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Do tents lose their waterproofing?

How To Restore Waterproofing On Your Tent

Just as any item is susceptible to wear and tear, so are camping gears. In particular, the waterproof quality of tents. Tents cannot stay waterproof forever, especially if the tent is being used extensively. That is not to say that these tents have to be thrown out like garbage after their waterproof efficiency decreases. There are ways to prolong the lifespan of a tent as long as you are willing to put in the effort and time to maintain it. So, before we dive into all of that, let us cover the telltale signs that your tent has lost its waterproof efficiency.

Is it possible for tents to lose their waterproofing?

Generally, it is possible for tents to lose their waterproofing but it might not be such a common case as good quality tents tend to last longer. They are usually made with better quality items which then makes them more durable and resilient. In spite of all that, it is still recommended for tent owners to still perform the necessary maintenance works to ensure that the waterproofing is working well. Normally, the waterproofing can last years but that is why there will be reapplication of waterproofing agents required.

How can you tell when your tent loses its waterproofing?

There can be many signs that give you a hint as to whether your tent is losing its waterproofing, but the most obvious one would be to see if water droplets bead on the outside of the tent. You can test this out by either leaving out your pitched tent in the rain or using your own water spray at home to test it out. Once the water does not accumulate on the outside and instead leaks through to the other side, that is when you will know the waterproofing of your tent requires some work.

How does my tent lose its waterproofing?

We know that tents cannot remain waterproof forever, but do we know why? Well, there are actually a variety of reasons why our tents can lose their waterproofness.


Firstly, it depends on how you intend to use your tent. It matters because if it is going to be in the scorching sun or pouring rain, it is bound to erode away the waterproofing of your tent. A tent is normally waterproof because of the coating that is applied to the surface. So, exposing the coating to the harsh sun would cause the coating to clear off. Even under the rain, the slightly acidic rainwater will wean it away. 

Next, it also depends on how a tent is stored. If you are someone who constantly utilises your tent, you would find that the waterproofness of your tent will last for a shorter duration. This is because of the constant usage and results in the coating being eroded away. Apart from that, after using, storing it in a musty garage can also cause the tent’s fabric to weaken.

How can I stop my tent from losing its waterproofness?

Step 1: Before beginning steps to repair the waterproofing of your tent, you need to clean out any foreign contaminants like dust or dirt. So, when you find a relatively bright and sunny day, it could be a good time to bring out the buckets to give your tent a good scrub-a-dub-dub.


Step 2: The efficient part about this step is that you do not have to waste time waiting for the tent to dry and you can jump right into applying the reproofing. Remember to pitch up your tent properly so that you can cover all the surface area that you should be getting at. Once you are done applying, this is where you have to let it sit out in the sun to dry up completely.

Step 3: Amend the seams which are most vulnerable to the intrusion of rainwater. Most of the time, tents come with sealed seams but over time, the sealant also gives way. That is why it is recommended that the sealant be reapplied. You can easily do this yourself by obtaining the appropriate tools – a rag, rubbing alcohol, and a seam sealer. Different tents made with different materials require different types of sealants, if you are unsure, please consult the manufacturer.


Step 4: Over time, most of us also experience the floors and walls of our tent flaking. This is usually a sign that we need to reapply a new urethane coating. For this step, you would need to get a sponge with an abrasive side, rubbing alcohol and the urethane sealant. The sponge and rubbing alcohol will be used to scrub off any excess flakes that did not come off. Once the affected areas have been thoroughly cleaned out, all you have to do is apply the sealant as per the manufacturer’s instructions and leave it out to dry for at least 24 hours.


Step 5: The last but most important step is to refresh the water repellent coating on your tent. Before you start, do give your tent a rinse as the product tends to stick better when the surface is moist. After that, simply apply the product all over the surfaces where you want water to be repelled. Leave it on for a few minutes and wipe off the residue that remains. Your tent should be almost as good as new now.


It is very possible for tents to lose their waterproofing, even if the tent is of superb quality. This is due to the wearing out of certain agents or fabric of the tent. As such, if you are someone who would like to continue using their tent, it is suggested that the necessary maintenance be taken on. While it tends to take up quite a bit of effort and time, it will definitely be worth the save especially if the tent is something that you are already comfortable with. It is very simple to take matters into your own hands and reproof the tent so that it can be used again.


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