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How to Seam Seal a Tent

Seam Sealing tent

Seam Sealing

Seam sealing tarps and shelters terrifies many people. Honestly it’s the easiest thing you can do.

A few ground rules:

  • Seal the outside. That’s where the rain will fall and you need to seal the stitching there to repeal water ingress.
  • Make sure its not too hot 6of/15c is ideal temperature to seal up your shelter, and not in high humidity (below 80%)
  • Make sure the shelter is pitched tight and defect free before you start to seal it.

Now to seal that shelter:

You will need:

  1. A brush
  2.  Cup/tin or something to mix up in
  3.  A bit of card, or a steady hand
  4.  Damp cloth
  5.  Mcnett Silnet for Silnylon, or if PU coated material Seam Grip
  6.  White spirit/paint thinner

Start with mixing at 3 to 1 paint thinner in a tin with Silnet till it is a workable viscous paste. This will make sure it’s easily applied and rubbed into the seams. The whole point is to get it to soaking into the stitching where the water could penetrate.

Brush in the thinned mix carefully and use the damp cloth to mop up any spills. I used a cut out template to help reduce spills. Rub your finger over it to help push it into the seams and then leave to cure, working a 3 to 4 inch area in one go. As the Silnet it is thinned it will soak in and look neat after it dries. Check after an hour or so to spot missed areas.

On high stress areas like the tieouts; add neat dabs of Silnet to reinforce those area. Then allow 24 hours to dry. Pack away, and next trip sleep well, not worrying about water ingress into your shelter.

This tip was contributed by Trail Ambassador Martin Rye


6 Responses to How to Seam Seal a Tent

  1. Doug July 18, 2014 at 11:42 am #

    “White spirit/paint thinner” – I use generic/Coleman white gas, that I use with my liquid-fuel stoves.

    • Editor July 21, 2014 at 5:12 am #

      I’ve tried white gas and had poor results with it – it turns the seam sealer a milky white. Paint thinner is the way to go because it provides a clear transparent seal.

  2. Len July 18, 2014 at 6:29 pm #

    I also use silicone thinned with mineral turpentine to do the same thing. Takes a bit of mixing initially, I find it works best when the mixture is very liquid and will wick into the sewn fabric join. Great idea using a masking card.

    I’m not sure about the use of petroleum based thinners as they could damage the integrity of the fabric and thread as they are mostly petroleum based also. But maybe it is irrelevant due to the stabilizers used.

  3. Martin Rye July 19, 2014 at 3:05 pm #

    Mineral spirits(paint thinner) is the way to go. The masking card and a wet cloth to mop up any runs that the card missed is ideal to ensure a neat finish. I could not comment on using white gas. As I have never used it.

  4. jwmilstein July 19, 2014 at 8:30 pm #

    Mineral turpentine and mineral spirits are two names for what should be the same thing.

  5. Colin Parkinson August 2, 2014 at 2:29 pm #

    Don’t forget to sprinkle some corn starch on the seam after they dry as it will stop the seams from sticking together. Even dry silicone seam sealer is tacky.

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