What is seam sealing a tent?
Tent seams are the points along the wall and floor where two pieces of the tent’s fabric are sewed together. These seams are prone to leaking during heavy rains and can be weak points in any tent’s design, allowing water to enter through the rainfly.
A tent seam sealer is a waterproof chemical product in the form of a glue-like sealant used to cover up the leaky seams of a tent. It works by absorbing water and repelling it from the tent fabric, creating a water-resistant barrier. The sealant is brushed onto the tent’s seam to ensure that it penetrates the stitching holes.
Do I have to seam seal a tent?
Most tent seams are either seam sealed or seam taped, which means that most manufacturing companies already waterproof the seams, so users don’t have to.
Although, there are instances when this is not always the case, and buyers would have to pay extra to have this procedure done.
Hodgkins (2020) stated that it is essential to seam seal a tent when these two conditions are met: First is when the tent was never sealed from the beginning. Some tents are not factory sealed, so this has to be manually done during unboxing.
Second, when the tent seam seal has worn out. Eventually, the tent will show signs of wear, and it will become old, which is why re-sealing it is important. Hence, if the tent leaks, the seam sealing is an option as this will create a waterproof barrier and help the tent last longer.
What happens if I don’t seam seal my tent?
Tent seam sealing is not always a standard procedure, and it depends on the manufacturing company. If the tent is used without sealing it first, they will act as wicks, allowing water to flow through inside the tent even if it is not raining.
Seam sealing is a relatively easy and quick procedure to do. Leaky seams that are not sealed will make any camping experience unfavorable, which is why it is recommended to ensure that the tent is well-maintained and seam-sealed to prevent water from entering the inside of the tent.
What are the benefits of seam sealing?
Sealing a tent’s seams when there is a need to does a lot for the tent. Not only will the sealer make these areas more waterproof, but it will also make them stronger, thus preventing degradation and maintaining the quality of the tent.
Apart from that, this benefits the tent and the people who will be living in it as it protects them from the consequences of having a leaky tent.
How can I seam seal my tent?
Before applying a seam sealant, it is best to determine first what the tent’s fabric is since different materials require different kinds of seam sealants. There are three main kinds of tent fabrics: Silicone-coated, polyurethane-coated, and Dyneema or Cubeen fiber fabrics.
Silicone-coated fabrics are mostly seen in ultralight tents and tarp tents. Because silicone is the only material that will stick to these fabrics, they must be sealed with a silicone-based sealant. It is advisable to do this when the weather is fine since this type of sealant can take up to 24 hours to dry.
Like the silicone ones, polyurethane-coated tents can only be sealed using a urethane-based sealant since silicone sealants will not work for this material.
Lastly, Dyneema fabrics do not necessarily need to be seam-sealed. However, for extra protection, this procedure can be done. It is advisable to use water-based sealants for Cuben fiber or Dyneema fabrics.
Once a suitable sealant has been determined, the first thing to do before applying it is pitch the tent in a dry, sunny place to have a clear visual of the tent’s seams.
Next is to prepare the seams and clean them using isopropyl alcohol to remove excess dirt or grime. Once the alcohol has dried, the sealant can then be applied using a soft, tiny brush.
Some people prefer to use a syringe because it gives them more control over the amount of sealant applied.
Regardless of the material used, it is important to apply only a thin layer coating and ensure that the sealant covers every inch of the seam. Most silicone-coated tents are seam-sealed from the outside.
However, some experts recommend applying the sealant from the inside to make the tent look neat.
After the application, the tent should be left to dry for 12 to 24 hours. If the sealant is still sticky after 24 hours, applying talcum powder over the seams might help.
What is the difference between seam sealing and seam taping?
Seam sealing and taping are both used to protect the tent’s seams, but there are differences between the two. From the term “tape,” seam taping is technically applying a layer of tape made from polyurethane films under the seams to keep any water from getting inside the tent.
Thin tent fabrics make it difficult for seam tapes to stick to, and they can flake off or break down over time, especially when exposed to heat, moisture, and humidity.
However, seam taping is an ideal solution for heavier-weight tent materials. Because the tape sticks well to these types of fabrics, it provides long-term protection.
On the other hand, the seam sealing is like painting a glue-like sealant over the tent’s seams. As the tent ages, leaks become apparent, and this is where seam sealing is mostly done.
But if the tent is still in good condition, the seam sealing is also a great option to keep it in good shape rather than purchasing a new one.
When applied, a waterproof barrier is created because the sealant penetrates the stitching holes. Seam sealants are more resistant to deterioration.