How To Waterproof Canvas Tent? – 3 Helpful Hacks For You

When you are camping, the last thing you will want to worry about is rain or adverse weather affecting your tent.

While many tents are waterproof, others may need additional waterproofing, especially if they are an older model. 

How to Waterproof Canvas Tent

To help you along, we have included some easy, useful, and quick ways you can waterproof a canvas tent.

We hope that you will find these suggestions useful and that they will help to keep you nice and dry while you are camping!

Do I need to waterproof my tent?

While the majority of tents are made from a naturally waterproof cotton canvas, over time this can wear down. For example, if a small hole of tear appears this can allow rainfall and water to seep into the canvas fabric. 

When this happens, it causes the inside of the cotton canvas material to become damp. Over time, this will affect how effective your tent is when looking at waterproofing. 

The majority of new tents that have been purchased will not necessarily need to be waterproofed.

However, if you have used the tent frequently or your tent is a good few years old, waterproofing it will prove to be useful.

You will quickly realize if you need to waterproof your tent as you will notice moisture and possible pools of water in your tent.

Even if you notice small droplets of water running down the canvas inside your tent, you should consider waterproofing it. 

You may also notice water around the seams of the tent. Waterproofing will help to stop the problem before it comes to a bigger issue.

It also costs a lot less in comparison to buying a new tent because of water damage. 

How to Waterproof  A Canvas Tent

There are a few different ways in which you can waterproof a canvas tent. The method that you choose will be down to your circumstance and may vary depending on the type of canvas tent that you own. 

Using Canvas Preservative 

Using canvas preservative is one of the easiest ways to waterproof a canvas tent.

While many canvas tents are naturally waterproof, over time and with extended use, they may start to wear and become less damaged. Given this, canvas preservative can be a great alternative. 

If you are looking to purchase a canvas preservative, we would recommend:

It is a popular and effective preservative that will help to repel water and also provides UV protection.

Before you apply a canvas preservative to your tent, you will want to ensure that your tent has been put up fully. The preservative will then be applied correctly and in an even manner. 

To apply the waterproofing spray or preservative, you will need to use a paintbrush to cover the whole of the outside of the tent.

It can take a little while to dry so you will need to keep the tent up until it has dried fully. The preservative will be dry when it does not feel sticky to the touch.  

If the tent is particularly large or tall, you may need to use a step ladder to cover the tent fully. Once dried, the tent should be protected from any further rainfall. 

This method is fairly easy to achieve and will not take too long to do so. Once finished it will significantly improve the life of your tent.

This method is fairly easy to achieve and costs a lot less in comparison to purchasing a brand new tent.  

Paraffin Wax/Oil 

If you do not want to use waterproofing preservative, you can also use paraffin oil or wax.

However, it is slightly messier than using preservatives or a spray. While this method is no longer the easiest or most popular way to waterproof a tent, it used to be. 

For many centuries, this method has been used to waterproof many different materials. It is very successful.

To carry out this method, you will need to melt the wax with paraffin or white spirit. Once the mixture has been fully melted, it can be applied to the tent in the same way as the preservative. 

As it can be quite a fiddly method, the majority of people will choose to use a ready-made preservative instead. However, this way is still possible.  

Silicone Spray 

The final way in which you can waterproof a tent is by using a silicone spray. The silicone spray will waterproof the tent in a similar way to the other methods we have featured.  

Out of all of the methods featured, this is probably the easiest method to use. Silicone spray is great because it is not toxic in any way and it can be used on tents to improve how waterproof it is. 

Similar to the other methods mentioned, you should also apply the spray to your tent when it is up fully to make sure it is suitably covered.

All you will need to do is spray the silicone around 8 inches away from the tent and work at covering all of the outsides thoroughly. 

The silicone spray will take around 8 to 10 hours to dry and you should not fold away the tent until the spray has dried completely.

You will likely need to apply a second coat a few days after the initial coat to ensure that the tent has been completely waterproofed.  

If you are looking to purchase a silicone spray, we would recommend:

It is a popular and successful spray.  


As you can see, your tent may likely need to be waterproofed after you have owned it for some time. Waterproofing is fairly easy to do and will increase the life of your tent significantly. 

Waterproofing is particularly important if you have washed the canvas of the tent at all. This can make the waterproofing features less effective.

The most important thing to remember is to apply the waterproofing oil, spray, or preservative when the tent has been placed up fully. This will ensure that it is suitably covered. 

Andrew Mullen

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