Canvas Awnings and Tents

Written by michelle hogan
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Canvas Awnings and Tents
Canvas tents and awnings are a good fabric for wind and water protection while outside. (une tente berbère image by MONIQUE POUZET from

Canvas awnings and tents are 100 per cent cotton cloth (just like an artist uses) treated with waterproofing material. Most waterproofing solutions are made of silicone or a hybrid of silicone and other plastic materials. Canvas is a preferred outdoor material because it is equally durable and breathable. When the cotton is interwoven with polyester, it produces a superior fabric that is very strong, breathable and weather resistant.


The word "canvas," comes from the word "cannabis," a Latin word meaning hemp. Hemp was often used, historically, to make canvas. Canvas in modern times is made from cotton, linen or synthetic materials like polyester. Hemp is considered the oldest of fibre-bearing plants. The Chinese made cloth out of hemp in approximately 3,000 B.C. Hemp has great strength and also makes good rope and cord. Hemp began appearing in fabrics from India by 1,500 B.C. and then cotton was carried from North Africa to Europe in the eighth century. Cotton canvas was used for sail-making in Spain and Italy. J.E. Rhoads and Sons was founded in 1702 and is the oldest canvas-making company in America. They began by making canvas conveyor belts and flat belts for water mills.


Canvas tents and awnings are extremely durable, come in a wide variety of sizes, styles and weights and provide excellent UV protection while still being breathable. For camping or other outdoor activities, an awning on your camper or tent made of canvas will provide ample protection from wind, sun, rain and even snow. When combined with water- and fireproofing solutions or synthetic materials, canvas tents are virtually indestructible.


After a trip, set up your tent or awning completely. Brush off any dust or debris (a dust brush or broom works well) and then spray it down with water. Use a scrub brush and plain water to remove any stains. If you have difficult stains, refer to your manufacturer's instruction manual before applying a stain remover, as the canvas may have been treated with a variety of solutions that could react with whatever you try. Let the canvas dry out completely before storing.

Mold and Mildew

Never store a tent or awning damp, this can lead to mould and mildew. If you find that your tent or awning has mould or mildew on it the next time you get it out, use a soft bristle brush and 1 qt. of white vinegar mixed with 5 qts. of water. Scrub out the mould or mildew. Allow the tent or awning to dry in the sun. The sun will further "bleach" the canvas. If this does not work, you will want to contact the manufacturer of your tent or awning to see if they have a recommendation or special cleaning solution you can try. Do not use chlorine bleach to clean canvas, as bleach rots fabric and will weaken your tent or awning.


Don't use aerosol sprays, detergents or even children's bubble solutions around your canvas tent. Spraying hairspray or deodorant; doing the dishes; or even blowing bubbles (soap-based) that land on your tent or awning can deteriorate the waterproofing solution and cause a wet night inside a tent.

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