Is Canvas Fabric Waterproof? Waterproof Your Canvas

Is Canvas Fabric Waterproof? Waterproof Your Canvas

We will discuss the canvas’s ability to repel water in more detail in this article. Additionally, you’ll discover how to waterproof canvas using simple steps.

A flexible material is a canvas. Canvas can be used for many things, including clothing, paintings, and home décor. Camping tents and bags are both made of sturdy canvas materials. Because of its tight weave, it is a very durable fabric in any condition. But is canvas waterproof?

Normal canvas is water-resistant, which means it offers decent water protection but is not entirely waterproof. The fabric may allow water to seep through, which would encourage the growth of mold. However, you can get a waterproof canvas or coat the canvas to make it waterproof.

Let’s talk about what to expect with canvas and water in more detail in this article.

Is Canvas Fabric Waterproof?

Canvas is a sturdy and long-lasting fabric. The fabric can block moisture in addition to UV rays. You probably already know that cotton, linen, and hemp are the main ingredients used to make canvas fabric. These materials are all water-resistant.

In addition to the material, the way the canvas is woven also has an impact on how water-resistant it is. Here is How to Care for Canvas Fabric.

However, raw material-only canvases aren’t hydrophobic enough to be totally waterproof. Regardless of how sturdy the fabric is, water can still seep into it. Mildew may develop if water becomes trapped in the fabrics.

Is Canvas Fabric Waterproof? Waterproof Your Canvas

The canvas can be made waterproof, though, if a waterproof coating is applied to it or if other synthetic materials are added to the raw material.

The higher water resistance of cotton makes it more popular than other materials for weaving canvas today. It has a built-in ability to hold out water. It is not completely waterproof, though, without a proper coating.

The fibrous, coarse parts of hemp, cotton, and linen plants are used to make canvas yarns by manufacturers. Thick and enduring fibers are used. The canvas fabric is then made by tightly knitting together threads of yarn.

Manufacturers frequently add a layer of PVC to the exterior of the canvas used in commercial and industrial settings. Fabric is stretched on a wooden frame for medium canvas painting before gesso is applied.

Cotton canvas expands and seals the tightly knit canvas when it comes into contact with water. It stops water from penetrating the fabric. Water will eventually seep through the canvas, but it has a limit.

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Hemp, linen, and cotton are all materials that are resistant to water. A breathable material, linen resists moisture. Hemp is resilient and can continue to be unaffected even after being exposed to a lot of moisture. To improve the materials’ ability to withstand water, you can coat them with a waterproof coating.

You can also purchase waterproof canvas. It is made of better water-resistant material or is coated with a waterproof coating. Canvas that combines cotton and synthetic materials is very waterproof.

It is because manufacturers use hygroscopic synthetic materials, such as polyester and rayon, to interweave with cotton, hemp, or linen. Canvas as a result absorbs less water.

Is Cotton Canvas Waterproof?

Untreated cotton canvas workwear cannot be expected to be completely waterproof, despite the fact that cotton canvas will naturally repel water.

Is Canvas Fabric Waterproof? Waterproof Your Canvas

A tight, long-lasting weave is the canvas weave. When this tightly woven cotton fabric is wet, the cotton swells and seals the weave, helping to keep moisture from penetrating your skin.

So yes, a canvas weave naturally keeps moisture from penetrating to your skin. The issue is that, despite keeping moisture out, no one wants to wear a sopping-wet work jacket. Yes, the weave may aid in preventing moisture from penetrating your skin, but cotton will still absorb moisture, resulting in the garment becoming wet and heavy in itself.

To stop the canvas from absorbing water, there are two main solutions that are frequently used.

  1. The fabric is given a wax or DWR water-resistant finish. (See How to Wax Canvas Fabric?)
  2. To help repel moisture, a fabric blend is utilized.

How to Make Canvas Waterproof?

If your canvas fabric gear, clothing, and accessories occasionally come into contact with water or moisture, waterproofing is required. It’s possible that your canvas lacks a waterproof coating or that the coating layer on your old canvas has worn off. You must apply a waterproof coating in both situations.

Moisture will not be able to adhere to the fabric thanks to the coating on the surface. Mold growth may result from moisture that gets trapped in canvas fabric. The material might become brittle as a result. Consequently, the coating makes the canvas durable.

You can waterproof your canvas in a few different ways. Sprays with fluoropolymer formula or simple waxing are the two most popular techniques. Waxing might be inexpensive, but applying it to canvas fabric takes more time. However, the spraying technique is much simpler and quicker.

How to Fully Waterproof Canvas Fabric?

Your tent, clothing, bags, shoes, and any other item made of canvas fabric may benefit from waterproofing. Here is how you can waterproof a material made of canvas fabric:

Is Canvas Fabric Waterproof? Waterproof Your Canvas
  • Take the object you want to waterproof and give it a thorough cleaning first. If it can be washed, dry it thoroughly afterward. You can also use a lint roller to get rid of the surface dirt from the item if you don’t need to clean the canvas with water. The canvas material can also be vacuumed.
  • Select a well-ventilated area before applying the fluoropolymer or any other waterproofing technique to the canvas. Toxic fumes may be produced by waterproofing agents. Cover the surrounding furniture and the floor as well to prevent solutions from landing there.
  • Pick a fluoropolymer spray that is of superior quality now. Use a uniform application to your intended product. After that, allow your item to dry completely.
  • Hang it somewhere and use a bucket of water to see if the waterproofing was effective. It’s not okay to absorb the water. Instead, it ought to bead off the canvas’s surface.
  • If it doesn’t work, you must dry the item before applying the waterproofing solution once more. On a canvas fabric, do not apply waterproofing coats before allowing them to dry completely.

Before selecting a waterproofing solution, there are a few other factors to take into account. Learn about the type of canvas you have. Avoid coating with silicone-based materials if the canvas is made of acrylic fiber.

The acrylic fiber is destroyed by silicon’s characteristics. The canvas will consequently be more vulnerable to moisture and mildew. So, before you begin the waterproofing process, check the characteristics of the canvas type and waterproof coating.

In addition to spray solutions, you can waterproof your canvas item with petroleum-based sealant. High-quality petroleum-based coatings are widely available on the market. Spread the canvas out and use a brush to paint the coating into every crevice. For a while, let the canvas dry.

After that, test the canvas’ water resistance by sprinkling some water on it. Water shouldn’t be allowed to soak into the canvas; it should instead drain off.

Canvas Alternatives That Are Water-Resistant

You might be looking for a solution if you wanted to use canvas material but just learned that it is not water-resistant. These high-performance waterproof fabrics may be suitable for your needs.

Is Canvas Fabric Waterproof? Waterproof Your Canvas


Wool was one of the first materials used by humans, and for good reason. The high water and stain resistance of wool is well known. Although using wool in your projects may seem antiquated, if it is properly prepared, wool can be just as advanced as contemporary synthetics.

Since wool is renowned for being highly absorbent, using it might initially seem counterintuitive. This is untrue, though, as wool fibers are incredibly resilient and can withstand almost 20% of their weight before becoming completely saturated. There are also items made of a wool and cotton blend that might suit your needs.

ELS Cotton Fabric

Extra-long staple cotton is completely different from regular cotton (in terms of the fabric it produces). You might have heard this referred to as sea island cotton because it was initially difficult to grow on the American mainland. It is also referred to as Ventile.

It is a specialty crop that is known for various properties:

  • Being woven into the very dense cotton fabric, making it less susceptible to soaking through with water
  • Its dense weave allows it to stretch in extremely harsh weather
  • Expanding when wet, like regular cotton

It is a fantastic choice as an alternative to cotton canvas because of its various qualities.


Stretched Teflon is used to make Gore-Tex, which is extremely durable. It is utilized in medical replacements due to its strength and resistance to liquids. Due to its water resistance and breathability, it is also utilized in camping equipment.

Being made of Gore-Tex enables a product to dry quickly and breathe. Work clothing, including jackets and boots, frequently uses Gore-Tex.

Conclusion: is Canvas Fabric Waterproof?

So, is canvas waterproof? Although regular canvas fabric is not completely waterproof, it has good water resistance. A fabric is treated to be water-repellent so that water will bead on its surface and evaporate back into the air as opposed to soaking into the fibers and making the fabric heavy and wet.

Waterproof synthetic and acrylic materials do exist, though. To make your canvas items waterproof, you can also apply coats.


What Type of Canvas is Waterproof?

While duck canvas is made with 100% cotton fibers and is relatively absorbent, waterproof canvas is manufactured using 100% polyester fibers, a PVC backing, and waterproof coatings.

What Happens If Canvas Material Gets Wet?

In the same way that traditional wooden boats are waterproof, traditional cotton canvas is as well. The cotton fibers — like the wooden planks — swell when they get wet. Although cotton canvas seals the weave, it is no longer frequently used on pleasure boats because it loves mildew and despises bird droppings.

Can Canvas Get Wet from Rain?

Canvas is a durable material and is naturally slightly waterproof. Your canvas shouldn’t get too wet during a mist or light rain because otherwise, the water might not soak through at all.

How Long Does Canvas Stay Waterproof?

No, the canvas is not naturally waterproof. However, you can waterproof your canvas tent by applying a coating or sealant. Make sure to reapply the waterproofing every few months or whenever you notice that the fabric is beginning to look wet.

How Do You Waterproof Canvas Clothes?

To waterproof natural fabric like cotton, denim, or canvas, give it a thorough rubdown with a bar of Otter Wax. We suggest denim shirts, work jackets, and vintage canvas weekenders because the wax won’t leave any residue but will stiffen and darken the fabric to give it a rugged appearance.

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