Camping in the rain has its charms. But if your tent leaks, it quickly becomes a lot less fun. Most leaks are caused by the seams of your tent being worn. In this blog we tell you how leakage occurs, why leakage usually occurs at the tent seams and how you can make your tent seams waterproof again. So you can go on a camping holiday with peace of mind, even when it rains.
The most common causes of leaky tent seams
These are the main causes of leakage:
- Seam wear
- Wear of the seam tape
- Wear of the stitching thread
- Leakage when using the cotton tent for the first time
Two pieces of tent cloth are joined together at the seam. This makes the seam a vulnerable point and more prone to leakage. The seam is stitched with stitching thread and that thread wears out due to tension and intensive use, for example when you tension the tent and press tent tubes against the tent canvas. Due to the wear, space is created between the tent cloths that come together in the seam. Subsequently, water can leak through the resulting space in the tent.
Wear of the seam tape
Leakage at the seams is most common with synthetic tent fabrics. The seams of these tents are usually taped together. Intensive use and weather influences cause the seam tape to wear, causing water to leak in.
Wear of the stitching thread
Tent cloths are stitched using a sewing machine. Strong yarn is used for this. This yarn consists of a polyester core and a cotton jacket. After the first contact with moisture, the cotton jacket swells. The small stitching holes are then pressed closed. This creates a watertight seam.
The cotton mantle decomposes over time. Sometimes that digested cotton remains in the stitching hole and you don't notice it at first. But often it washes away with a heavy rain shower, causing the seam to leak.
Leakage at the seams of a new cotton tent
Have you just bought a new cotton tent and are you camping in the rain for the first time? There is a good chance that water will leak through the seams. As described above, do not expand the stitching thread until it gets wet for the first time. This closes the small holes through which the water now drips. After that you will no longer be bothered by this leakage.
Do you want to prevent leakage during the camping trip? Then set up the tent before you go on holiday and wet the tent cloth. The yarns expand and the seams are waterproof when you actually use the tent for the first time.
If the tent has already withstood several rain showers and suddenly starts to leak, it is important to check the tent seams for wear.
How do you make the seams of your tent waterproof again?
You now know how the leakage occurs, but how do we solve the problem? We first give three pieces of advice and then we tell you what you should not do.
Three pieces of advice
- Impregnate your tent
- Maintain your tent
- Apply seam tape
Impregnate your tent
The solution for waterproofing the tent seams is actually very simple: impregnation.
Start checking the stitching by running your nail over the stitching. Do you find that you can rub off the stitching? Then they are worn out. In that case, we recommend that you have an expert look at your tent.
Is the stitching still good? Then you can easily treat the seams yourself. Spray the stitching well with impregnating agent. This immediately fills up any holes and immediately gives the seams good protection. You can apply multiple coats if needed.
Maintain your tent
Proper maintenance can prevent leaking seams. Every material wears out over time. This also applies to the canvas and the tent seams. Proper maintenance can extend the life of the fabric and stitching. A few tips to maintain your tent:
- Remove stains immediately.
- Clean the tent after each use with lukewarm water and a soft brush.
- Always let the tent dry thoroughly before you put it away. If you store the tent damp, weather spots (mold) can form.
- Impregnate the tent once a year and after each cleaning.
Apply seam tape
The stitching of synthetic tent cloths is made waterproof with seam tape. This tape is applied to the inside of the seam and 'seals' the stitching. Do you have a tent made of synthetic material and the water leaks in through the seams? Then there are two ways to solve this: impregnate the seams or apply a new layer of seam tape. Seam tape is also extremely suitable for a leaking groundsheet. These are the main features of seam tape:
- Durable repair
- Extremely strong
- Well moldable
- Absolutely waterproof
- Resistant to cold and heat
- Our recommendation: TEAR-AID.
You should absolutely not do this with your seams
- Using Seam Compactor
- Cleaning seams with green soap
Do not use a seam compactor for your tent seams
As professional tent cleaners, we are not in favor of seam sealers. It's a laborious job, but that's not all. In almost all cases you will be able to see exactly where you have applied the seam sealer over time. This is because most seam sealers are silicone based, which attracts dirt easily. This creates dirty streaks. These streaks of dirt can no longer be removed.
Therefore, always use a strong impregnating agent instead of a seam sealer. See a seam leaking? Wait until the tent is dry and spray the seams well with impregnation. This way you fill in the seams and impregnate around the seam. If you use a good impregnating agent, there will be no color difference.
Never clean tent seams with green soap
Green soap is unsuitable for cleaning tent cloth. If you clean the tent seams with green soap, a greasy layer with soap residue will always be left behind. Even if you rinse it well. Dirt, fungi and algae easily adhere to the remaining green soap residue, making your tent canvas dirty more quickly. Because of the soap residue, impregnation also adheres less well to your tent cloth.
Waterproof tent seams, impregnation and maintenance go hand in hand. Every material wears, including the stitching of your tent. By impregnating regularly, you prevent the tent seams from leaking. The impregnating agent fills in any holes. If you have a synthetic material tent, you can use seam tape. Never work with seam compactors and green soap.