How do you waterproof a camper canvas trailer?

​In today’s blog post, we will discuss: How do you waterproof a camper canvas trailer? We will also explain how important it is to waterproof the seams of a camper canvas trailer and what not to do when it comes to waterproofing a camper. 

How do you waterproof a camper canvas trailer?

If you want to waterproof a camper canvas trailer here are a few products that you can use:

  • The waterproofing of camper canvas is achieved thanks to some type of waterproof spray that acts on them and protects them. But this is a very strong chemical product, which is recommended to be used under indications and with some protection.
  • There is also the possibility of applying some wax that allows you to waterproof your fabrics. Like the previous remedy, keep in mind that it is a strong product and you will have to take the appropriate measures.
  • You can also prepare a homemade mixture, using protection and very carefully, if you mix detergent in hot water and dissolve it well. Next, wet the canvas until it is saturated and set it to dry. Then put it in a mixture of hot water and alum. Let it sit for a few hours to take effect, then set it to dry.
  • Canvas fabrics that are usually used for outdoor places can be waterproofed with a good aluminum soap, which will help the fabric not suffer from the cold and rain.
  • A resin and linseed cream will help to obtain a mixture of waterproof fabrics and to be able to preserve them for a long time.

After choosing the type of product you want to use, let’s jump right into the steps on how to waterproof a camper canvas trailer.

Step 1 to waterproof a camper canvas trailer: Sealing the seams 

If you apply seam sealer to your camper canvas trailer, it will help keep moisture from seeping through the canvas inside the camper. Many camper seams have been sealed before, but the sealant can wear out within a few years of use. That scenario is sure to let the water flow out of your shelter.

If you notice your camper canvas leaking here’s what you need to do:

  1. Choose a good seam sealant: There are many types of seam sealants available on the market. You need to be sure to select the right type for your equipment. Polyurethane-coated fabrics are generally used due to their durability, but you still need to check the label to get the right sealant.
  1. Set up your camper in a place where it is bright or has enough sunlight. It is essential to be able to examine and see the seams all around the canvas.
  1. Then, seal the seams that are on the underside of the zipper and the inside of your shelter. Put the flap on the inverted shape to be comfortable to access the seams.
  1. If you notice duct tape starting to peel off, you need to gently remove the peeling part but be sure to leave the entire sections in place.
  1. Prepare the seams by rubbing alcohol and wiping them with a rag. Then, apply the new sealant to the seams of your canvas. If you see that one seam is not working, you need to put a new seam sealer all over the canvas because sooner or later the others are very likely to fail as well.
  1. Leave the sealer on until it dries, then your canvas is ready.

Step 2 to waterproof a camper canvas trailer: Refresh the urethane liner

Urethane liners are located inside the canvas area. They are the main barriers to humidity. If you see some leaks on your zipper, then this is the sign that you need to reapply a new urethane coating.

These are what you need for reapplication:

  • Sponge with an abrasive side
  • Denatured alcohol
  • Canvas sealant: silicone-treated fabric needs a different sealant; that’s why you need to look at the construction of your camper canvas before purchasing the adhesive.

Stages of application of the urethane coating:

  1. First, prepare the zipper and the canvas of your camper. Place it on the ground. The leaks should be removed with a sponge and denatured alcohol.
  2. Apply only a thin layer to the entire camper canvas, which is in the directions indicated on the sealant bottle.
  3. Let the coating dry for the next 24 hours.
  4. Wash your hands thoroughly after applying the sealant to be safe from flammable chemicals.

Step 3 to waterproof a camper canvas trailer:  Refreshing the DWR

DWR stands for durable water repellent. This is responsible for the waterproofing of your camper canvas trailer. You must do this if you notice that rain is filtering into your camper.

These are the things you need:

  • Water repellent spray
  • A clean, damp cloth

Application of the waterproof spray:

  1. Wash the canvas with water and make sure it is clean. Lift it up for easy access when you apply the spray. You don’t have to wait for your canvas to dry before applying.
  2. The next thing you need to do is apply the waterproof spray evenly all over the camper canvas.
  3. Wait a couple of minutes, then use the damp cloth to wipe off the excess coating.
  4. Finally, let the canvas dry before putting it away for your next camping trip.

What not to do when waterproofing a camper canvas trailer

Sometimes you will see some advice that will seem strange to you and you must trust your instinct. Here are some things you definitely shouldn’t do to waterproof your camper canvas:

  • Do not add fat or lard to the zipper! Yes, if you just look at it, it will keep the water out of your canvas, but it will also remove all the waterproof coating. Also, it smells really uncomfortable, it will attract different kinds of insects and rodents, and a greasy carp is very difficult to work with.
  • Do not use masking tape! It won’t help that much, although it could do some serious damage to your canvas walls once you decide it’s time to remove it. Remember, camper canvas is mostly made of really soft and sophisticated materials, and duct tape could ruin them.
  • Don’t use candle wax! Okay, the story goes like this: you lit a candle, let the wax droplets fall on the hole and it should seal it. Yes, it works in theory, but in reality, you will most likely end up burning down your camper (worst case scenario), or you will just ruin it by melting the plastics inside your camper.

Final thoughts

Most campers are waterproof when they are new. But in time, with each use, the canvas becomes less and less impermeable. Regular checks and maintenance of the camper canvas can prevent huge issues such as water leaks, mould and mildew formation, and essentially a damaged and torn camper canvas. 

Regular inspection of the seals, at least twice a year, will allow you to minimize the risk of infiltration. If you find that the gaskets are crumbling or peeling, it is time to replace them.

Please feel free to get in contact if you have any questions or comments on the content!

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FAQ on How do you waterproof a camper canvas trailer?

Do you get wet in a tent trailer?

Yes, you can get wet in a tent trailer, as they are not completely waterproof. Particularly with long use and bad maintenance, your tent trailer can leak especially during rainy days! 

How to stay dry in a tent trailer?

Don’t let the rain and water leaks stop you from camping in a tent trailer. 

With the right equipment and a little knowledge, it’s easy to turn camping in the rain into a good time. 

Are pop-up gizmos waterproof?

Yes, pop-up gizmos are waterproof and they protect your camper from moisture, rain, snow and ice (if you like camping in the mountains in winter).

Do pop up campers leak when it rains?

Yes, pop-up campers may leak when it rains. Why? First, because they are not waterproof. Second, because your camper canvas is probably torn or seriously damaged. You must always check your camper before every trip for holes in the canvas or the roof, as they are mainly responsible for water leaks. 

Can you stay dry in a pop-up camper?

Yes, you can stay dry in a pop-up camper. There are many techniques to protect yourself from rain during camping. For example, you can use plastic bags to protect your bag from moisture or to wrap anything that is already wet to prevent everything else from getting wet as well. 

Are pop-up campers waterproof?

Most pop-up campers are waterproof when they are new. But in time, with each use, the canvas becomes less and less impermeable.  


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