Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Six Easy Steps to Repairing A SilNylon Tarp

Well, the inevitable happened... My brand new Warbonnet Mambajamba Tarp just received it's first scar - a 1/2" tear.  I've got to admit that this tarp has so far stood up to more 'abuse' than I thought it would.  That's not to say I've abused it, but it has had a few brushes with branches and tree limbs and until recently has come away clean.

So, with this small tear, I've got to make a repair to keep it from getting bigger, letting rain and wind in, etc..  Since I've gone through the process now, I thought I'd share how I did it.  There are a few extra steps you can take to make your repair as close to permanent as possible.  I'd recommend going a little above and beyond to get it done right the first time.

Six Easy Steps to Repairing A Tear on Your Hammock or Tent Tarp


First off, if you aren't carrying a few feet of duct tape on every hiking trip, it's a great idea to start.  Duct tape is a pretty darn good cure all for lots of stuff.  Temporary fixes on tent and tarp tears is one of them and if you need a quick, temporary fix while out on the trail, duct tape is just the thing.

I cut two same sized pieces of duct tape and sandwiched the tear on my Warbonnet Mambajamba right in between them.  To make this fix work, the tarp needs to be dry.  You'll want to cut the duct tape so that it overlaps the tarp tear by about 1/2" to 1" all the way around.

Duct tape was a very solid temporary fix for my tarp and got me through the rest of my trip without a problem.

Once I was back home, I put an order in for a patch kit from Warbonnet Outdoors and at $5 it was certainly a bargain.  **For the record, I'd recommend getting one of these repair kits up front with the tarp purchase and keeping it in your first aid kit.

Step One: Cut a small, oversized square of duct tape and stick it to one side of the tear then turn the tarp over to reveal the rip as shown in the photo. The duct tape will keep the tear closed during the repair and makes it much easier to apply the repair patch.


The tear in the photo above is approximately 1/2" long and the material of construction for the tarp and the patch is 20D Silnylon.

Step Two:  To make the repair strong and if you've got enough patch materials, cut two same sized patches both large enough to cover the tear by at least 1/2".  Ideally, you'll want these patches to be the same size as your temporary duct tape patch underneath.

In a pinch, you can repair with only one patch.  I can't see an advantage in where you place the patch - topside or underside.  Either would work fine.

If you do patch only on one side, after drying, I would add a thin layer of silicone to the side opposite the patch as well.  

That will add a layer of protection and the silicone will also cover the tear to prevent additional fraying.

Step Three:  To ensure the best watertight seal use 100% Silicone Sealer.  I purchased mine directly from the manufacturer but there are plenty of other places to pick this up including the local hardware store.


I'd recommend against super glue or other bonding agents [rubber cement, etc] as they may weaken the Silnylon or not have water repelling characteristics.

Step Four:  With that temporary duct tape patch behind the tear, put a dime sized glob of silicone in the center of the tear and spread a thin layer to all corners.  Be sure to overlap the temporary patch underneath just a bit.


And it's not a problem to use your index finger to spread the silicone around.  The silicone is not toxic, but you'll want to wash your hands when you're done.

Step Five: To ensure the tightest possible bond, apply a thin layer of silicone to the patch before applying the patch to the tarp or tent.  This little extra step can be the difference between your patch seeing you through a few seasons or only one to two outings.

Be generous with the silicone but not so much that extra will squeeze out when the patch is applied.

Step Six:  Once you've got the patch covered with a thin layer of silicone as well, it's time to set it on the tear and apply pressure.

The silicone will cure in about 1 hour depending on the size of your patch and the temp/humidity.

For Best Results:
Once it's cured on this side, turn the tarp over and repeat the process on the opposite side.

Additionally, to add life to your patch, place a small bead of silicone along all the edges to overlap.  This will also guard against the edges or corners turning up.

Go Hit the Trail!