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How to Waterproof Canvas Tents by Seasoning?

Updated: Dec 26, 2022

While canvas tents are waterproof, they are not 100%. You will need to waterproof them to maintain them in good shape so that they can serve you well. Waterproofing your canvas tent might help you maximize the value of your investment. It may also make your evenings beneath the stars more enjoyable and worthwhile by keeping you dry and safe. Continue reading to find out how to waterproof canvas tents.

How to Waterproof Canvas Tents?

How to Waterproof Canvas Tents

I know that this procedure may appear unusual, especially given that canvas tents are promoted as water-resistant and constructed of organically waterproof cotton fabric. In fact, people often ask; Can canvas be waterproofed on its own? There could be conditions when a canvas tent in the rain doesn't behave as expected. In such a situation, you wonder, How do I stop my canvas tent from leaking?

To avoid such drastic events, canvas waterproofing is essential. What's the best way to waterproof a canvas tent? You can use the best canvas tent waterproofing products, sprays, sealants, etc. But everything, in the end, will only succeed if you do the most important step, i.e., seasoning. It is a waterproofing method for sealing microscopic pores in canvas material. Let's see how it works.

Canvas Seasoning

Canvas is primarily made of cotton, a woven fabric. Like all other woven fabrics, the stitching on the canvas is not uniform but contains tiny pores arranged throughout the cloth. Such small pores can cause moisture to sink through, resulting in frequent leakage of new tents.

Take note that I've mentioned when your tent becomes sufficiently wet. However, if the canvas becomes too damp, the cotton fibers expand. As a result, they close the mesh pores, eventually sealing the cloth from water leakage. As a result, a slight rain or a single severe storm will not seal the material. Instead, causing it to be thoroughly wet is essential to close off the woven threads. Let's see how you can do it by seasoning.

Step-by-Step Guide for Seasoning

Step 1

Assemble your tent in an area where you can soak it quickly. A bright, clear day is ideal for seasoning your tent. Set it up in a good place, probably your garden, so nobody can smash into it, requiring a repetition of the immersing and drying cycle. Close all the openings and zip up the wall windows. Extend it out and keep it as rigid as you can.

The whole seasoning procedure should be carried out under a raised tent. And, because you'll be immersing it in water, ensure the area you set up the tent is large enough, and you're okay with the tent being soaked in the first place.

Step 2

Make artificial rain using a water hose to soak the whole tent. Drench your tent for an extended period until it is wholly absorbed in water. The time it takes to soak the tent varies depending on its size, but usually, a 2-person tent takes around 5 minutes.

After you've soaked your tent, step in, and check for any apparent traces of sun rays. The appearance of sun rays would suggest that the tent needs to be sufficiently saturated and the pores are still open. Soak it all from top to bottom, giving more time and attention to all the seams.

Step 3

Leave the tent in the sun and let it dry naturally.

Step 4

Once it is scorched, soak it again, twice the time of the first soak. Go inside the tent and recheck it for any incoming sun rays. Let it dry at the end.

Step 5

It's time to check the tent's water resistance. You can fake rainfall with a water hose to check if there are any indications of leaking or anything else. Alternatively, take the tent outdoors and check how well it withstands the rain if it is raining.

Step 6

How to Waterproof Canvas Tents

If there are no leakage or other problems, fold your tent for the next trip.

However, apply a waterproofing spray for canvas tents to seal the pores if there are a few leakages because more seasoning would not assist.

Step 7

The last step should be to maintain the seasoning. You can do it after a season, but your discretion should determine the frequency.


Now you know how vital seasoning is to waterproof a canvas tent completely. However the process seems hectic, but it's worth your effort and time. After all, you don't want to ruin your fantastic trip by drenching in unexpected rain. If you are using your tent more frequently, more waterproofing is required. Furthermore, your products might influence the number of necessary waterproofings annually. It's a good idea to arrange waterproofing when cleaning and seasoning your tent. You can save time by completing all of the treatments at once.

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