How To Waterproof A Tent


Whether you’ve suddenly decided to go on a camping trip or there happens to be a great chance of rain and your tent is not waterproof, you could find yourself in a situation where you need a waterproof one as soon as possible. Before you pick up your phone and let them know you’re staying home, or you decide to buy the new one, there are some things you could do with the tent you already own. In this article, you’ll be reading about how to waterproof a tent, without having to spend hundreds of dollars on buying a new one. Yes, any kind of tent will do, and you can easily turn it into a waterproof one with just a bit of skill and will.

Before Tent Waterproofing Process Starts

There are two conditions your tent has to meet if you want to make it waterproof – it has to be dry, and it has to be clean. If you don’t clean it, all the layers you add to your tent will cover the dirt and even the slightest rain will easily remove it.

Take a bucket, add warm water to it, and soak a sponge. Use the soft side of your sponge to avoid possible tears in your tent’s fabrics. Gently wipe your tent using the sponge. Make sure you’ve got it all and that you’ve covered your tent without missing a spot. Don’t be lazy and try to cheat using your washing machine to wash it, because it could also stretch and tear the fabric.

Tarp As The Floor Protector

When you think about the weakest spots of your tent, in the terms of water resistance, the most crucial, and the one that is probably the hardest to control is the floor. Don’t be surprised if it doesn’t rain, and you still manage to find the inside of your tent moist. Remember, camping in nature means you’ll have to place your tent somewhere on the ground, which probably means your tent will land on some kind of vegetation. Add their moisture to the equation, and voila – no rain, but the inside of your tent is wet!

To prevent this, place tarp before you place your tent. It will not only prevent the moisture from getting in, but it will also protect your tent from the rocks and plants under your tent from damaging it.

When you buy a tent, it is most likely factory taped, but not sealed, which means there is a weak spot on your tent. To be more precise, it is the place where the wall and the floor connect. If you look at the seams, you’ll see that factory taped ones come with a small piece of waterproof fabric between the double stitches. It will serve you a bit, but if you want complete waterproof protection, you’ll have to apply a seam sealer. Do it by adding a thick layer on the seam, let it dry. Once it does, it will act as a great waterproofing material and it will stop the water from getting in through the cracks.

Now it is time to apply a waterproof spray to the floor. Start from the inside, soak the floor in the spray, and spread it using a towel. Let it dry. Once it dries out, repeat the process on the outside – soak it, spread, and let it dry.

Important – inhaling waterproofing spray can be toxic, so do not inhale it. Also, it is better to do it outside. And last but not least – don’t close your tent doors and windows. Open them wide.

How To Add Seam Sealer

Seams could wear out as time goes by and as you use them, which could end up letting the water inside. To fix a leaking seam, you’ll need a rag, rubbing alcohol, a seam sealer (make sure you’ve got the right one for your tent fabric), and a piece of cloth.

Start by placing your tent somewhere where the light is bright, so the seams become easily examinable. Make sure it is dry and sunny. Because you’ll be sealing seams on the inside of the fly, but the fly inside out, which will make it easier to access the seams. If you spot the tape coming loose, remove the peeling sections but don’t touch those that are intact.

Clean the seams gently using a rag and rubbing alcohol. Then, add the fresh seam sealer to the seams. If one of the seams is broken, the rest will probably follow shortly, so it is good to seal all the seams. Then, let it dry completely.

If The Wall Leaks

Waterproofing the walls is basically the same process as waterproofing the floor is. Use the same spray you’ve used on your tent’s floor, soak the wall, and spread it using the towel or the cloth. Then let it dry. This could be done even faster if you do it right away after the floor. Just squeeze the rest of the liquid on the wall and spread it.

Using Rainfly

Some tents have it preinstalled, some don’t, but one of the first things you should check – and get if yours doesn’t have it already added – is a rainfly. It is, simply said, a plastic layer that serves as a cover for your whole tent, which means it should keep the water away from it. If your manufacturer doesn’t have or allow the usage of the rainfly, get a tarp, possibly the same kind you’ve used on your floor. Don’t let your rainfly touch the inner wall of the tent. If you’ve opted out for a tarp, fixate it by placing rocks on the edges, to keep it steady and in place.

How To Refresh The Urethane Coating

Once the stuff starts to flake off in the inside of your rainfly, or you see that happening on the tent’s floor, you should add a urethane coating.  You’ll need a sponge with an abrasive side, rubbing alcohol, and tent sealant – make sure it is the right one for your tent type.

Lay the rainfly and scrub off the flaking coating using a sponge and rubbing alcohol. Then apply a thin layer of the new sealant to the whole fly or the floor. Make sure you follow the directions provided on the bottle of the sealant. Once done, let it dry for about 24 hours.

Refresh The DWR

DWR, or durable water repellent, could wear off and it won’t do what it is supposed to do – repel the water. To refresh it, you’ll need waterproof spray, water, and a clean cloth.  To refresh it, set the tent up, and when it is up, spray the rainfly with the clean water. If your tent is freshly washed, it is not necessary to wait before you add DWR coating. Following the line of the exterior part of the rainfly, spread the waterproof spray making sure the whole surface is covered. Wait for a few minutes, then wipe what’s left and let your tent dry before you store it.

What Not To Do


Sometimes you’ll see some advice that will sound strange to you, and you should trust your gut with it. Here are some things you should most definitely not do to waterproof your tent:

  • Don’t add grease or lard to the rainfly! Yes, it will, if you look at it simply, keep the water out of your tent, but it will also remove all the waterproof coating. Plus, it smells really awkward, it will attract different types of insects and rodents, and it is really hard to work with a tent that is covered in grease.
  • Don’t use duct tape! It won’t help so much, while it could cause serious damage to your tent walls once you decide it is time to remove it. Remember, the tents are mostly made of really soft and sophisticated materials, and duct tape could ruin them.
  • Don’t use the candle wax! OK, the story goes like this – you lit up a candle, let the wax drops land on the hole and it should seal it up. Yes, it works in theory, but in reality, you’ll most likely end up burning your tent down (worst case scenario), or simply ruin it by melting the plastics on the inside of your tent.
  • Don’t place your tent where the steam could appear! Pay attention, this is important – once you find the right location for your tent, make sure it is not in a place where the water steam could strike. No matter how new or well waterproofed your tent is, you’ll end up wet because it won’t be able to withhold that amount of water. So, pay attention to where you land your tent or you could end up waking up floating or freezing in your sleeping bag.

Globo Surf Overview

If you’re not someone who spends most of the time outside, camping, but you just love to make the occasional trip with your friends, the easiest and by far the cheapest option for you is to waterproof your old tent, instead of buying a new one just for that one trip. All you need is a tarp, a seam sealer, and a waterproofing spray. You’ll pay a few bucks, but it will do the job.

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My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!