How to Waterproof a Boat Canvas

It’s easy to hitch a boat to a dock and forget that the top
of the boat needs to be waterproof as well. If you want to be ready for when it
rains, you should do more than just acquire a boat canvas. You’ll want to
ensure that this canvas is waterproof enough to protect the top of your boat
from the elements without letting issues like mildew linger. Here’s how to
waterproof a boat canvas.

Why Waterproof?

Waterproofing a boat canvas can feel like redundant work.
After all, if a boat canvas keeps water from the rest of the boat, it’s doing
its job, right? But a canvas can keep out the water naturally without doing a
great job.

Here’s the problem: some fabrics aren’t naturally waterproof
in the traditional sense. They might block out water, but they might absorb
plenty of water, too—leaving plenty of room for mildew and other problems.

Making sure that your boat canvas is waterproof will help you
block out issues like rain, while keeping the boat dry enough to reduce issues
with scent, mildew, and a host of other problems that creep up with poor water
management.

Different Boat Canvas
Fabrics

One common canvas fabric is cotton. Although cotton tends to
swell and seal up when exposed to enough water—helping block out much of the
water that’s causing the issue—there’s the obvious problem of lingering water
in the canvas itself. That’s why many boat canvases have now been replaced with
a woven acrylic or vinyl-coated polyester.

In the case of woven acrylic fabrics, the same principles
are at work as with cotton: the tight-weave fabric will indeed lock out water.
It’s also waterproof enough to stand up to stains and a host of other issues,
such as UV damage.

Tips for
Waterproofing Your Canvas

There are a few things you need to be aware before you start
waterproofing your canvas:

  • Don’t use
    a silicone-based treatment on acrylic canvas
    , as this will be largely
    incompatible with the treatment already on the canvas. Instead, look for a
    fluoropolymer-based treatment that’s also compatible with the original finish
    on the canvas itself. Generally speaking, petroleum-based treatments for
    acrylic will work better.
  • Clean the
    fabric first
    . Cleaning the fabric will ensure that you’re not treating a
    bunch of debris, but getting into the canvas and its treatment itself. This
    will give you a more thorough layer of protection that lasts longer. Use a
    proper cleaning solution with plenty of water, and let it dry thoroughly before
    you begin the treatment.

For the application of the boat canvas treatment, make sure
you follow the instructions on the label of your individual product. You should
be working with a healthy, dry bit of canvas. And make sure that the new
treatment dries completely before you put the canvas on the boat again.

Keep browsing BoatLIFE for more boat cleaning and
sealing products
to help ensure your boat is always in the best
condition possible.

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