Quick tip for tent seam sealing

My buddy Tom writes…

Just a quick tip for seam sealing a tent or any structure that’s made of nylon that’s been sewed together.

I bought a screen tent for my camping trip to Mammoth [California] this year — my old one finally gave up the ghost


We put it over the table in the campground and to keep out the sun/bugs/light rain.

The canopy over the top is a lightweight nylon tent material — did not come seam sealed.  As a reminder,  seam sealing is a waterproof tape or glue material that is put over the thread that holds together sewed panels.  The nylon material is pretty waterproof for most rain, but the water can seep into the little holes where the needle made holes for the thread.

I did a bunch of research trying to find the best seam sealer sold and discovered a bunch of references to making your own seam sealer mixture.  Turns out you can mix 100% silicone (clear bathtub caulking – has to be 100% silicone ) sealer with mineral spirits to make a mixture that can be painted on the seams.  You have to buy 100% silicone that says you clean it up with mineral spirits.

The idea is that you make a mixture that’s liquid enough to soak into the thread and seal the holes around them.  The mineral spirits carry the silicone into the gaps in the material and when it evaporates it leaves the silicone behind.

I tried a few different mixtures and experimented on some scraps of nylon that I had lying around.  At first it smelled and looked like it had no chance of drying properly.  But the next day, the smell was gone, the silicone left behind was dry and the area treated was completely waterproof.  I applied the mixture with a little 1/2 inch brush that I had lying around.  

Again, the idea is just to treat the seams on the tent rainfly or any other nylon cover that may be exposed to rain

So I treated the entire rainfly top that came with the screen tent.   I had a couple of days of heavy rain in Mammoth and no leaks.

I just know you guys all have tents, backpacks and gear that might need to be re-sealed or refreshed.  This method worked pretty good so I thought I’d pass on the tip.


Oh… and Mammoth was glorious


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