Wondering how to waterproof fabric? Whether you want to protect patio furniture cushions, an outdoor pillow, a rope swing, tents, boat upholstery, or something else, you can do it with a simple spray. Here’s how.
A quick tip about how to waterproof fabric
I feel a little dumb writing this post, I have to be totally honest. It’s not really a DIY as much as it is simply telling you about a product that I found and like. But hey, I did spray something from a can, so there was some action on my part 🙂
We’ve had the same patio set for a few years now (check out our small back patio post from last year—and then this year as well!). It has dark gray cushions on the loveseat and two chairs. It came with waterproofed fabric because it is outdoor furniture, but after a few years of sitting out in the elements, I have noticed that water beads off of the furniture less than it used to.
I also wanted to provide a bit of extra protection to an outdoor throw pillow I made using outdoor fabric as well—and I wanted to spray down a pretty hanging swing we’d gotten. After digging around for a bit, I decided that the best option was to buy a waterproofing spray designed for fabric. Quick, easy, and would prolong the life of my outdoor fabric items!
How to make fabric waterproof with an aerosol spray
Again, I feel a little dumb not knowing this stuff existed before, but maybe it will be news to you too. I picked up a can of Scotchgard Outdoor Water Shield. I knew you could buy things with Scotchgard treatments on them—like couches and carpets—but I didn’t know there was a DIY version in a can. And it’s pretty cheap, too.
Scotchgard says you can use this spray to get “durable protections from the elements” on outerwear, rain gear, umbrellas, patio furniture, outdoor gear, backpacks, luggage, canvas tarps, boat covers and more. As far as specific fabrics go, it is safe for polyester, nylon, canvas, polypropylene, cotton, cotton blends, leather, suede, and more, all while maintaining fabric breathability. (Not really an issue for my project since I am not doing clothes, but worth mentioning.)
You also only need one coat of this stuff for most applications. Scotchgard says to reapply the spray seasonally or “as needed,” but I’m not really sure what situation you’d need to reapply it in more often than seasonally. Maybe a coat that is worn every day? Oh, and speaking of wearing things, it’s odorless when cured. But it does have a smell while you’re spraying it.
Applying Scotchgard Heavy Duty Water Shield on my patio cushions
The first thing I did was scrub the patio cushions and let them dry thoroughly in the sun. Then I rolled them down with a lint roller. I threw a drop cloth down so that I wouldn’t have too much overspray on the grass. And I decided not to do a color test to see if it altered the color at all, but it did darken my fabric just a hair, even after it had dried.
I applied the spray just like I would spray paint, but with a slightly heavier hand. I held the can about 6 inches away from the cushions, spraying back in forth in slow motions. Cover thoroughly, but don’t spray enough to soak it. Then I let the cushions dry for a few hours, flipped them over, and sprayed the other side. I propped them up to dry for 24 hours once I was done.
For the hanging swing, it was brand new, so I didn’t clean it. Although we did let it sit out in the rain by accident right after we took it out of the box, so Mike hung it up to dry. I ended up leaving it hung to spray it down because it helped me spray the whole thing—perfect!
Since this material was more porous and totally unsealed, I did a few thin coats. We’ll see how this helps the swing hold up outside.
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