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How to Waterproof a Tent

Raindrops Are Falling On Your Head? – How to Waterproof Your Tent

After all preparations, euphoria, gathering your gear at one place and mess, you have hit the road and finally arrived at the camping site. The day is sunny, nature is wonderful, and at last, you can enjoy some stillness that you can’t get in an urban surrounding.

Probably you will think that nothing in the world can spoil your camping, but you look up in the sky and realize that those gray clouds could be the party breaker factor. Maybe it won’t rain, maybe it will - you may wonder, but there is no time for second thoughts. You think that you are ready for camping.

The first drops begin to fall, and soon, the heavy rain follows. The tent is waterproof, that’s what manufacturer said on the label, but after some short time, there is leakage on the fabric. Now is a little bit late for frustration, and you hope that you won’t catch a cold.

Among many other things on your list, there should also be “check the waterproof coating of the tent”. Don’t worry, this may happen to every camper, and this article is here to help you answer the obvious question – How to Waterproof a Tent?

Before You Start

There are many things and factors that can cause the damage to the waterproof coating of your tent. For example, you have exposed your tent to the sun for an extended period, and the UV rays damaged it.

The tent wasn’t clean in a proper way so it might happen that strong chemicals damaged the coating, your tent is simply old, but you didn’t want to replace it with the new one, is it possible that some debris made a hole in the fabric, etc. The list goes on.

On the other hand, it can be comfortable for you to know that even the brand new and out of store tent is not completely waterproof so that the potential water disaster could happen to you anyway, either if you have brand new or old and worn out tent.

However this may sound strange or odd, the manufacturer or the salesman will tell you that the tent you are about to buy comes with “the best waterproof feature ever,” but the truth can be a little bit different.

Tent under the rain

It is the truth, the manufacturer will provide the tent with waterproof coating, but this is often not related to the whole tent in general.

Instead of full coating, your tent will either have waterproof walls, the floor of the tent, seams, or rain fly, but hardly the whole wrapping.

Therefore, waterproofing your new or old tent before any adventure is something that you must not neglect.

On the other side, waterproofing the tent is quite an easy task, but there are some additional steps that you must do before you start applying the coating on the tent.

Waterproofing Time

For a start, you should locate and determine what area of the tent needs waterproofing. There is no general rule related to this matter because any part of the tent will require the special and different type of care.

Instead of doing the coating of the whole tent, hold on and observe where the waterproofing should go.

Locate need waterproof


You can check this easily; all you have to do is to fill the bath tub with water and submerge the tent into the water. If you notice any air bubbles on the surface of the water, you have found the area that needs care.

So, after the checkout you will know if the floor of the tent is leaking, or is there no waterproof coating left on the walls, do you need tent fly, etc.

Next, you need to perform detailed cleaning and washing of the tent. The process will take time, so don’t hurry because the tent needs to be clean and completely dry before you start applying the waterproof coating.

Otherwise, any coating layer that you apply could peel off, because you will apply it on the dirt and the coat will be washed away with first rain.

Don't washing machine


Don’t use the washing machine, dryer, hard sponge, and chemicals, and be sure to rinse the tent with water thoroughly until there is no soap fluid left. After this, store the tent somewhere where it can dry completely, until the last seam.

You can read this useful article to discover the best and detailed way on How to Wash Your Tent.

Remember, it is the best that you do this first steps at home because you will have the time and space to do it properly.

You can’t predict any obstacle that you might encounter when you leave your home, so the chances of doing a good job outdoors are low. Be patient and take your time.

How to Waterproof the Tent Floor?

The most troublesome area of the tent is the floor. The water can get in the tent from beneath even if there is no rain because the moisture from vegetation can easily reach in through the floor of the tent. Therefore, the care for the flooring is the most crucial thing to do.

Now you will have the opportunity to take a step further to make your tent even more waterproof, and that will happen if you acquire the tarp for your tent.

The tarp will go underneath the tent providing the waterproof protection on one side, and on the other, it will give you additional insulation between you and the ground on which you will be sleeping.

Also, the tarp will also protect the floor from being damaged by the rocks, vegetation or any other debris. In other words, the waterproof tarp is a must have so that you can find one right here.

Tent Footprints

No matter if you have an old tent, or you have brand new, you should know that most of the tents will be factory taped, but they won’t be factory sealed. You would probably wonder what this means.

Well, there is a possibility that water will reach inside at the spot where wall and floor of the tent connect because the seams will have a little piece of waterproof material between the stitches. However, this is not enough, and there is no guarantee that the seams are 100% waterproof, with no matter what manufacturer claims.

The solution for this problem is the seam sealer. But before you apply seam sealer, you should take any old toothbrush and clean any debris or remnants of the old sealant.

There is an excellent seam sealer available at the market, and you should apply a thick layer directly on the seams and wait for it to dry. The result that you can get will only increase the waterproofing by stopping the moisture from reaching in between any space or crack.

After this, you should use waterproof spray and apply it on the whole floor. As far as we can see from the reviews, this one is considered to be the best.

Among waterproof feature that this spray provides, it will also make the fabric more breathable, and it won’t smell awful. You should do this step outside because inhaling of the released gas is unhealthy.

First, soak the inside floor of the tent, and dispense the fluid with some old piece of cloth or rag. When the liquid dries, repeat the process on the same way on the outside floor area of the tent.

How to Waterproof Walls of the Tent?

You can apply a waterproof coating on the walls of your tent in the same way as you did on the floor.

Simply, you already have a waterproof spray which you can use again. Therefore, soak the walls with spray, use the same piece of cloth or rag and spread the fluid.

There is no need to apply the same amount of the fluid on the walls as you did on the floor. Instead, you can just squeeze the liquid from the cloth and distribute it on the walls.


Most of the waterproof liquids will need up to 24 hours to dry, so space where you will work, must be clean from debris so the tent can dry properly.

Rain Fly is a Good Idea

Finally, you won’t make any mistakes if you acquire rain fly or rain cover for your tent.

The rain fly will be a good choice because, with no matter how much your tent is waterproof, additional safety can’t do any harm. Most of the tents on the market won’t come with this feature, so you should buy one as soon as you buy the tent.

Further, you must be sure that the rain cover is large enough to cover the whole tent completely. Therefore, measuring the tent before you buy the rain cover is the smart thing to do.

And when you get the rain cover, be sure that you use it, even if the sky is clear and the forecast says that there will be no rain.


We know how much is important that the tent must be a dry and secure place, so we think that the info that you have found in this article can be very useful for you. Be sure to follow every step responsibly, and you won’t make any mistakes.

Raindrops Are Falling On Your Head? – How to Waterproof Your Tent
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I am Melanie Campbell, an outdoor and professional camping enthusiast that will give you the best expert advice when it comes to camping and outdoor trekking. I’m here to give you expert advice and proven tips on how to make the most out of your camping adventure.

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