How to Waterproof a Tent and Basic Tent Care Tips

If you are a frequent camper, you might have experienced rainwater leaking in your tent. You also know how much of a damper such a situation can put on the trip. What is worst is that it can even cause the whole trip to be canceled.

So what do you do to ensure it doesn’t happen to you or doesn’t happen again? Buy an expensive tent or find ways on how to waterproof a tent? For us, waterproofing your tent would be great especially if you already have a tent or you don’t want to shell out too much cash.

Apart from waterproofing your tent, you must also learn to take care of your camping tent. Fortunately, those are the things that we will tackle in this article. So, read on!

How to Properly Care for a Tent?

You can prolong your tent’s lifespan by following some of the tips below:

  • Store Your Tent Away from Direct Sunlight

Although a few days or weeks under the sun shouldn’t affect your tent much, it’s still better to pick a shady spot when installing your tent. Also, you’ll definitely store the tent for a longer period than you use it, so make sure that when you do put it away, it is in a shady spot. This is important because UV rays can cause the fabric of your tent to degrade over time, and this can lead to rips and leaks.

  • Store the Tent Correctly

Make sure that before you put your tent away, it’s been cleaned first and is absolutely dry from top to bottom. Any dampness can lead to the formation of mold, and that will destroy the integrity of the tent’s fabric.

  • Wash Your Tent Properly

Cold water, soap, and a sponge should do when cleaning your tent. Never use a washing machine to wash any part of it. Bleach and other cleaning products with harsh chemicals can also corrupt any water-repellant coating your tent may have.

  • Use a Tarp under Your Camping Tent

It doesn’t matter how new your tent is but you need to lay a tarp underneath it whenever you set it up. A ground tarp will prevent rocks and other debris from damaging the floor of your tent.

  • Choose an Established Campsite

Pitch your tent in a level and smooth ground to make sure that nothing pokes a hole in your tent floor.

  • Fix Damages Right Away

If you see any rips or holes, have them fixed right away if you can. Prolonging it might cause the damage to get larger and may become more expensive to repair.

  • Proper Usage is Key

Buy a tent that is most suited to the environment or season you’ll most often use it. If it’s your first time to use a particular tent, try to practice setting it up first in your backyard to avoid trouble later on when you really need to pitch it. Make sure that you’ve read all the instructions carefully before setting up to ensure you don’t damage any part of the tent.

How to Waterproof a Tent?

If you’ve never done it before, you might have no idea how to waterproof a tent. It really is quite easy although somewhat time-consuming. Before you go on to working on waterproofing your tent, you need to determine first which areas need it.

This can be done by filling a tub full of water and then pushing your unmade tent under it. The area where you see little bubbles is the part with the leak. You can also do waterproofing as an extra precaution even if your tent does not have any leaks. Now you’re ready for the next steps.


  • Clean Your Tent

You can’t start waterproofing until your tent is completely clean. Otherwise, you’d be coating over debris and dirt, and a big gust of wind or the lightest rain can blow the coating off. Make sure that you also completely dry the tent before you start.

  • Seal All Seams

Many tents are not sealed, only factory-taped, which is especially true for the cheap ones. This usually means that the area where the floor and the wall of the tent connect is prone to leaking.

Check if there are any peeling tape and if there is, remove those sections. Apply a seam sealer thickly on all of the seams and let dry completely. (Seam sealers can be found in any hardware store or online).

  • Refresh Your Tent’s Urethane Coating

Since the floor is the most critical part of the tent when waterproofing, it is absolutely important that all cracks are completely sealed off. The seam sealer will take care of this while a tent sealant on top will further ensure the inside of the tent stays completely dry even during the fiercest storm.

Get a tent sealant that’s suited to the type of fabric your tent is made of. Silicone-treated fabrics need a different sealant from polyurethane-coated ones, although most tents use PU fabrics.

Using a sponge, scrub off carefully any flaking coats from your tent floor and rainfly. Apply the new coating thinly on the rainfly and floor tent. Wait for it to dry completely, which should take around 24 hours.

  • Refresh Your Tent’s DWR (durable water repellent) Coating

Spray your entire floor and rainfly with the coating and distribute the liquid using a cloth. Wait again for the coating to dry. Keep the tent flaps or door and windows open while you do this since the fumes from the spray can be very strong.

Repeat this same process on the outside part of the tent floor. You can also do this to the walls of your tent as an extra precaution, but this won’t need as much waterproofing product as the floor does.

Waterproofing Tips to Avoid

The Internet offers a wide range of advice regarding waterproofing a tent. Some of them are practical and good, a few are strange, while some are downright bad for your camping tent in the long run.

  • Duct Tape

For emergencies, this can be done but preparing your tent carefully before your camping trip and bringing tent mending supplies can help you avoid emergencies that would necessitate using this. Duct tape can also tear the wall’s fabric when you try to remove it.

  • Grease or Lard

Using lard on your tent will keep rainwater out, but it will also strip the original waterproof coating off your tent. Not to mention that using it is kinda unpleasant and will attract animals and bugs which you want to avoid.

Final Words

A tent is your best companion for your camping, hiking, and other outdoor trips. That is why it needs to be taken cared of so that you would be safe. This will also ensure that you won’t buy a new one each time. Although in general, tents are waterproof, you can still use the method we discussed to add more protection to your tent.

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