproofing spray on any leaky areas.

Dry it Out

You should allow your tent to dry completely once you’ve completed testing it. All that’s left now is to pack up your tent and go on a real camping trip with it.

Re Season Your Tent

The life of your tent is dependent on how often you re-season it. If the process becomes too difficult, then some waterproofing spray should be used in order to keep it water free and protected against staining from dirt or other elements. Every 12 months will give optimal results but if this isn’t working anymore then what’s best to be done next? Use more sprays.

Steps To Do When Waterproofing Your Canvas Tent

To waterproof a tent, all you need is some time and products. Make sure that the right products for your needs are chosen so it can be applied correctly.

Choose your coat Product

Whether you go with a silicone or fluoropolymer coating, your product will be protected from water damage. However, I recommend using the latter as they have more weather resistance and oil resistance than others on their own.

The water shield from Scotchgard is a must have for those who own canvas tents. It has fluorochemical properties which makes it effective at repelling moisture and ensuring that you don’t have breathing difficulties inside your tent , while also providing protection against spills.

You’ll also need some seam sealant to protect the seams.

Set Up Your Tent On a Flat Surface

After that, set up your tent on a flat surface. You need enough area to freely walk around the cloth and cover the entire surface of it.

Clean Tent Tent

If you want to give your tent a fresh new look, then it’s time for some cleaning. Take care of any dirt on the surface before waterproofing and installing patches or seals so that everything will go smoothly. Use distilled white vinegar with soft bristles in order to remove all traces from inside including those pesky spots we can’t see unless there’s something sticking out.

Mix one cup of white vinegar with a gallon of water. If you want to make things easier on yourself, use salt and lemon juice instead. The solution will work well in removing mold from tents as well.

Another option is to use mild dish soap not containing bleach. Never use a product that contains any bleaching agents. The unfortunate side effect of this active ingredient is that it can damage or cause discoloration on your canvas.

It’s time for a tent cleaning. In order to keep your space smelling fresh, grab that brush and give all sides of the fabrics inwards and outside scrubbing with just enough vinegar so as not to leave any residue behind.

If your tent is really filthy and you want really good results, you may want to use a light spray setting to wet down the entire thing but be careful because too much can cause damage if done incorrectly.

Use Your Waterproofing Spray and Seam Seal

Don’t forget about the waterproofing spray and seam seal! Use it along all these seams where walls connect with each other, as well on any points that you see liquid or water coming out.

The waterproofing spray will keep your tent dry, no matter where you go. It can be used on areas that leak or to seal up all of those pesky leaks in between trips for maintenance.

Test it For Leaks

Once the waterproofing spray has dried, carefully pitch your tent and test it for leaks. If there are any signs of leakage then go back over these areas with another coat of spray on top before leaving.

Leave Your Tent To Dry

The best way to avoid shrinking is to leave your tent assembled. As soon as you’re sure that it has passed the test, take off any accessories like rain hoods or extra stakes and lay them flat on a dry surface where they won’t get moldy from excess moisture in their fabric; otherwise, the canvas can shrink when wet.

You can speed up the drying process by leaving your canvas in direct sunlight. Just be careful not to leave it out too long or else risk damaging its materials, as this may cause fades over time due to sun exposure.

Tips To Maintain Your Canvas Tent Maintenance

You don’t want your tent to get any damage like mold or rot, which can hinder its waterproof nature. So be sure you care for it by carefully following these tips.

Dry Your Tent Before Packing

Not only will your tent never dry out if you pack it wet, but the mold and mildew that grow in these conditions can be extremely harmful to both humans as well as animals. Mold survives in dark places with dampness don’t make this mistake.

Clean Your Tent Before Packing

Make sure to clean your tent before you pack it away, especially if there are heavy rains. Washing with soap and water or using a pressure washer will help get rid of any dirt that may have been accumulated during camping trips beforehand.

Store Your Tent

Store your tent in an area with good air circulation and make sure it is sealed up well. Molds can’t grow when the conditions are right, so you won’t have any issues there.

For added protection against bugs or mice trying to get into that bag of yours through tiny holes (or even bigger ones), keep them stored inside something like a cabinet where they’ll stay out from underfoot until needed again- then just grab them quick before these pests ruin all those expensive parts.

Thorough Wash Every Year

Cleaning your tent is an important part of using it. You should give the canvas surfaces a thorough wash every year, even if they don’t look dirty this will ensure that there aren’t any mold or dirt stains left behind for you to worry about later on.

Afterward make sure everything’s dry (and free from all moisture) before applying annual waterproofing solutions in high traffic areas where water may seep through easily such as near window sills and doorways where rain collects during storms.


Tents are often not water resistant and it’s important you care for your tent. Waterproofing with the right product can help you stay dry no matter what Mother Nature throws at us.

Tent seasonings have been shown time after again as being highly effective in preventing wetness inside of our tents they also make sure that any moisture on its outside doesn’t get past these protection measures either so we don’t need worry about mold or mildew forming anywhere near your tent even during heavy downpours.

To keep your tent in pristine condition, you should perform regular maintenance on it. I advise doing this during the summer months to avoid any issues with water infiltration or pesky bugs finding their way inside.

If you’ve got the procedure down, your tent should remain waterproof as long as you use it.

By Anthony Paton

Anthony Paton, the outdoorsman who loves to report all sorts of interesting stories about camping in Great Britain. He's based out London and doesn't get much time for himself these days because work commitments keep him away on occasion but does what he can with what little free time there is.