Do you need to waterproof a new tent?
Opinions may be divided about this.
However, if you are an experienced camper, you know you want to have your outdoor gear in top shape all the time.
You have just bought a new tent, and you are wondering whether you need to waterproof it. In fact, can you waterproof a tent? Isn’t a new tent supposed to be waterproof?
So, do you need to waterproof a new tent? You may need to. Most manufacturers indicate that their tents are waterproof. The tents are made using waterproof materials. However, unless you are buying a costlier tent, you may be required to waterproof it if you will use it for camping in the rain.
How To Know Whether To Waterproof Your Tent
To know if you should waterproof a new tent, you should check it first.
Find out whether the seams are sealed.
But wait … do new tents need a seam sealer? If the seams are not sealed, and your tent is made from waterproof materials, it will still leak.
The rain will find its way inside through the stitch holes of the seams. And so your new tent will need a seam sealer.
The tents that have sealed seams may not require sealing. By sealed, it means that the seams have a waterproof coating. Some tents have a seam tape to seal the seams.
If the seams are sealed and the tent is leaking, the problem could be with the tent fabric. Nowadays, most of the tent fabrics are waterproof. Therefore, the DWR and sealant could have worn off.
That is why it is advisable to test the tent for “waterproofness” first before you head out for camping.
Set it up and spray water on it, generously. Check the seams and the fabric for signs of leaking to know whether you will waterproof it.
How to Waterproof a Tent
After you have realized you need to waterproof your tent, how do you do it? How do you waterproof a tent for cheap?
You need to check what is leaking first. Is it the seams or the fabric?
Sealing the seams
If your new tent is leaking, most likely the seams are not sealed.
That means you will need to get a seam sealant. Even if they are tape-sealed (waterproof tape sewn on seam’s inside), the rainfly and the floor seams may require additional sealing.
Check the manufactures instructions to know the type of sealant to buy and how to apply it. Polyurethane-coated fabrics will require different seam sealers from that of the silicone treated materials.
Set up the tent in a dry area. Turn the tent fly inside out because you are required to seal the seams on the inner side.
Remove any peeled sealing tape and gently clean the seams using rubbing alcohol and rug.
Apply the seam sealant to the seams using a brush to make them waterproof. Air the tent for 24 hours for it to dry.
Sealing the Tent Fabric
If you seal the seams or they were pre-sealed and the tent is leaking, the fabric is not waterproof.
Check it keenly to see whether it has holes. This may be unlikely for a new tent. However, an old one may have holes. Patch up the holes using fabric patches.
If the tent doesn’t have holes and it is leaking, it is the fabric that has a problem. You will need to apply a waterproof coating.
There are two types of the waterproof coating. There is the tent sealant, which is applied if the tent fly is peeling inside and DWR waterproofing spray, which is used if the tent is soaking water.
Applying tent sealant
If the tent fly is peeling on the inside, or the fabric of your new tent is leaking, you should apply the tent sealant.
For your new tent, you can refresh the coating on the floor of the tent and the rainfly, to be on the safe side, even if it is not leaking. Besides, an additional coat of the sealant will add more life to your tent.
There is polyurethane treatment and silicone treatment. The one to use will depend on the fabric. Most tents are made using polyurethane fabric. Therefore, you should use urethane treatment.
To apply, lay the tent fly. If the tent is peeling, scrub it using a sponge and rubbing alcohol. Apply the sealant to the tent floor or the fly on the inside of the tent. Leave the tent to dry for 24 hours before you store it.
Apply DWR – durable water repellent
Is your tent not beading up the rain? Then it needs DWR (durable water repellent) waterproofing spray.
The coating will prevent water from seeping through the tent. Instead, it forms beads on the outside of the tent. The beads of water then roll down the tent.
To apply this treatment, set up the tent and wash it with clean water. Spray the DWR on the outer side of the tent fly. Give it a few minutes and then wipe off the excess with a damp cloth.
How often should you waterproof your tent?
You should waterproof your tent if you notice that it is leaking or the coating is peeling. Always check the tent each time you want to head out for some alpine camping to see if it needs waterproofing.
How often to waterproof your tent can depend on the usage. If you use yours often and in harsh weather, you have to waterproof it more often.
Do you need to waterproof a new tent? You may have to but again, you may not have to. Whether you have bought a costly or cheap one, it is very important that you test it for waterproofness before you can head out for camping. If it needs resealing/retaping the seams, or applying a DWR on the fabric, you can do it in good time.