Are Instant Canopy Tents Waterproof?

  • By: Ian Dale
  • Date: March 1, 2022
  • Time to read: 6 min.

An outdoor canopy tent is an amazing invention! It is made up of lightweight materials that can provide comfort no matter where you go. Whether you want to set it up in your backyard for a BBQ, take it out tailgating, set up a booth at the local flea market, or even spend a day at the beach- there’s definitely something that will meet your needs.

These days, you’ll find that purchasing a pop-up canopy is more affordable than ever before and with improvements in both material and design, it’s a much more viable option for outdoor events. it’s not always a good idea to grab the first one you see though. You need to do some research and serious consideration.

If you are wondering if outdoor canopy tents are waterproof, the answer is “it depends.” Some of them are, some of them are not. You must take the time to do your research and examine the specs of a particular tent before you purchase it.

In this article, we’ll discover the difference between a great outdoor canopy tent and a mediocre one. We will help you understand how to choose the best one and things that you should consider before making your purchase.

Choosing the Best Outdoor Canopy for Your Needs

When you are shopping for an outdoor canopy, there are several things that you need to consider. These are: canopy material, frame material, seam sealing, waterproofness, and size.

We’re going to take a look at each of these below. This should help you make your decision when it comes to purchasing your outdoor canopy. At the very least, it will help you prepare to make a decision, if you haven’t already started looking.

Canopy Material

The first thing you should consider is the material that the canopy is made out of. This might seem a little crazy- but truthfully, it’s one of the most critical factors when choosing a canopy tent. Some of the modern fabrics can be susceptible to things like water leaks and sun damage.

Therefore, if you want to avoid yourself, your guests, and your belongings from getting soaked in the rain, you’ll want to make sure you choose the best canopy material possible.

Most of the time, canopies are made of nylon or polyester, as these two fabrics are quite common for outdoor use. However, both of them are highly likely to be damaged by the UV rays from the sun.

When possible, try to find a canopy that is made from UV resistant fabric or fabrics coated with UV resistant chemicals. Canopies that are UV damaged will become gray and fragile. Eventually, they will tear and fall apart during storage or in light winds.

In order to ensure waterproofness (which will be explored below), you want to get a nylon canopy. This is because nylon is quite waterproof and can be made more waterproof with coating or special weaving.

Typically, waterproof coating looks like a thin, plastic film on the inside of the fabric. If the canopy feels soft and untreated on both sides, chances are there is no waterproofing on it.

There are some less common materials that can be used for canopies. These are plastic variants and are waterproof without needing any additional processes. They can be a variety of different materials and range from cheap to high-quality.

Waterproofness

As mentioned above, waterproofness is an important factor when it comes to your outdoor canopy tent. If you have a waterproof canopy, it is possible to maintain the waterproofness by “washing in” the durable water repellant finish, or DWR.

You’ll want to use a front load washing machine, as a top load washer could cause damage to your canopy fabric or the waterproofing treatment. Another option is a spray-on waterproofing coating. Simply put up the canopy on a warm, sunny day and spray on the coating. You must make sure that you allow the coating the time required to dry before you store it away or you’ll end up ruining it.

If you are considering trying to save money and getting a canopy that is not waterproof and adding the coating yourself, you’re wasting your time and money. This method is not nearly as effective.

Sealed Seams

You will find that there are some canopies that are advertised as “waterproof” but the seams are not sealed. In these cases, the fabric itself is technically waterproof, but the seams have not been reinforced with waterproof tape. This is done by manufacturers in an effort to save money on their lower end canopies. In the end, they’ve only produced a junky product.

This isn’t a major problem though, as you can seal the seams of your canopy on your own using a silicone seam sealer. Simply put up your canopy and carefully apply the sealer to the seams. Just like the durable water repellant, you must ensure that you give it time to dry before you store it.

If you fold your canopy while the silicone sealer is still wet, it won’t just ruin the seam sealing- it can also permanently glue the canopy together.

A quality outdoor canopy will come from the factory already seam sealed. However, you must be careful, as many times, the seam tape will begin to come loose and fall off after many years of use. If this does happen, you can simply re-seal the seams by using the above method.

Canopy Size

Choosing the appropriate size for your outdoor canopy doesn’t have to be a difficult decision. You simply must choose the one that provides you with adequate space for your needs. Of course, there are a few things that you must keep in mind when making this decision.

For most flea markets and outdoor festivals, the standard size is 10’ x 10’. Typically, these events have spaces that are pre-marked for this size tent. If you choose a 12’ or larger, the event coordinators may charge you for a larger space or you could potentially be in the way, encroaching on someone else’s space. If you need additional space, you should consider using two 10’ by 10’ spaces and rent two spaces side-by-side.

As a general rule, bigger is better. However, you must also keep in mind that the bigger the canopy is, the heavier and bulkier it will be. This means it will be more difficult to store and transport.

Additionally, be aware that a larger pop-up canopy is likely to catch more wind and is harder to tie down during inclement weather. Be sure that you have an appropriate number of stakes and rope for days like that.

Frame Material

The canopy is just one part of an outdoor canopy tent. The frame is also an important part of this structure. In most cases, these are made from aluminum tubes. These tubes are usually held together with aluminum rivets and plastic caps- but there may be some exceptions to this rule.

Typically, plastic components are going to be the weakest part of an outdoor canopy tent- but there’s’ really not much you can do to rectify this. These are used because they’re cheap and easy to produce and make the canopy easy to transport. The only thing you can do is avoid stressing these pieces with lateral force.

In some cases, you’ll find an outdoor canopy tent that has a steel frame. Keep in mind that these are usually a lot heavier than their aluminum ones and are typically only used when there are heavy forces at play.

If you are setting up an outdoor canopy tent and know that there will be snow or storms, you may opt for a steel canopy. Just keep in mind that this additional weight makes them more of a burden to carry.

For most situations, an aluminum frame should be enough. Just make sure that you’re careful and don’t abuse it. Don’t hang things from it or stress it with heavy loads or you may end up with a broken outdoor canopy tent frame in no time at all.

Conclusion

In most cases, outdoor canopy tents are waterproof. However, you may find some that are not. If this is the case, you can waterproof it yourself- but you must keep in mind that this treatment won’t be nearly as effective as it would be if it came from the factory this way.

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