How To Waterproof A Tent Like A Pro?

For you to enjoy your stay outdoors, you need a reliable tent that should be able to protect you from the elements at all times. Camping is fun but things can go wrong if your shelter is not able to keep the elements at bay.

waterproof tent spray

Water leakage is one of the worst things that can happen when you are out there camping as you will get wet and your belongings will get soaked. Your tent’s interior will get messy and staying at risk.

When a shelter is new, its weather protection features function properly but with time the protection wears off. It is no longer able to protect you from the rain and it leaks every time the weather gets worse.

Buying a new one would be an obvious solution. However, if you don’t have the funds to do so, you can waterproof it. I will teach you how to waterproof a tent like a pro in the next paragraphs.

What can you use to waterproof it?

Waterproofing is not a complex activity and this article highlights the steps that you need to follow.

The original coating on your shelter should last long but with continued use, it will wear off and it could start to leak when it rains.

waterproofing a tent

When you notice that its’s coating is flaking off, it is a good time to reproof it. When the coating wears off, it will not be able to keep water away from the interior.

You can also perform a simple test to check if your unit is still protected. Get a water spray and spray the outside of the structure.

If the water beads on the surface, then it will protect you. If it soaks the water, then it is not waterproof and you will need to apply a fresh coating all over again.

How do I waterproof it?

The procedure is very straightforward and you will be able to accomplish the tasks in the following steps.

Ø  Clean the tent

Ø  Seal its seams

Ø  Apply a fresh coat of urethane coating

Ø  Reapply the DWR (durable water repellent) coating

Ø  Leave it to dry

Step 1: Clean the tent

Dirt on its surface unable coating to stick on the surface. That is why you need to make sure that it is clean before you apply any coating on it.

Remove all the solid waste of the tent and use clean water to remove mud and other dirt that is on the material.

Step 2: Seal the seams

The next thing that you need to do is to seal the seams. The seam is the part of the fabric that has been stitched together. The water could pass through the tiny holes if the seams have not been sealed properly.

The seams usually have a waterproof coating but this coating wears off with time. To re-seal the seams, you will have to;

  • Set the tent with the inner sections of the seam easily accessible. You will be sealing the seams on their inner side as well as the underside of the flysheet.
  • Clean the seams with a soft piece of cloth that has been dipped in alcohol so as to remove the bits that are falling off.
  • Apply the seam sealer on the seams and underside of the flysheet according to the instructions highlighted on the product.
  • Leave it to dry.

Step 3: Apply the urethane coating

spraying the tent

After sealing the seams, the next thing that you need to do is to apply the urethane coating.

The urethane coating on the tent would be falling out at this time and you will need a fresh coat to boost its weatherproof capacity. To apply the fresh coat, you will need to;

  • Lay the shelter on a flat and dry surface.
  • Remove the bits that are flaking off.
  • Apply a fresh coat of the sealant according to the product’s instructions. You should make sure that you get the right sealant for the best results.
  • Leave it to dry.

Step 4: Apply the DWR coating

Then you will need to apply the DWR coating to guarantee your tent’s waterproof ability. The DWR or durable water repellant is what causes water to bead up on the tent’s surface.

This prevents it from soaking into the fabric. To apply this coating, you will need to;

  • Make sure that the flysheet is clean for effective application. Use a water spray to clean the outside of the tent if that is not the case.
  • Spray the DWR on the material evenly.
  • Wipe any excess coating with a soft piece of cloth.
  • Leave it to dry.

If you still think you need a new waterproof camping tent then you should read my other article and see which ones are perfect in the rain.

Do tents need to be waterproofed?

Most of them are already coated with a protective coat, also the seams and zippers.

waterproof tents material

However, when the unit is getting older, the seams will wear off so you will need to waterproof it yourself to camp dry. You can protect it at home also to additionally secure it from the elements.

What is the best waterproof spray for tents?

There are many waterproof tent sprays on the market but I recommend using the next ones from the reputable brands.

  • Kiwi Camp Dry
  • Nikwax tent and gear solarproof
  • Fabric Guard
  • Atsko silicone water-guard
  • Gear Aid tent fabric sealant
  • Scotchguard water & sun shield

How to apply a tent seam sealer?

Most of the shelters have sealed seams because the manufacturer sealed them during the tent-making process. However, the sealant wears off after years of use so you will have to re-apply it to stay dry.

Get the right sealant

If you want to get the right sealant you must know from which material is your shelter made. Silicone-coated materials need a silicone-based sealant to work. A tent that is polyurethane coated needs a urethane-based sealant.

How to apply it?

Your unit should be clean and dry before applying the sealant. Choose a dry and sunny day to do it. What things will you need to do the job? Prepare a cloth, rubbing alcohol, a brush, and a seam sealer.

Prepare the tent

Erect it as you would for the camping and apply the alcohol to remove the old sealant that isn’t working anymore, and dirt and let it dry.


You will seal each seam from the inside and outside, starting with the inner seams. Grab a brush and dip it into the sealant mix and apply a thin coat on the inner seams.

I recommend that you apply a wider coat than the seam width. Wipe the excess sealant off. Repeat the whole procedure on the outside of the seams.

Let it to dry

When you finished, let the model dry for 24 hours. If the seams are still wet on the touch you can put talcom powder on.

Test it

Now it is time to test it out to see if you did your job properly. The easiest way to test its waterproofness is to use a hose and sprinkle it with water to see if there are parts where it leaks.

How can you protect the tent additionaly?

If you intend to camp in a rainy season you can take precautions and additionally protect the tent and surroundings from the rain. If you don’t want to be in a wet interior due to leakage you should consider the next tips and tricks to protect it.

Using a tarp

A tarp is wonderful to use above and below the tent to stay protected from the rainwater. If you put it above the shelter it will protect it and its surroundings as they will be drier than without it.

Putting a tarp below it will also provide additional water protection as the tent won’t be exposed to the soaked ground.

Follow my waterproofing method

The steps highlighted above will help you waterproof your tent and restore its ability to protect you and your belongings from the rain. It is cheaper than having to buy a new one all over again and it will increase its lifespan.

If you have been wondering how to waterproof a tent, then this article covers all that you need to know on this matter.

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