How to Treat Canvas for Water Proofing

Written by christina sloane
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How to Treat Canvas for Water Proofing
Waterproof your tent to stay dry while camping. (Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

Canvas is a sturdy fabric well suited for shoes, tarps, tents and sports equipment. The fabric is naturally waterproof to some extent -- when canvas gets wet, its fibres swell up and prevent moisture from coming in. In heavy rainfall, however, water may eventually leak through the fabric, ruining a camping experience. Wet canvas also attracts mildew. You can use commercial waterproofing products to treat canvas materials before using them in wet weather.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Waterproofing spray
  • Petroleum-based waterproofing product
  • Garden sprayer, paintbrush or paint roller

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  1. 1

    Wash your canvas material and allow it to dry thoroughly.

  2. 2

    Lay the canvas material outside on a flat surface that is free of debris.

  3. 3

    Spray small canvas items, such as shoes, with an even coat of waterproofing spray that is available at shoe stores. After the spray dries completely, sprinkle water on your canvas item to test the spray's effectiveness. If the water beads up, the spray is effective. If water doesn't bead, spray again or try a different product.

  4. 4

    Treat larger canvas items, such as tents, with petroleum-based waterproofing products, available at hardware stores. Apply an even coat of the product with a garden sprayer, paintbrush or paint roller. Apply three coats in all, letting the product dry between coats. For added protection, apply a coat to the opposite side of the canvas. After the waterproofing product dries completely, sprinkle water on the canvas to ensure that the waterproofing product is effective.

  5. 5

    Repeat the waterproofing process if the canvas is exposed to heavy rainfall, or at least once a year.

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