Waterproofing polyester dome tent

Submitted: Thursday, Jul 13, 2006 at 11:31



What's the best way to waterproof a Coleman polyester dome tent?


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AnswerID: 183316   Submitted: Thursday, Jul 13, 2006 at 11:44

Member - Jeff M (WA) replied:

Use the fly that came with it? Not trying to be a smart ass, but that's the idea of the fly. I have noticed, however, that some of these cheap dome tents on ebay now say "fly optional" so if you have one without the fly, probally need to get one for it.
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FollowupID: 439835   Submitted: Thursday, Jul 13, 2006 at 11:48

garbage posted:

Mine didn't come with a fly. I was thinking more along the lines of some sort of waterproof material to paint/spray onto the tent.

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FollowupID: 439837   Submitted: Thursday, Jul 13, 2006 at 11:51

Member - Jeff M (WA) posted:

You could try a regular silicone spray (get it from camping shops or even dick smiths), that's what I use on the canvas tent, however I'm not sure how well it would work in heavy rain. Other option would be to just stick a tarp over the top if you are expecting heavy rain.
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AnswerID: 183322   Submitted: Thursday, Jul 13, 2006 at 12:19

Dave from P7OFFROAD Accredited Driver Training replied:

it didn't have a fly???

What model Coleman was it??

Waterproofing spray 'can' make the material inflexible and prone to developing small cracks...

There may be a fly made for it, hit me with the name of the tent and I'll have a look for you...

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FollowupID: 439864   Submitted: Thursday, Jul 13, 2006 at 13:32

garbage posted:

Ohhh, by fly, do you mean the outer layer of the tent? For some reason, I was thinking of something else.

If that's the case, it does have a fly, but it was still leaking during a heavy downpour.
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FollowupID: 439867   Submitted: Thursday, Jul 13, 2006 at 13:47

Dave from P7OFFROAD Accredited Driver Training posted:

was it the first time you used it?

did it leak through the fabric or through the seams??
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FollowupID: 439872   Submitted: Thursday, Jul 13, 2006 at 13:53

garbage posted:

It was the second time we used it, but the first time it actually rained. I couldn't figure out where it was leaking from.
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FollowupID: 439901   Submitted: Thursday, Jul 13, 2006 at 14:52

Dave from P7OFFROAD Accredited Driver Training posted:

It could be as simple as the stitching had not yet 'swollen' to fill the holes in the fabric. When you first buy a tent or swag you should set them up and give them a thorough soaking to make the stitching swell.

You may find that it does not leak again, or that you may in, in fact , have warranty claim on the fabric itself.

Out of interest, which Coleman tent was it??
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FollowupID: 439912   Submitted: Thursday, Jul 13, 2006 at 15:42

garbage posted:

Does this seam swelling thing happen on poly tents as well? I had thought it was only for canvas.

I don't have the tent on me, but from memory, it might have been a "Traveller 3" or something. I bought it about a year or two ago but have since moved to canvas. I'm lending the Coleman to my brother.

I'll set it up this weekend to see if it leaks under a good soaking.
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FollowupID: 439913   Submitted: Thursday, Jul 13, 2006 at 15:49

garbage posted:

Actually, here's the one I have:

Site Link
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FollowupID: 439917   Submitted: Thursday, Jul 13, 2006 at 15:57

Dave from P7OFFROAD Accredited Driver Training posted:

Yep, the swelling happens on all tents and swags, it is the stitching that is swelling, not necessarily the fabric.
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AnswerID: 183328   Submitted: Thursday, Jul 13, 2006 at 12:34

Hairy replied:

You can buy spray on waterproofing but its meant for canvas? (camping shops)
No polyester tents Ive ever seen are any good without a fly though.
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AnswerID: 183331   Submitted: Thursday, Jul 13, 2006 at 12:57

johannagoanna replied:

unless you want to stuff your tent - don't spray anything on it!!!! Buy a tarp!

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AnswerID: 183339   Submitted: Thursday, Jul 13, 2006 at 13:41

Member - Omaroo (NSW) replied:

From: Campmor Tent FAQ

34. Can I waterproof my tent with a silicone spray?

Yes and no. Silicone can be sprayed on to improve waterproofing but can not be applied as a primary waterproof coating. When your tent is new the nylon or polyester on the fly, floor or walls has what is known as a Durable Water Repellency or DWR. This is applied to the actual threads and is separate from the urethane coating on the underside of the fabric. The DWR causes water to bead up and run off similar to the wax finish on a car. As the tent is used or through age the DWR breaks down and allows water to stay on the fabric where it can seep through any breaks or abrasions in the urethane coating. Silicone renews the DWR so that water beads up and runs off before the water has a chance to find any breaks or cracks in the urethane. Silicone usually needs at least 2 coatings to be most effective but follow all directions with the product you are using. Silicone is to be applied to the outside or the uncoated side of the fabric; it will not work if applied to the underside or the urethane coating.

35. The waterproof (urethane) coating of my old tent is coming off. Can I recoat it?

You could, but it is a lot of work. By the time the coating comes off of a tent, the tent is usually in its advanced years (10-15) and maybe ready to retire. However, if you can't bear to let your old musty friend die, it is possible to recoat the tent. Most tents have the urethane coating on the under side of the fly and the inside of the body. First, the surface must be cleaned with a light soap solution (see above) and dried. Then all the loose urethane must be removed. Then, and only then, can you apply a recoat. Follow all directions on the product carefully. Whatever you apply will not be as good as when the tent was new as it is only a surface coat and the original was sprayed on under pressure. Good luck.
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FollowupID: 439866   Submitted: Thursday, Jul 13, 2006 at 13:46

garbage posted:

Thanks for that. Do you know whether it applies to canvas only or the polyester/nylon tents as well?
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FollowupID: 439874   Submitted: Thursday, Jul 13, 2006 at 13:58

Member - Omaroo (NSW) posted:

Silicone applies to polyester in this case.

One other thing - there are seam sealands available in yubes that you brush into the seams of poly tents if that's where the leaks are coming from. Are you sure it's not a seam (up on top somewhere) that's leaking rather than the material itself?

Canvas tents are somewhat different. Canvas tents typically leak at the seams before they have initially been "seasoned". By "seasoning, I mean let the tent sit under a sprinkler (a tad illegal in some cities these days) or out in the rain during a heavy downpour or two. This will swell the stitching in the seams to close the gaps. It also lets the canvas fibres swell and close up ranks together. Canvas tents rely on the fibres swelling wen wet, and forming a level of surface tension. If you touch canvas when its wet it will leak because you break that surface tension. I have heard of solutions that you can apply to re-waterproof canvas, but remember that AUSTRALIAN-made tents use Australian canvas - which is arguably the best in world, and is waterproofed before the tent is made from it. Its "beading" quality of waterproofing usually lasts around 5 years of decent use before you are back to relying on swollen fibres and surface tension again.
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AnswerID: 183393   Submitted: Thursday, Jul 13, 2006 at 20:03

Kiwi Kia replied:

Go to a camping shop and get a tube of seam sealer. Some water may seep or be forced through the sewing holes on a new tent. Some manufacturers provide a tube of seam sealant with the tent when purchased.

Polyester thread as used on the seams does NOT swell when wet !

The reason you use a fly is to reduce condensation on the inside of the tent. Shake a tent with condensation on the inside and it can seem like it is raining on the inside. Are you sure the tent leaked? It may just be condensation running down the inside and not actualy leaking.
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