In this article, we have shared quick and easy DIY tips and tricks about waterproofing a canvas tent. You may probably think that the canvas tent is already waterproofed, and there is no need to waterproof them. But in reality, this is not the case. Cotton canvas tent does have the built-in water-resistant capability, but there is a need to make them waterproof fully by seasoning and waterproofing them through some process which we have explained in this guide.

Seasoning and Waterproofing

Waterproofing a canvas tent consist of two processes one is called seasoning, and the other is called waterproofing.

During manufacturing, canvas tent goes through a lot of sewing processes. In this way, the piercing of the needle creates a tiny hole all around the canvas. These tiny holes then work as a path for the rainwater to pour down inside the tent.

So to prevent this happen seasoning is done to block these tiny holes and prevent rainwater from pouring inside the tent. Let’s first discuss what seasoning is in terms of tent seasoning.

Seasoning is the process of wetting the canvas tent by soaking it underwater through hosing. The cotton absorbs the water and swells, and when the tent gets dry, the canvas shrinks, and the holes of the piercing. So through this process, you make your tent seasoned for wet weather. So you are fighting water with water as there is a famous saying fighting fire with fire meaning.

The next thing is to make the tent waterproof by applying waterproofing products like waterproofing spray; if you are confused why there is a need to waterproof the canvas tent when we have already seasoned the tent.
Seasoning only makes the tent hole shrink and does not seal the holes completely.

So to make the tent completely waterproof, holes are sealed by applying the sealant to the seams. The waterproof spray is applied to the tent fabric to prevent rainwater from making the tent fabric wet.
Also, the seasoning applied to the tent reduces as the tent gets older. So there is a need to waterproof the canvas tent even after seasoning it.

How to season a canvas tent : 5 easy steps

Seasoning a canvas tent is not a daunting task and it can take a few items: a water hose, backyard, and time.

Step 1 : Large vacant area

Pitch your tent in a large vacant area. It can be your backyard for seasoning the tent. The tent needs to remain in the backyard for a couple of days as you have to perform the process of wetting the tent couple of times and wait to get the tent dry out completely.

Make sure the area you choose is free-space, and the tent does not create any barrier or hurdle on your path. Place the tent on the ground as you place it on the campsite. Stretch out the tent and shut all the windows and doors.

Step 2: Soak the tent Until it gets wet completely

Now soak the tent in water. You can do this by spraying pressure water through a hose. Make sure you keep housing the tent with water for a couple of minutes until the tent gets wet entirely. You have to make sure that the water passes through the sewed holes, so they get shrink once they get dried.

You also need to take care of the weather as well. Suppose there is a forecast of rain for a couple of days. It would be better to wait for the rainy days. Once you are done with soaking, walk through the tent to see if any holes remain unsoaked by seeing whether the sun ray is passing through the hole or not. If there is any hole left, make it soak well.

Soak it again

After you have soaked the tent, rest under the sun. You have to make sure the sun rays are too warm to make the tent hot. You don’t just need to dry the tent but make it soo warm that you feel the heat upon touching the tent.

To achieve this, you must need a sunny day where the sun shines at its full, and its rays are extremely hot to make the tent baked just as you put the cake in the oven for baking. When you put your finger on the baked cake, you feel the heat.

Once the tent is dry completely, now it’s time to repeat the process of soaking by following the same procedure as you have done in step 2. As we discussed, early seasoning of a tent is time taking process and needs repetition of the soaking process.

step 4 : Test the Result of Seasoning

After you have soaked and dried the tent multiple times through the process of seasoning. Now it’s time to check the result of the seasoning process. Pack the tent back and unpack and place it as you place it on the campsite.

For testing, you need to make the tent wet as it gets wets during rain. Just spray water on the tent by using a shower hose and make it wet completely. Make sure the water passes through the holes, which we aim to block through seasoning. If there is a prediction of rain after you have done seasoning in the upcoming day, wait for the rain and test the seasoning under rainy conditions. Otherwise, you can test through hosing.

Walk around inside the tent to ensure no leakage and the holes are entirely wet inside. If there is leakage, you need to apply waterproofing on the leak areas. As further seasoning does not make any further improvement.

Step 5: Now dry the tent and pack it

After seasoning the tent couple of times and testing the seasoning, dry out the tent and pack it inside the pack to be taken to the campsite. While packing, make sure the tent is dried completely. Seasoning does not last forever. You need to repeat this process every twelve months to make sure your tent performs well under rainy conditions whenever you take it camping.

How to waterproof a tent 4 easy quick steps

So far, you understand why you need to waterproof the tent even after seasoning the tent. As seasoning on the tent does not last much longer, you need to make it waterproof by applying waterproofing products to the tent.

As the tent tends to wear and tear, the seasoning applied to the tent also reduces its water-resisting capability with time. That’s why you need to use waterproofing products to prevent water from getting inside the tent.

There are multiple waterproofing products available in the market to make different areas of tent waterproof. The tent can be made waterproof by sealing the seams and applying waterproofing spray on the tent canopy.

For sealing the seam, there are different sealants depending upon the type of tent fabric. There are two sealant types, one for silicone fabrics and the other for the polyurethane-coated tent.

The following way to waterproof a tent is by applying DWR waterproofing spray and applying the DWR coating on the wet tent. These are two methods of waterproofing canvas tents.

Step 1: Place your tent in open area

Layout the tent in an open area such as the backyard to start applying waterproofing products on the tent, which we have discussed above. Ensure all the products, damp cloth, and water hose are arranged at your place.

Step 2: Clean the tent before applying product

Clean the tent thoroughly before applying any product. Wash the tent with soap and water and remove any dirt on the tent. Gently scrub the tent with a brush to remove tough stains and dirt from the tent.

You can also use specific DIY tips such as a mixture of vinegar and lemon in water to remove tough stains and dirt smell from the tent.

Step 3: Apply the product

Now apply the waterproofing product like seam sealant and DWR spray on the tent. To apply sealant on the seams, spread the sealant along the inside of the seam and lay the sealant with a small brush on the seam. Let the sealant dry entirely before proceeding further.

The best approach to apply the DWR coating is to make the tent wet. You can start with applying DWR coating after cleaning the tent. Spray the coating evenly over the fly. After a couple of minutes, take a damp cloth, wipe off any excess layer, and let the tent dry before testing the waterproofing.

Step 5: Test the waterproofing

Now it’s time to test the tent’s waterproofing by pouring water on the tent through a water hose. If the water outflow over the tent fly, the waterproofing applied worked successfully. Also, examine the tent from inside to see whether the seams are sealed. If all the tests pass, the tent is now waterproofed entirely and ready for camping under rainy conditions.


Canvas tents are the best option for camping as they keep you safe and protected from harsh weather conditions. Canvas tents are durable, sturdy, breathable, large, and spacious. They have built-in waterproofing capability.

But for a new canvas tent, they need to be seasoned and waterproof to enhance their natural water-resisting capability to provide you ultimate protection from the rain.

So at the end of this article, you have learned how to waterproof a canvas tent at home with simple and easy DIY tips.


Meet our camping blog author, Mark Allen! Mark is an avid outdoors enthusiast who grew up camping and hiking in the Pacific Northwest. He has since explored the wilderness of many different regions across the United States and Canada, and has a deep passion for sharing her experiences and knowledge with others. Mark has been writing about camping and hiking for over five years, and has contributed to a variety of online publications and print magazines. Her writing style is approachable and engaging, and she loves to share tips and advice for beginners just getting started in the outdoors.