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Does Canvas Shrink Over Time?

Canvas tents have become a part of the camping industry for quite some time and have proven ideal for outdoor adventures. It is made of canvas, a type of cotton that allows air to pass through it, making the inner space airy and preventing moisture.

Although being a good choice for camping, many people, mainly those unfamiliar with camping, are concerned with the fitting and shrinking of the fabric. So, does canvas shrink over time, or it stretches? Did they shrink after washing? In this article, you'll get answers to all your queries; let's check it out.

Does Canvas Shrink Over Time?

Does Canvas Shrink

So, what about the material? Generally speaking, it does, although a large part mainly depends on the brand. Canvas is a cotton cloth that goes through enduring to be completely waterproof. If you don't want the tent to drain around the pole, the openings must be watertight when the cloth does. Therefore, spray some water on the canvas camping tent before packing it if you intend to go outdoor activities in a location that frequently shows rain, snow, or a moist climate with the possibility of rain. The experiment will make it easier for you to rebuild the tent and guarantee a leak- and shrink-proof trip.

Generally speaking, cotton has the advantage of just experiencing one shrinkage. If it holds for canvas, your issues should be gone after the initial washing.

However, if your canvas material is a cotton-poly combination, you might notice no shrinkage. The polyester in the blend could increase the fabric's resistance to shrinkage. Typical polyester, after all, doesn't shrink.

Does Canvas Shrink in Hot Water Wash?

Yes, the canvas will shrink when washed in hot water, but not if you wash it in cold water; at least, that is the concept. Expect the fabric stuff to lose a significant amount of its size if it has yet to be pre-washed or pretreated to avoid shrinking.

While rinsing with hot water, you can lose up to 12 to 15%. When soaked, your canvas fabric could shrink. The material shouldn't shrink again after the initial shrinkage because cotton typically only shrinks once.

If you want to get rid of all the shrinkage at once, the hotter the water, the ideal. Ready to have a reduction of the canvas size the first time it shrinks, as it appears to lose a significant amount of volume.

Make Sure to Have Expectations about Canvas Shrinkage

You must be aware of the estimated shrinkage of your canvas. Some canvases are said to be pre-shrunk. Some canvases claim to shrink by only 3%. However, certain canvases may shrink by up to 10%.

Some canvas only shrunk by around 1%, causing it to continue to slope on the frame. Although three percent might not seem like much, for the Fourteen foot long, it equals more than 5 inches.

Finding an ideal match on any tent frame is challenging due to the unpredictable nature of fabric shrinking. Ask for an "average" shrinkage factor by professionals having years of expertise working with materials. You can calculate the parameters to apply when building frames using this average. Although, there might still be instances where your framework has to be modified to get a suitable match. It is better to decide after the tent has been installed on the frame, dampened down, and properly dried.

How to Keep Your Canvas from Shrinking?

Does Canvas Shrink

Laziness is the leading cause of tent shrinkage. Not stringing the tent and anchoring it when you think it's optional. Every time you use it, anchor it and knot it tightly to prevent it from shrinking.

You can extend it by leaving it up for five days and gradually tugging it stronger. During your most recent clamping, you may also set 2x4s beneath the side poles. Both the side panels and the top panels need to be stretched. Therefore, you'll need some sturdy stakes. Stakes it like crazy. Never compromise on the stakes. Even on soft ground, cement stakes work well as tent stakes.

Essential Tips to Fit your Tent

Suppose you plan to camp and need help with shrinkage from canvas tent installation. It's important to practice setting up your tent to stay upright and steady even if the climate isn't on your side. Here are some tips you might want to try:

  • Construct your frame using the tent's actual dimensions in mind, but not above 2% less. This allows for additional areas.

  • Never keep a canvas or rope that is dirty, sloppy, or moist in the same manner. Its lifespan is shortened by the dampness trapped within, and shrinking is unavoidable.

  • To prevent the wall from over-shrinking on one side, it is advised that anchors be fixed close to the bottom.


Canvas tents are the most popular for outdoor activities since they are incredibly durable and offer all the comforts you can ever want. The canvas material is thick and hefty. However, it doesn't guarantee it can't be shrunk. You can avoid all such hassles by getting expert glamping services that make your camping experience worth remembering.

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