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How to Waterproof Fabric for Outdoor Use

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Written by Viktoria Carella   

When the weather is gorgeous outside, no one wants to stay inside. Most people spend their leisure time outdoors so that they can enjoy nature and all of its benefits. Some people enjoy camping in a tent, others like to sit in the shade of a table umbrella with a cool drink, and still others want to sit by the pool on cushioned chairs. As much as people love the rustic aspect of the great outdoors, waterproof fabric seems to be an important component to full enjoyment of nature. Whether you need a tent, an umbrella, or chair cushions, waterproof fabric that won’t succumb to inevitable mold and mildew is absolutely essential. Long ago, mixing paraffin and turpentine was the typical way to waterproof fabric. Today, plenty of inexpensive and easy to apply products exist at your local hardware store so that waterproof fabric will make your experience in the outdoors mildew and mold free.

Items needed to waterproof fabric:

Aerosol cans of waterproofing product, such as Nikwax or Vectra (see manufacturer’s instructions to determine the amount needed for the fabric you are treating)

Well-ventilated area

Protective safety gloves

Safety goggles

Fabric for waterproofing

To waterproof fabric for outdoor use:

Step #1:

Prepare well-ventilated area for application of chemical.

Step #2:

Read manufacturer’s instructions for warnings and make any necessary adjustments to area where waterproofing product will be applied.

Step #3:

Lay fabric so that is it completely flat.

Step #4:

Put on goggles and gloves.

Step #5:

Spray waterproofing product so that the entire piece of fabric is covered.

Step #6:

Let fabric dry.

Step #7:

Cover fabric again with product.

Step #8:

Let waterproof fabric dry.

Step #9:

Turn fabric over to other side and repeat process.

Here are some tips if you want to waterproof fabric for outdoor use:

Many people like to use Thompson’s Water Seal to waterproof fabric. Thompson’s Water Seal is intended for use on wood and could harm the fabric. The manufacturer of Thompson’s Water Seal does not recommend using it to waterproof fabric.

If you are already have some waterproof fabric items, make sure to avoid washing them in the washing machine, as doing so can remove the waterproofing from the fabric.

If you are trying to save money and still need to waterproof fabric, you can try to cover the surface of the fabric with wax. While this is not ideal for cushions or tents, it is a less expensive alternative for creating a waterproof fabric umbrella.

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