How to Waterproof Outdoor Fabrics

How to Waterproof FabricsEven the most durable fabrics can take a beating and become ruined by the outside elements. Whether it's your hiking boots or tent, you'll need to take steps to waterproof them at least once a year. If you use them regularly, you'll probably need to treat them more often. Whether you want to purchase a waterproofing product at the store or make your own, there's a way to waterproof any outdoor fabric.


Difficulty: Moderate

Waterproofing Spray and Seam Sealer

Things You’ll Need:
  • Waterproof Spray
  • Seam Sealer
  • Block of Wax
  • Water
  • Large Container
  • Alum
  • Spray Bottle
  • Paint Brush
Step 1
Purchase a waterproofing spray and seam sealer at your local outdoor or camping store. They are the most widely used and easiest method to waterproof fabrics such as canvas, leather and silnylon.
Step 2
Lay the article you want to waterproof on a flat surface. If it's a tent, set it up in a well-ventilated area. The waterproofing spray can be hazardous to breathe, so make sure the area where you are working gets plenty of airflow.
Step 3
Spray the entire surface of the article. If you have a large piece of fabric you will be spraying, you may need several cans of the spray.
Step 4
Use the seam sealer to seal all the seams in your tent or other fabric gear that has seams. Seam sealer usually comes in a small bottle with an applicator on top. Roll the bottle while squeezing lightly over all the seams until they are covered.

Three Homemade Waterproofing Recipes for Canvas

Recipe 1
  Lay your canvas fabric on a flat surface. Rub a block of wax over the entire surface. To get into the corners, shave a piece of the wax into a point. Rub the pointed edge into the corners and seams of your canvas fabric. Note that the wax may change the look of the canvas. This is not the most reliable method for waterproofing, but will repel water for a period of time.
Recipe 2
  Mix 4 ounces of turpentine and 8 ounces of soybean oil in a spray container. Make sure to mix the fluids together well before applying. If you are working on a large area of canvas, you may want to spread the mixture on with a paintbrush. Spray or spread the mixture on the surface and allow to dry.
Recipe 3
  Dissolve 1 pound of laundry detergent in a large container holding 2 gallons of hot water. Stir the mixture well. Soak your canvas in the mixture until it's saturated. Remove the canvas from the mixture and hang in the sun to dry. Meanwhile, dissolve a 1/2 pound of alum in another container holding 2 gallons of hot water. Soak the canvas for a second time in this mixture, allowing it to sit for a couple of hours before removing. Hang the canvas in the sun once more to dry.

Tips & Warnings

Wax is not the most reliable choice for waterproofing fabric.
Always spray waterproofing spray in a well ventilated area since it can be toxic.

Article Written By Joyce Starr

Joyce Starr is a professional writer from Florida and owns a landscaping company and garden center. She has published articles about camping in Florida, lawn care and gardening and writes for a local gardening newsletter. She shares her love and knowledge of the outdoors and nature through her writing.

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