Do Canvas Tents Need Waterproofing and What to Use?

It can sometimes be difficult to keep your canvas tent waterproof even though the durable material has some natural water-resistant tendencies. If you get caught in a heavy storm, you are guaranteed to get wet as water seeps through the fabric. Are you wondering what you can do to make your canvas tent waterproof? Keep reading and find out how!

How can you waterproof a canvas tent? There are solutions that you can use that you put on the tent to fill the pores of the fabric to create a waterproof shield. You can find products in the store to use, or you can make your own.


Different Types of Canvas

Canvas isn’t all made from the same material. In some cases, canvas material will consist of cotton. When cotton gets wet, the fibers collect the water and seal the weave of the fabric. The downside to cotton is they are prone to collecting mildew.

Waterproofing canvas tents

In other cases, canvas tents have a vinyl and polyester coating. These types of fabric have tighter weaves that are water resistant, but not waterproof. These types of materials typically need more ventilation inside the tent because there is not much room for adequate air flow.

Are Canvas Wall Tents Waterproof?

Most canvas tents do not come waterproof. When you open a new tent, you will need to get it wet a few times to seal any micro-holes in the tent. You can do this pretty quickly by laying your tent out, spraying it with a hose, then letting it dry.

Repeat this process a few times and the micro-holes will be just about closed up. You will then need to treat your tent with a waterproof solution. You can buy one at the store or you can make your own, but we will discuss that a little later.

How Often Should You Waterproof a Canvas Tent?

After the first time you use a waterproof solution on your tent, you should continue doing so once every year no matter how much you’ve used your tent during that time. However, if you use your tent and realize that it is starting to let water leak through, you can waterproof again before your next scheduled date.

See also  How To Stay Warm When Camping in Your Car?

What Can I Use to Waterproof Canvas?

When it comes to what you can use to waterproof your canvas tent, there are plenty of options. You can buy a premade solution at the store, or you can try making your own solution. It is more common to buy a premade solution than to make your own, but both ways will work.

Premade solutions are ready to use and can usually be bought at any home improvement store. Making your own waterproof solution can most likely be done with ingredients you already have around your house. Let’s talk about what a premade solution is made out of, what you can make a homemade solution from, and how to use each type.

Premade Solutions

Premade solution is typically made with a silicone or fluoride compound. This is meant to increase the amount of water that gets repelled from the fabric. This type of solution works by putting in a layer of solution consisting of a moisture-repelling compound and prevents any moisture from gripping the cloth.

To apply a premade solution, you need to start by laying your tent on a flat surface that is getting plenty of sunlight. Make sure your canvas tent is clean by using soap, water, and a sponge or soft-bristle brush. After the tent is clean, you can apply the solution.

Do canvas tents need waterproofing

Some solutions come in a spray bottle while others you just pour onto the tent. In both cases, you will want to use a brush – like a paint brush or toothbrush – to make sure you get the solution down into the seams and any tiny holes in the fabric.

When the tent is completely saturated, allow it to sit and dry in the sun. You can repeat this process as many times as necessary until you feel your tent is completely waterproof. You can test this by spraying the tent with a hose to see if the water droplets bead up on the tent’s surface.

See also  Do Tents Leak When It Rains and What to Do to Prevent This

Two of the most popular premade solutions are Star Brite and 303. Star Brite is a waterproof solution that also protects from stains and UV rays that lead to discoloration. 303 also protects against stains and keeps the fabric dry in all occasions.

STAR BRITE Waterproofing Spray, Waterproofer + Stain Repellent + UV Protection - 1 GAL (081900N)
Check price on Amazon

Homemade Solutions

There are so many different formulas that you can use to create your own waterproofing solution. One homemade solution involves dissolving one pound of dry laundry soap into two gallons of water. You would then soak the tent until it is fully saturated. Squeeze out some of the extra water and hang the tent up to dry or set it out in the sun.

When completely dry, you will need to complete the process again. This time, you will only need to dissolve a half pound of alum in two gallons of water. It is best to leave the tent in this solution for a couple hours. When the time is up, squeeze out the extra water and set it out to dry again.

When you are finished, test the tent to see if it is waterproof. Spray it with a hose to see if the water beads up on the surface.


If you have a canvas tent, you are probably wondering what you can do to waterproof the fabric. It is probably way easier than you expected and shouldn’t take you long at all. You can use a premade solution that you buy at the store, or you can try to make your own solution.

While canvas has water resistant tendencies, it is not completely waterproof. You will want to treat your tent to be waterproof when you first buy it, and once a year after that. If you feel it’s necessary, you can treat your tent more often.