How to Waterproof Canvas Fabric? 5 Easy Methods

How to Waterproof Canvas Fabric? 6 Easy Methods

We’ve got you covered with six methods for making your canvas item more water-resistant in no time.

You don’t want rain or moisture seeping through the fabric of your canvas shoes, jackets, boat equipment, or outdoor awnings! Mildew can develop later if moisture accumulates in the material. What is the best way to waterproof canvas?

The best way to waterproof canvas is to use a silicone or petroleum sealant to waterproof the material for up to two to three years. All-natural waterproofing methods include applying beeswax or linseed oil to the fabric.

You can quickly get those water droplets to roll off your favorite fabrics by simply using the techniques listed below. Learn How to Print on Canvas Fabric?

How to Waterproof Canvas Fabric?

Inherently slightly waterproof, canvas is a tough material. Your canvas should only be lightly dampened during a mist or light rain; otherwise, the water may not penetrate at all.

However, during periods of intense rain, water will almost always soak through your canvas and dampen all of the objects it is intended to protect. This could even result in the growth of mildew. You’ll need to waterproof your canvas by yourself using one of these techniques to make sure it is water-resistant.



Wax offers an inexpensive, all-natural method for waterproofing canvas. Only a few high-end brands sell clothing or equipment that has been waxed to protect it today. Wax was used frequently for coats, shoes, and boating equipment a few decades ago when waterproofing was much more prevalent.

On canvas clothing, shoes, and outdoor equipment, a wax waterproofing coat can be applied. Wax can be used to effectively create a moisture barrier on many different types of fabric, including many different types of upholstery material.

  1. Beeswax pellets and paraffin wax are the first two types of wax you’ll need. These can be purchased online or in most craft stores’ candlemaking aisles.
  2. A double boiler is then required to melt the wax without burning it. You can purchase a double boiler, but you can also easily make one by stacking two saucepans on top of one another. The bottom pot should have one or two inches of water added before the top pot is placed on top.
  3. Heat the water so that the steam will get trapped between the two pots.
  4. In the top saucepan, add four ounces of beeswax pellets. Paraffin wax, four ounces, added. If the paraffin comes in a chunk, chop it into small pieces so that it will melt at the same rate as the beeswax pellets.
  5. The wax should be stirred until it melts into a smooth, thick soup.
  6. To warm the fabric on a small canvas item like a bag, pair of shoes, or jacket, dry it for ten minutes. If you’re going to treat a big item, like an awning, you can skip this step.
  7. Remove any fuzz or dust from the fabric as soon as possible using a lint roller or sticky roller. The wax coating may become hampered by this.
  8. Brush the melted wax onto the canvas’ surface using a small, inexpensive paintbrush. Don’t waste a good paintbrush—you’ll have to throw it away after this. )Learn How to Paint Canvas Fabric?)
  9. Worm in small strokes and cover a small section of the fabric at a time to make sure you carefully brush wax over every inch of the fabric. )See How to Care for Canvas Fabric?)
  10. Use a hairdryer to remelt the wax and allow it to soak into the fabric. Sweep the hairdryer back and forth across the canvas’s surface to accomplish this. As you do this, you’ll notice the wax melting once more.
  11. After allowing the material to completely cool, turn off the hairdryer. When you can safely touch the fabric, check the canvas all over to see if you missed any spots with the wax. If more paint is needed, you can go through the entire procedure again.
  12. Before using the waxed canvas in the rain, give it at least 24 hours to rest.

Linseed Oil

linseed Oil

Linseed oil offers another all-natural method for waterproofing canvas. For hundreds of years, wood and fabric have been protected by a coating of linseed oil, which is made from flax seeds. You can find linseed oil in many hardware or home improvement stores and online.

Instead of clothing, this technique performs best on canvas awnings, tents, and other outdoor equipment. Linseed oil is non-toxic but can cause bad allergic reactions.

  1. Cover a large work area such as a patio or garage floor with a tarp. On top of the tarp, position the canvas object as flatly as you can.
  2. Use a lint roller to get any dust or fuzz off its surface before you begin.
  3. While soaking a clean rag in linseed oil, protect your hands by donning rubber gloves.
  4. Cover every square inch of the canvas with the wet rag.
  5. Give the canvas 30 minutes to absorb the oil. After that, remove any additional oil by wiping it off with a clean, dry cloth.
  6. Let the oil coating rest for 24 hours.
  7. Apply the same procedure to the back of the canvas by turning it over next.



A water-resistant barrier is often created on the surface of the fabric by silicone in waterproofing sprays. As the coating wears off, you typically need to apply these treatments again once or twice a year.

A silicone coating should only be applied to canvas made entirely of cotton, which is another important thing to know. The synthetic fibers in a blended canvas containing polyester or acrylic will be harmed by the silicone.

Conversely, the least expensive way to waterproof canvas is unquestionably by using a silicone waterproofing spray!

  1. Set up your canvas item in an accessible way. Spread out flat items, like a jacket, on top of a tarp. As you work, erect a tent or other large object so that it covers the entire exterior surface.
  2. Sweep the spray bottle back and forth slowly while spraying, covering the entire fabric surface as you do so. Hold the spray bottle eight inches from the fabric’s surface. Make sure to carefully spray over fabric seams on items like tents.
  3. Wait two days for the initial coating to dry. Read More: Can You Iron Canvas Fabric to Remove Wrinkles?
  4. To ensure a strong DWR coating, apply a second coating in the same way.

Water-Repellent Sprays

Waterproofing Sprays

Many businesses sell water-repellent sprays that you can use on fabrics and other materials if you’d prefer to buy a commercial waterproofing product for your canvas.

Compared to DIY waterproofing techniques, this is a quicker and simpler process, but it frequently uses chemicals that are more harmful to the environment and have unpleasant odors. This method is also more expensive.

If you’re set on using a spray because of how simple it is, make sure to buy one without silicone since it may reduce how well the spray resists water.

  1. Before applying the spray, thoroughly clean your canvas with soap and water. This will guarantee that no other materials on the canvas will interact with the spray. Before continuing, let your canvas dry completely.
  2. It might be a good idea to cover any zippers or other hardware on your bag, backpack, tarp, or other canvas items with tape or aluminum foil so that the chemicals in the spray don’t corrode the metal. Optional, but recommended if you want to be safe, is this step.
  3. To check for damage or discoloration, test the spray on a small area of your canvas. Continue waterproofing if you’re fine with any alterations or coloration to your canvas.
  4. Follow the directions for your specific water-repellent spray in a location with good ventilation, preferably outside. This will often be to spray two coats of the repellent onto the canvas, the first in one direction and the second coat in the perpendicular direction. Before using, let the canvas completely dry by air to let the odors go away.
  5. Observe the cleaning instructions on the water-repellent spray when cleaning your canvas. This frequently entails hand-washing or using a delicate setting while using cold water to wash your canvas.

Alum Powder and Laundry Detergent Powder

Alum Powder

Utilizing alum powder and laundry detergent powder at home is another way to the waterproof canvas. This is a practical and affordable method as well because, if you don’t already have them, you can buy the necessary supplies at a grocery store or supermarket.

Wearing gloves, goggles, and other protective equipment is strongly advised because alum can be toxic.

  1. Combine 7.5 liters of hot water with all of the laundry detergent powder in one of the big buckets. Dunk your canvas into the mixture, making sure that your canvas is completely soaked. Before moving on to the next step, let your canvas air dry completely. Be patient; this process could take several hours or even several days.
  2. Once your canvas is dry, mix the alum powder with the remaining 7.5 liters of hot water in the other large bucket. Make sure to thoroughly and completely combine the powder and water. Drop your canvas into this mixture, making sure all of the canvas is completely submerged. Do not take the canvas off.
  3. Keep your canvas completely submerged in the alum mixture for two hours using the glass jars or bottles as weights.
  4. After two hours in the mixture, remove your canvas and allow it to air dry in a space with lots of ventilation and airflow.
  5. To keep your canvas water-resistant, repeat this method every year or so for the best results, just to maintain the efficacy of the water repellency. Wash your canvas in cold water, preferably by hand or on a delicate cycle.

Petroleum Sealant

Petroleum Sealant

Petroleum is a key component in a number of well-liked commercial fabric sealants. Beeswax, oil, and a few other ingredients can be used to create your own waterproofing recipe.

Good water-repelling coatings can be made from petroleum-based products. When you think about it, petroleum is the source of plastics and all types of polyester! Whenever you see the word “polymer” in a description, that means that the product has its roots in petroleum.

Modern “oilcloth” sold today typically contains a simple cotton fabric treated with a petroleum coating.

These petroleum-based polymer sealants come in a variety of forms from companies like Starbrite. You can buy liquid forms that need to be applied with a paintbrush or spray bottles that are great for small projects. You will typically need to allow at least 24 hours for drying time before using the treated canvas.

Things to Know When Waterproofing Canvas Fabric

Make sure you’re in a well-ventilated area while using any canvas waterproofing technique, and this is a hard and fast rule of thumb. There will be some fumes no matter what kind of waterproofing agents you use. If at all possible, do it outside. As an added incentive, some of the substances that are used for treating the canvas could damage your floors or the finish on wooden furniture.

Related: Is Canvas Fabric Eco-friendly?

Remember that there is no such thing as an indestructible waterproof coating for canvas. If you own the canvas item for a long enough period of time, you may need to repeat the treatment once more. You shouldn’t need to waterproof items more than once a year, though, under normal wear and tear conditions.

How to Waterproof Canvas Fabric? 5 Easy Methods

How to Maintain Waterproof Canvas?

No waterproofing treatment lasts forever, so you will need to learn how to maintain your waterproof canvas no matter how good a job you did the first time around! In general, commercial products like silicone sprays or petroleum-based treatments come with maintenance guidelines. The majority of commercial sprays need to be applied once a year.

Here are some tips to help you maintain your waterproofing:

  • Prior to reapplying the product of your choice, make sure the fabric’s surface has been thoroughly cleaned. Consider the case where you want to keep a boat cover or awning waterproof. Consider all the dust, dirt, and pollen that could have accumulated over the previous 12 months!
  • Apply the same product that you did previously. In some circumstances, combining products could harm the canvas.
  • Similar to how you do for your home’s air filters, if you have a calendar for your family, set an annual reminder for maintenance!

What Kind of Canvas is Waterproof?

Even without a waterproof coating or sealant, polyester or acrylic canvas fabric will offer a high level of water resistance. Unless you seal it with a sealant, cotton canvas, like Duck Canvas, won’t offer any water resistance.

Canvas comes in a variety of materials. Different levels of water resistance are offered by each material.

  • Polyester canvas, often called “waterproof canvas”, contains 100% polyester fibers in a dense weave. This cloth is made the same way as traditional cotton canvas but uses synthetic polyester fibers instead of absorbent cotton fibers. This results in a fabric that is very water resistant.
  • Duck canvas made from traditional cotton will soak water instead of repelling it. It offers very little water resistance, in other words. Having said that, this fabric’s tight weave will hold a lot of water before any moisture seeps through.
  • Acrylic canvas contains synthetic acrylic fibers. Due to its UV resistance and resistance to fading, this type of canvas is used in awnings and other outdoor structures. It has decent water resistance on its own but typically requires a waterproofing spray once a year.
  • Silicone canvas is not canvas at all. When used as a substitute for canvas for outdoor purposes or boat parts, it is more akin to plastic sheeting. Yes, this material has excellent waterproofing properties.
  • Ottertex is a brand-name waterproof canvas made out of 100% polyester. It has a PVC backing, a weave that is incredibly tight, and a waterproof coating on top of all that! This material makes excellent outdoor apparel and athletic wear.

Conclusion: Waterproof Canvas Fabric

For those wishing to waterproof their canvas products, the aforementioned techniques can be used as a guide. The amount of waterproofing spray that needs to be reapplied depends on how often the canvas product is used. Even if the canvas product has been subjected to harsh conditions, the treatment ought to remain effective for at least a year.

All of these techniques are effective at enhancing your canvas’s ability to resist water, but your canvas can never be completely waterproof. Additionally, water resistance can deteriorate over time, especially if you wash your canvas item frequently. Depending on how well the waterproofing holds up, you may need to repeat the process every year or so.


How Do You Protect Canvas Material?

Waterproofing sprays and seam sealers are one of the easiest ways to waterproof your canvas tote bag. To start, the canvas material won’t be stained. Next, fabric waterproofing spray is readily available in almost every retailer.

What is the Cheapest Way to Waterproof Canvas?

A petroleum-based sealant is also a good way to waterproof canvas. Apply the sealant with a paintbrush; there are several excellent varieties that can be used for this purpose. Spread the canvas out first. Test the product with a splash of water after letting it dry on the canvas.

How Long Does Silicone Waterproofing Last?

Silicone sealants can stay waterproof for around 20 years, but this varies according to different factors including temperature, the materials that are sealed’s chemical composition, and UV exposure.

Don't forget to share this post.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.