Buy Now, Pay Later with Afterpay & Zip

Buy Now, Pay Later with Afterpay & Zip

Buy what you want now. Make your first payment today and the rest over six weeks. And best of all, there are no additional fees if you pay on time.

30 Day Returns & Exchanges

Complete peace of mind when buying online

See Returns Policy
Waterproof Tent Guide - Horizon

How to Waterproof a Tent: A Step-By-Step Guide

Follow these simple instructions to re-waterproof your tent and extend its performance.


The number one purpose of your tent is to keep you dry and protected when you’re camping, but the waterproof coating wears out over time. Re-waterproofing a hiking tent is essential for maintaining its lifespan and performance. This guide will walk you through the process step by step, from identifying the need for re-waterproofing to applying the right treatment.

Re-Waterproofing a Tent: Instructions

Step 1: Assessing Your Tent

How do you know if your tent needs re-waterproofing? Most tents will need to be re-waterproofed every 12-24 months, depending on how much it’s used and the conditions it’s been exposed to. The last thing you want is to discover your tent’s no longer waterproof when you’re out camping in a downpour. Follow these instructions to assess the waterproof performance of your tent.

  • Check for Damage: Inspect your tent for any signs of wear, such as thinning material, tears, or areas where the waterproof coating is flaking off on the underside of the fly.

  • Water Test: Set up your tent and gently spray water on it. Observe if the water beads up and rolls off or if it seeps through the fabric. If the water isn’t beading, it’s time to re-waterproof the tent.

  • Identify the Problem Areas: Common areas needing re-waterproofing include the rainfly, the floor, and the seams so make sure to check all three at least once a year.

Step 2: Cleaning the Tent

In order for the waterproof treatment to adhere correctly, your tent needs to be clean and free from dirt and grime, which builds up over time. Follow these instructions for how to clean your tent.

  • Set Up: Erect your tent in a well-ventilated area like a carport or outside if the weather forecast looks good.

  • Clean: Use a mild, non-detergent soap and a soft sponge or cloth to gently clean the tent fabric. Avoid harsh cleaners that can damage the existing waterproof coating. A mild, fragrance-free dish soap will do the trick, or you can buy specific wash products at outdoor stores.

  • Rinse Thoroughly: Use a hose on low pressure to rinse the soap off the tent so there’s no residue remaining.

  • Dry: Allow the tent to dry completely before applying any waterproofing treatments.

Step 3: How to Re-Waterproof Your Tent Fly

The outside of the tent fly will likely need re-waterproofing most often as it’s exposed to the sun, wind, and rain. Thankfully, re-waterproofing your tent fly is a simple job that will make a major difference to your tent’s performance.

  • Choose the Right Product: Select a waterproofing spray designed for tent fabrics. We recommend Granger’s Tent & Gear Repel for Bushbuck tents. It also restores the UV protection on your tent.

  • Application: Your tent should either be laid flat or set-up for application. For spray-on products, apply evenly over the fabric, according to the instructions on the bottle, similar to a nice even undercoat when you’re painting a wall.

  • Let it Dry: Allow the tent to dry thoroughly as per the product instructions. Some products may recommend applying heat, such as from a hairdryer, to help the treatment bond to the fabric.

Once this is done, you’ll notice that water beads and rolls off your tent fly as it should

Step 4: Sealing the Seams

Tent seams can also wear out and leak water from wear and tear. Tents are stitched together, which creates tiny holes where water can get in. These seams are sealed with either seam tape or a glue-like sealant. If you notice flaky bits coming loose around your seams, that’s a sign the seam tape is wearing out. Whether your seams are taped or sealed, you can use a sealant product to re-waterproof them. Alternatively, you can replace the seam tape. Whichever option you go with, make sure you remove as much as the seam tape as possible before applying sealant or new seam tape.

  • Inside Out: It’s easier to apply the seam sealant when the tent is set-up, but you’ll want to set the fly up inside out. The sealant should be applied to seams on the underside of the fly. If you're using seam tape it can easier to lay the tent out flat or over an ironing board.

  • Clean the Seams: Use a cloth dipped in rubbing alcohol to clean the seams. This will help the new seam sealer adhere better. If there’s residual seam tape, make sure to peel and clean as much of it as possible. You can use an iron on a low-medium heat over baking paper to help release stubborn seam tape (just be careful not to compromise the tent fabric). This helps to melt the adhesive and makes it easier to peel off.

  • Apply Seam Sealer: Use a seam sealer designed for tents, applying it smoothly over the seams. Some sealers are applied with a brush, while others come in a tube with a nozzle for easy application. Make sure the sealant covers all of the stitching.

  • OR Apply Seam Tape: Apply new seam tape over the tent seams. It's easier to do it in short strips (about 30cm) at a time. Place the seam tape over the stitching and then use the iron on a low-medium heat over grease proof paper to, essentially, melt the adhesive over the seams.

  • Dry: Let the seam sealer or tape dry completely, following the product's instructions.

Step 5: Waterproofing the Tent Floor

Your tent floor can take a hammering from being set up on all sorts of surfaces — sticks, stones, and everything in between.  It’s also exposed to a lot of ground moisture and stress from being rolled up tight and kept in storage. If your tent floor is compromised, water can seep up from under your tent while you sleep and cut your camping trip short. Follow these instructions to waterproof your tent floor.

  • Clean the Floor: As with the tent fly fabric, clean the tent floor with a mild, non-detergent soap and let it dry.

  • Apply Waterproofing Treatment: Lay the tent out flat with the floor facing up. Use a waterproofing product suitable for tent floors. The Granger’s Tent Repel does work for tent floors, but you may want to use a more heavy-duty option. Waterproof treatments can either be sprayed or brushed on.

  • Dry: Allow the floor to dry completely before using the tent.

Extra Tips for Waterproofing a Tent

  • Ventilation: Ensure your tent is well-ventilated during the drying process to prevent moisture buildup inside.

  • Testing: After re-waterproofing, it's a good idea to test your tent again with a water spray to ensure it’s watertight.

  • Storage: Store your tent in a dry, cool place, loosely packed to avoid compressing the fabric, which can damage the waterproof coating.

Now you can take your tent camping with peace of mind, knowing its waterproof powers are fully restored. Re-waterproofing your tent is something that’s easy to put off, but it’s essential if you want to get more life out of your tent and stay ready for adventure. If you think your tent may be beyond another round of waterproofing and in need of replacing, check out our range of lightweight adventure tents.

Mark Holder Bushbuck Thumbnail
Mark Holder

Mark Holder is Marketing and Events Manager at Bushbuck. His job is to plan, create and execute all of Bushbuck's marketing and organise the events and shows we attend. Mark's the host of Bushbuck's "Tech Talk" video series where we provide in-depth gear reviews. He also gets roped into a fair few Bushbuck photoshoots. Mark was born in Geraldine and now lives in Christchurch. Outside of work, he's a keen outdoorsman. He enjoys snowboarding in the winter, wakeboarding in the summer, and tries to get out hunting with mates as much as possible. His favourite wilderness spot is the Orari Gorge waterfall in Geraldine. It was his local swimming spot as a kid and an amazing place to hang out over summer. He's also a big fan of the lakes around Twizel. Something that not many people know about Mark is he used to be a professional wakeboarder.

Explore more articles from The Campfire

View all articles