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June 07, 2021Best In Tents

How to Waterproof a Canopy

Imagine you are preparing to set up your tent, only to check the weather and realize there’s rain in the forecast. Uh oh…now what? If you don't have a tent from American Tent, your tent might not be as water resistant as it should be. We can’t go letting the rain put a damper on your festivities! Repairing a tent with rain damage can be a hassle, so waterproofing before use is the best way to avoid any damage to begin with!

A simple guide for how to waterproof a tent: you can (A) use a waterproof spray on the gazebo fabric, or (B) seal the seams of the canopy with silicone.

Types of Waterproof Tents

Are tents waterproof? Well, the answer to that question depends on the type of tent you have. Most tents have some water resistance capabilities, but some--like tents from American Tent--offer more protection than others.

Water-Resistant Fabrics

This provides the first degree of protection. Tightly knit fabric creates a barrier to keep the water out.

Water Repellent Tents

A water repellent tent offers second-degree protection. These tents resist rainwater due to an extra coating, allowing the water to bead up and roll right off of your canopy top!

Waterproof Tents

The final and highest degree of protection would be a waterproof tent. These tents have sturdier fabric with a solid layer of waterproof coating and they can withstand higher pressure than the other two options.

While nothing can be 100% waterproof, knowing the right preparation and material options will provide you with the best possible outcome.

How to Make Canopy Waterproof?

How to Make Canopy Waterproof

Below are the steps to create a waterproof canopy:

  1. Clean your canopy.
  2. Apply seam sealer and let it set.
  3. Use a sponge to scrape off any previously applied waterproof coating that has started to wear off or peel.
  4. Spray your whole tent with waterproof spray.
  5. Let dry completely.

If you are interested in seeing someone perform this process, check out this video.

Wait for a Sunny Day

You don’t want to try waterproofing your canvas while it’s already raining--that would just be silly! Instead, wait for a sunny, dry day to undertake the project of making your canopy waterproof.

Clean the Canopy

  1. Spread your drop cloth across the ground as protection from sticks and stones, laying your canopy over it.
  2. Use a hose or power washer to spray down the canvas, and then scrub off any stains or spots.
  3. Flip your tarp and do the same to the other side, letting both sides dry completely in the sun.

Apply Waterproof Spray on Your Canopy

The waterproof spray makes waterproofing a canopy easy! Below is a step-by-step guide on how to waterproof a canopy.

  1. Either set your tent up or lay your tent top on the drop cloth across the ground.
  2. Spray down the entire canvas with mildly warm water to wash your tent--as you should with any method of waterproofing.
  3. Apply waterproofing spray before letting the tent dry, wiping away any excess product with a damp cloth or sponge.
  4. Apply a second layer of the waterproof spray to yield the best results.

Create DIY Seam Sealer

Let’s make a DIY waterproof canopy! Avoid the cost of buying a pre-made seam sealer by just mixing up your own.

You will need:

  • Mixing container
  • Paintbrush
  • Canopy cleaner or gentle liquid soap
  • Clear silicone caulk
  • Mineral spirits

Before starting, make sure you have cleaned your tent, which can be done with either a canopy cleaner or simple soap and water. Add equal parts of 100% clear silicone caulk and odorless mineral spirits; then, mix the products together with your paintbrush until it becomes a homogeneous paste. Here is a perfect example of how your mixture should look! Once your mixture is made, it can be used to safely protect your tent from water seeping through the cracks. 

Apply Seam Sealer

You can either DIY a seam sealer as shown above, or purchase a pre-made seam sealer. Knowing how to waterproof a pop-up canopy is vital because a seam sealer will help increase the longevity of your tent.

As with any waterproofing, how should you start the process? You guessed it, clean your canopy! Apply the sealer to the seams of your tent and make sure to let it dry completely. Now, you can trust that the seams of your tent will not leak any water into your special occasion--whatever that may be!

How To Check If The Tent Is Waterproof

how to check waterproof tent

The best way to know the waterproof capabilities of your tent is to ask the supplier! If you purchase from us at American Tent, regardless of the type of tent, you can be confident in knowing that the canopy you receive will stay waterproof for plenty of uses.

However, while we pride ourselves in our canopies' water resistance capabilities, not everywhere has waterproof tents, so you will definitely want to ask about their products’ waterproof rating before buying. If you already have a tent and you discover that it is not waterproof, you can follow the steps previously mentioned to apply a seam sealer and waterproof spray, creating a rainproof canopy.

If your tent is exposed to rain, check all of the seams closely for any spots that seem to be letting water seep through. If you’ve had your tent for a while and notice any weak areas during the inspection, just apply a little extra spray and you’re good to go!

Deciding to Buy a Waterproof Tent?

If your gazebo material is not waterproof or it’s starting to leak, consider purchasing a new heavy-duty waterproof commercial tent top from American Tent! Or, if you don’t have a canopy yet, now is the perfect time to invest. We’ll make sure you will have a tent that can withstand the weather, as we have some of the best pop-up canopies for rain around!

Tony Ehrbar's headshot

Tony Ehrbar

Owner & CEO

Tony's entrepreneurial spirit is woven into the fabric of American Tent (an Inc 5000 company), shaped by his experience running a successful event venue & tent rental service. His recognition as the Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2019 is a testament to his impact & dedication to his community. As the Co-founder and CEO of Renegade Plastics, Tony is leading initiatives in the tent industry to integrate eco-friendly, recyclable materials. Contributing as a board member for the Advanced Textiles Association (ATA) & the Green Bay Area Public Schools Foundation and being featured by Entrepreneur, Oracle, & Modern Weddings, Tony plays a pivotal role in enhancing the growth and success of the textile industry.

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