Published Jul 21, 2022 3:00 PM
Have a leaky tent? Even if you’ve gone through re-waterproofing your tent, water can still leak through the seams if they’re not correctly sealed. Investing in a product with reinforced seams or at least ones that are fully sealed should ensure it is waterproof.
Still, even the best tents need a new waterproof coating or have seams leak with more time and use in the field. If you’ve reached the point where you think the tent needs waterproofing, it’s also a good habit to be in to check the seams. The seams of a tent tend to be a somewhat weaker point and are prone to leaking.
How the tent seam is sealed depends on the company and individual product. They may be covered with tape and glue, while others use a sealant to keep moisture out. Either way, an adhesive or solvent is used and can wear off with time.
Stay warm and dry no matter the weather conditions with a properly maintained tent. Keep reading to learn how to reinforce and seal tent seams.
How to Seal Tent Seams
Although there are different types of tent seals or seam waterproofing, the best overall option is to use Gear AID Seam Grip. There are other similar options on the market, but Seam Grip arguably works the best and is the most versatile regardless of the original factory seal on the tent seam.
What’s even better about it is that it works on other seals beyond tents, such as tarps, awnings, and even pop-up camper canvas. It is important to note that there are different kinds of Seam Grip, and it is important to choose the appropriate kind for the materials you are sealing.
If you are unsure of the type of sealant that is right for your tent, check the manufacturer’s website and repair instructions. The most significant difference is between silicone-treated fabrics versus polyurethane-treated fabrics. Tents that utilize water-based coatings or sealants should not leak or wear the same as solvent-based treatments.
First, gather your materials:
- Cold water
- Sponge or cloth
- Mild soap, cleaner, or rubbing alcohol
- Sealant of choice
Steps for sealing tent seams:
- Find a clean and open area to work on the tent. A well-lit area allows you to check over all tent seams closely.
- If you’re sealing the rainfly, lay it down with the underside facing up. If you seal the tent body, you’ll seal the inner side of the tent.
- Clean and prepare the seams. Get your bowl of cold water and your rag or sponge. You can either mix mild soap or a small amount of Revivex Pro Cleaner with the water to clean the seams or wipe the seams with just water. If you wipe it with water and no soap, go over the seams with rubbing alcohol.
- You don’t need to clean all the seams, but clean the seam areas you plan to seal.
- Follow the instructions on the Seam Grip sealant that is appropriate for your tent materials. For most of these, apply a thin film to the seams with the brush included.
- Let the sealant cure for the time listed on the packaging (anywhere from 2-12 hours, depending on the type of sealant).
Even if only one part of a seam is failing, applying a sealant to that entire seam is wise. While it may not be leaking yet, if one part is already leaking, the rest of the seam is likely already compromised.
Once the sealant is fully dry, the seams may still stick together. Gear AID recommends applying baby powder to the seam once it is dry to prevent sticking when the tent is folded and stored.
Which Seam Sealer Should I Choose?
The type of Seam Grip you choose is dependent on the coating of the tent materials. There are three types of Seam Grip:
- Seam Grip WP: bonds with rubber, vinyl (PVC), nylon, polyester, canvas, leather, and waterproof laminates. Intended for long-term seals and is not compromised by heat or solvents. (cures in 8-10 hours)
- Seam Grip FC: a water-based seam sealer that works well with all tents and tarps but can be broken down by solvents. (cures in 2 hours)
- Seam Grip SIL: a silicone-based seam sealer for silnylon fabrics or silicone-coated materials.
Each type of Seam Grip has an intended purpose, but if you are unsure about the coating on your tent, contact the manufacturer directly. Gear AID states that some tents may be silicone-treated, but that treatment is only on the outside of the tent, while the inside seams are treated with polyurethane.
Q: Do I need to seam seal my tent?
You should seal tent seams if they leak. When buying a new tent, the seams should be waterproof, but the seal may wear over time and with use. Check seams at the start of the season or before using a tent that has been in storage.
Q: Do you put seam sealer on the inside or outside of the tent?
Seam sealer is applied to the inside of the seam. So, if you are applying it to a rainfly, apply it to the underside. If you are applying it to the tent body, apply it to the inside of the tent.
Q: What is the best tent seam sealer?
We recommend using the Gear AID Seam Grip. There are a few types of Seam Grip, and choosing the correct type for the tent material is essential.
Q: How do I stop my tent from leaking?
There are many reasons a tent may be leaking. If it is an older tent or one used for several seasons, it may need to be re-waterproofed and have the seams sealed. If the tent is new and leaking, make sure it is set up correctly, and no gear is touching the sides or corners of the tent.
Q: What is the difference between Seam Grip and Aquaseal?
Seam Grip is designed and formulated for waterproofing. It is intended to be long-lasting and flexible, making it ideal for projects like sealing tent seams. Aquaseal SR is a urethane-based adhesive designed for projects such as shoe repair, as it shouldn’t be easily broken down with solvents. Aquaseal NEO works well for field repairs on materials like neoprene or gaskets. It has a quick curing time and can be broken down by solvents.