Asked on May 13, 2013

Can fabric be treated to make it waterproof?

I found 4 church benches 9 feet long that would be perfect for my deck! but the seating is fabric covered. I would want them to be water proof, will I HAVE TO BUY SPECIAL FABRIC? OR IS THERE A PRODUCT OUT THERE TO TREAT FABRIC TO MAKE IT WATERPROOF?
  52 answers
  • Cassi Rasmussen Cassi Rasmussen on May 13, 2013
    Yeah right up my ally. You can do both! There are some fabric stores that carry water proof fabric, it can get pricey. The other way you can do it, is to take your material ( beat to use cotton or home decor fabric) and use a heat and bond vinyl, and iron it on. I hope this helps :)
  • Z Z on Jul 22, 2013
    Well it all depends. Any fabric you use, even indoor/outdoor fabric is not weather proof. It will last longer than other fabrics, but it has to be able to breath to dry. In other words, air needs to circulate on all sides. There's also the cushions themselves. I'm guessing they are foam which does NOT do well outdoors if there's a chance it'll get wet. You'd need to replace the foam with outdoor "foam". It's really more of a firm thick batting material. Again, it needs good circulation do dry if it gets wet. Not to mention the wood. It's going to have to be protected and cared for year after year if the deck is open to rain and snow. I'm not trying to discourage you, but if you don't want to worry about making all these changes I recommend you buy tarps big enough to cover and protect the pews and only uncover them when in use.
  • Grant Enterprises South Grant Enterprises South on Sep 29, 2013
    Rustoleum has just come out with a spray that completely waterproofs anything, or so it claims. They are a great paint co and have had good luck painting all types of equipment, vehicles and even wood.
  • Tlbinftw Tlbinftw on Oct 15, 2013
    In the past I have found a indoor/outdoor type table cloth and made covers for any outdoor seat, sometimes they are seasonal print and are less expensive than the waterproof material...
  • Charlotte Belange Charlotte Belange on Oct 16, 2013
    I use spray on Scotch-Gard. I use it on my teenies all my coats inside and out same for my shoes, sleeping bags anything you want to make water proof. Char Belange YELM,WA
  • Diane Keirstead Diane Keirstead on Nov 10, 2013
    I also use Scotch-Gard. I have used it for yours to waterproof both clothing, shoes and patio Furniture. Seems to work well for me. Mind you it must be redone each season.
  • Ruth Ruth on Nov 10, 2013
    I have bench cushions I made a couple of years ago, Fabric was outdoor upholstery from Hobby Lobby. They still look good .
  • Lannie Hagan Lannie Hagan on Nov 17, 2013
    Go to your local shoe repair store and get some waterproofing from them...
  • Esther Carr Esther Carr on Nov 17, 2013
    Here's the answer: go to key in "KIWI CAMP DRY", $7.49 new or $3.10 new. Plenty of reviews on this and you'll find one remarking about doing fabric. You can also buy a Seam Sealer (probably also) to reinforce waterproofing on seams if you want. Good luck!
  • Donna Hallowell Donna Hallowell on Nov 18, 2013
    thank you for All your help, now wish me luck.
  • Cheryl Knapp Cheryl Knapp on Nov 18, 2013
    There is a good product by 3m that protects material but your best bet is "Sunbrella" or another canvas-like fabric that is made for outdoors.
  • Charlotte Belange Charlotte Belange on Nov 18, 2013
    Hi this is Char B you can also go to a fabric store in the fall and get outdoor fabric at least half price, use the fabric that's on it as a pattern that's what we did this fall for next summer. Have fun, and many more ideas
  • Arlene Buono Arlene Buono on Nov 19, 2013
    Did you want the desk to be covered? If you just wanted a new look, sand them lightly, and spray on a paint or stain, then put a good coat or two of polyurathene on it. Good Luck
  • Paticia G Paticia G on Dec 02, 2013
    there are waterproofing and solar protections sprays available I used one(don't remember which one) On some outdoor cushions - water is repelled to a point but I don't think it would stand a soaking rain I just take them in if I am forewarned about heavy rain
  • Val Roche Val Roche on Dec 14, 2013
    As a person who sews with waterproof canvas , please remember that to sit on waterproofed fabric ,that it doesn't breathe and you will get perspiration . Especially if you're sitting in shorts . However I think Sunbrella a good choice with a good variety of colour . Or treat original with waterproofing and throw loose covers on on hot days
  • Sherry Sherry on Dec 16, 2013
    First I use Aqua Armor Fabric Waterproofing Spray, then I use one coat of Scotchgard Durable Water Repellent, one coat of 3M Scotchgard Fabric Protector, Chamberlain's Leather Milk 8oz Water Protectant No. 3: and if I feel I need to do one more time I will use TX Direct Spray-On Waterproofing. None of these items are cheap and all can be found on Amazon. I may over do my protecting but it is better to over protect then to have to replace an item that goes bad. I have found over the years to use different products at same time cause the make up of chemicals are different. I do the same thing if I have to boom my home (using different brands always has a huge impact). Hope this helps.
  • Debbie Kline Debbie Kline on Jan 01, 2014
    Rustoleum Neverwet liquid repellant kit found at Home Depot and maybe other hardware stores.
  • Bobbi Perreault Bobbi Perreault on Jan 04, 2014
    I'm just a simple girl. I took a dining room chair from the 80's and painted the upholstery with semi-gloss latex paint - put it in my deck about five years ago. This has worked fine. The paint was a nice color I liked. It was time consuming to work the wall paint into the fabric, but after that it worked.
  • Kathy Smith Kathy Smith on Jan 08, 2014
    what about wood sealer irst on th wood then like a burlipbag materal might make it warter proofed
  • Cindy Cindy on Jan 11, 2014
    When you get the benches done please post, it sounds like they will be wonderful!
  • Janet Jordan Janet Jordan on Jan 19, 2014
    Not only will you have to waterproof the fabric, but, as a precautionary, I would give the pews a few good coats of marine varnish so as to protect the timber as well
  • White Oak Studio Designs White Oak Studio Designs on Jan 26, 2014
    I, personally, would buy special water proof fabric. I have a friend who had a metal table and chairs and bought regular fabric and sprayed it. It got soaked with every rainfall. She spent all of her time setting the chairs out in the sun to dry and finally out of immense frustration sold them at a garage sale. I live in Michigan and have not had luck here with wooden items standing up to the rain either. They always rot and end up in the burn pile eventually. They are fine under a porch overhang if properly sealed.
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  • Paticia G Paticia G on Jan 27, 2014
    I have purchased- years ago a repellent and sunscreen that you apply to the fabric It does repel water but I really dont think it could withstandsoaking rains we pull our cushions indoors if it looks like heavy rain
  • Janet Jordan Janet Jordan on Jan 27, 2014
    If the pews are wooden, I would definitely sand them back and put marine varnish on them, after all, it is used on ships
  • Judy Adams Judy Adams on Jan 28, 2014
    I think you can buy water repelent spray in a can . Maybe at the Army, Navy goods or scotchgard in a spray can , will repell but not a guarantee of good result.
  • White Oak Studio Designs White Oak Studio Designs on Jan 29, 2014
    Be aware that this spray it is repellant NOT waterproof (like Scotchguard spray). The rain will still soak your fabric and foam underneath.
  • Carolyn Hoxton Carolyn Hoxton on Jan 31, 2014
    Why not paint the fabric? It says on the internet you can paint fabric, how about using porch paint, or something water proof? It would be worth a try, right?
    • Lynn Zawojski Lynn Zawojski on Mar 01, 2014
      @Carolyn Hoxton I think it would be easier to purchase sunbrella fabric which is specifically for outside. However the wood will gradually be ruined from the sun, water, moisture, and be ruined. I wouldn't use the wonderful pews outdoors but would use on a covered porch, which is still a risk.
  • Or simply re-cover with marine grade material, such as the material used for boat seats . It is waterproof.
  • Jo Dee Bradley Jo Dee Bradley on Feb 01, 2014
    The benches bet they are wonderful. I had similar I removed the fabric then used a sail cloth material since the home for the benches was my southern front porch in Bama prior to my moving to Idaho. It isn't exactly waterproof no more than scottguard spray or any other repellent but this material is the hardiest when there are rains and drizzle. I hope this helps please post a pic when you get them fixed up. I had to give mine up prior to moven, maybe one day I will venture there again but first i need another porch. :)
  • Dee Dee on Feb 04, 2014
    Joyce i know walmart has a spray that is used for tents to weather proff them. My sister sews alot and told me about it.Just spray on let dry? Val has a point, Im not sure if you will sweat.Theres also alot of fabric out there for outdoors. JoAnn Fabrics or Hobby Lobby.As far as spray go ask to see it write it down and do alittle research and comments. Im sure what ever you do wil look great.Just let us looky loos see.
  • Melissa Melissa on Feb 04, 2014
    what has my concern is what happens to the water that drips from the back and sides of the bench into the water-proofed cushion. I think your best option may be to purchase/have made a slip cover for each bench. OR Get a tarp and cover it. Water just gets everywhere it seems, darn it.
  • Carole Swinn Duench Carole Swinn Duench on Feb 05, 2014
    Buy outdoor fabric. It helps prevent fading in the sun as well.
  • Plyrdojo Plyrdojo on Feb 06, 2014
    On the cheap, go to Christmas Tree Shoppe or This and That and get matching or coordinating vinyl table cloths and re-do the seats with them. Problem solved, yes")
  • Paula Palmer Paula Palmer on Feb 08, 2014
    I worked/taught craft classes for Leewareds/Michaels Arts and crafts for 32yrs, I was really good at Product knowledge= I have been using good old MOD PODGE for water proofing everything! even cloth shoe/tennis shoes, or the rope soled wedges!!!(do it before you wear them) I use too water proof my girls haIrbows=they could go swimming and their bows would be perfect! = mix half w/ water, wet your fabric/ribbon- but ring it out then submerge into half and half pod podge, soak for good 1hr then ring out and line dry turning so it does not run to one edge. With lots of fabric I have dried w/ a warm iron(cover ironing board w/ a old sheet to protect board)
  • Lisa Lisa on Feb 13, 2014
    I lived on a boat for several years and here is what I know about waterproofing and fabric. Several folks have suggested getting waterproof fabric that also doesn't fade as quickly in the sun and the most popular marine grade fabric used is called "Sunbrella" and is sold at most fabric stores but is expensive. There is still no guarantee that this will keep your cushions waterproof. Even on a boat you have to keep your cushions put away to keep them in good condition. This fabric is also used for the bimini which is the overhead canvas that wears out faster than anything else. What we have very successfully used on this canvas to keep it water proof is "Thomsons Waterseal". REALLY, you just roll it on, let it dry, then put a second coat on and let it dry. It makes the fabric slightly stiffer, but not much difference at all.
    • Lisa Lisa on Feb 13, 2014
      @Lisa PS, you want to make sure that you roll on the Thompsons "after" you have sewn the cushions together so that the seams are also sealed.
  • Barbara G Barbara G on Feb 16, 2014
    RV manufacturers use scotch guard. You may need to spray again once in a while. You can get cans of it at Joann Fabrics and Walmart. It help keep fabric cleaner too.
  • Lynn Zawojski Lynn Zawojski on Mar 01, 2014
    Wooden benches are really what I'm concerned with. No matter what cushion you put on, unless using waterproof fabric, your benches will be ruined before the fabric is destroyed, by sun and exposure. The benches need to be protected from sun, moisture and rain, high grass on legs, which again has moisture. A seat cushion will be heavy wet, and ruin the wood underneath. Varnish may help but you will never get in the joints to save the warping, mildew, rotting. I wish you luck and be good to your benches, they've had a wonderful previous life.
  • Cookie Callison-Douglas Cookie Callison-Douglas on Mar 01, 2014
    Go to the following web site and check out their waterproofing product. Otherwise you might want to check out an outdoor or camping specialty store. ie. Backwoods, Bass Pro, etc.
  • Jean Kiehl Kloska Jean Kiehl Kloska on Mar 03, 2014
    Hi Joyce ! Since it is the bench itself you are concerned about ...Marine Varnish or a Deck finish are likely to be the best the answers ; -)
  • Sharron Sharron on Mar 09, 2014
    Another suggestion which might help with preventing water sitting in the benches after a might drill small holes at the lowest spot on the bench seats. These, of course, would be covered with the cushions. Don't put the holes too close together, as you don't want to mess with the integrity of the seat, but an occasional small the holes in a planter...will help with controlling water build-up. I also agree with several of the comments above, that constructing water-proof covers for the benches would probably be your best bet.
  • LInda Pemberton LInda Pemberton on Mar 09, 2014
    I think Thomspon's Water Seal makes a spray product for fabric.Just a day or 2 ago someone on HT recovered some dining chairs and sprayed the fabric to waterproof it so it didn't retain food stains or beverage spills.
  • Marcia Cantrell Marcia Cantrell on Mar 09, 2014
    Scotchgard Spray would at least make this water resistant...but not sure if cushions would be water PROOF. Or you could recover the cushions with an outdoor waterproof fabric.I think Sharrons idea to keep water from standing on the bench itself by drilling small holes that would be covered by the cushions is a great idea. A couple of coats of polyurethane or varnish would help protect the wood also.
  • Cookie Callison-Douglas Cookie Callison-Douglas on Mar 10, 2014
    I'm sorry, I thought the question was about waterproofing the fabric not the benches.
  • Sharon Martin Moreland Sharon Martin Moreland on Mar 11, 2014
    I'm certainly not a professional. However after reading the other comments, I agree that the benches definitly need to be treated as well as the fabric. That would be my first step. Then if you want to keep the fabric thats already on the benches, definitly get them waterproofed. It ma in the long run be just as cheap to got to a fabric outlet store and buy fabric that is made especially for outdoors. Good Luck!!!
  • It's costly but Rustoleum's Never Wet, is a miracle. You can use it on both the wood and fabric.
  • Sherry Knott Sherry Knott on Mar 15, 2014
    I've had this same question, so these are wonderful answers and a great help to me.
  • Kathy Kathy on Mar 30, 2014
    Linda's idea of Thompson's Water Seal sounds good to me and I am going to try that myself. If you don't want the glossy sheen of marine varnish on the wooden part you can buy quart cans of Spar Urethane. Minwax is one maker that has a satin sheen. It says that it gives exceptional protection from sunlight, rain and moisture, and temperature changes. I got mine at Lowes. Having a "vintage or rustic" taste I always try to stay away from glossy finishes.
  • White Oak Studio Designs White Oak Studio Designs on Mar 31, 2014
    Check carefully that there are no toxins in Thompson's Water Seal. Bringing that into your home, smelling it, and sitting on it, may be detrimental for your health!!
  • Jane Taylor Jane Taylor on Apr 25, 2014
    I think there is a product that sprays on like scotchgard
  • Betty Perrault Betty Perrault on May 08, 2014
    I ditto the recommendation for Never Wet by Rustoleum. It is a new product and can be found at most home improvement stores plus the "marts". I also think the wood needs to be protected.
  • Sandie Sandie on Jun 05, 2014
    I don't know if anyone mentioned it, but I would actually have protective decorative covers made for the entire bench, when they are not in use. (Water proof material) Unless they are completely out of the weather. Good luck!
  • Mary Mary on Jul 18, 2014
    You could also buy heavy duty clear plastic at a fabric store and cover the material with that, unless someone knows a reason not to, that I havent thought of. But, I pretty much agree with everyone above.