Weather can be unpredictable, and sometimes you will find yourself caught in a rainstorm when you’re out in the wilderness. This experience can be more painful if you have to deal with a leaky tent while waiting out the storm. If you’ve experienced a leaky tent while camping, it may be time to learn how to waterproof a tent.
Sealing the Seams
Most tents these days come with seams that are sealed. You may find that the sealant can wear out over time, allowing water to seep through. If you are camping and find a leaky seam, you can seal it when you get home with a few simple steps.
To start, you will need to set up your tent in a sunny area or brightly lit room. You will need as much light as possible to examine all the seams. Be sure to inspect the seams from the inside of your tent. Also, don’t forget to inspect the seams on the underside of your rain fly. You are looking for any visible wear or holes in the seams. Some tents not only have seam sealant, but also seam tape. If the seam tape appears to be peeling off, you can gently remove. Any seam tape that appears intact can remain in place.
Once all the seams have been inspected, you will need to prep the areas you plan on sealing. You can do this by cleaning them with your rag and rubbing alcohol. It is important to note that once one seam begins to fail, the rest are not far behind. It may be a good idea to apply sealant to all the seams while you’re at it.
At this point, you can start applying your sealant to the seams. You will want to apply an even coating to the seams from the inside of your tent. When working with your rain fly, you will want to apply an even coating to the underside. Be sure to get the right type of sealant for your tent. Silicone treated fabric takes a different sealant than polyurethane coated fabrics. Most tents use polyurethane coated fabrics, but if you are unsure what type of fabric your tent is made of you can check with the manufacture. Once sealant has been applied to all the seams, you will need to let it dry completely.
Refreshing the Urethane Coating
After some time you may notice stuff flaking off of the inside of your rain fly or on the floor of your tent. This means that it is time to apply a new urethane coating. The urethane coatings on the inside of your rainfly and the floor of your tent are the primary barriers against moisture.
To start, lay your rain fly and/or tent floor on a flat surface and gently scrub off the flaking coating with rubbing alcohol and the abrasive side of your sponge. Then, you can apply a thin coating of tent sealant to the rain fly and/or tent floor using the non-abrasive side of your sponge. Once applied, you will need to let the new coating dry for at least 24 hours before packing your tent away. Check out this post for more information on how to store your tent.
Be sure to follow the directions on the bottle. It is important to get the right type of sealant for your tent as stated above. If you are unsure what type of fabric your tent is made of you can check with the manufacture. Also, do not apply the tent sealant to the walls of your tent. The section below will explain what you need to do instead.
Refreshing the Exterior Coating
If rain isn’t beading up on your rain fly anymore, it may be time to refresh the exterior coating. The durable water repellant (DWR) coating helps your rain fly and other parts of your tent shed water when necessary. This is a crucial part when learning how to waterproof your tent and should not be overlooked.
- A Damp Rag
- Nikwax Waterproof Spray
To start, you will need to set up your tent and spray the rain fly with clean water. If you just washed your tent, you don’t have to wait for it to dry before applying the waterproof coating. Check out this post to learn how to clean your tent.
Then, you will need to spray the waterproof coating evenly over the exterior of the rain fly. Be sure to spray the exterior parts of the tent that are not covered by the rain fly as well. After a couple minutes, take your damp rag and wipe off any excess coating. Let the tent dry completely before packing it away.