By Michael Tharpe
Q: How do I repair a damaged tent?
A: There are a few things to consider before repairing your own tent. First, you should determine whether you can repair the tent at your shop, or whether you’re more comfortable sending it out to a professional. Professional repair shops, such as your manufacturer, will make the repair using the same material as the original tent top, and the section should look just like new. However, small cosmetic damage can be easy enough to repair on your own.
Either way, repairs should be categorized to fit your tenting operation.
- A – Not rentable; must be repaired before returning to the rental fleet.
- B – Minor damage, such as small cuts or holes. Not first-quality rental grade; repair as soon as possible.
- C – Cosmetic damage, such as pin holes, scuffs or abrasion marks.
The most common damage, and the easiest repairs to make, falls under category C. Cosmetic damage can generally be repaired via one of two methods: liquid vinyl or vinyl patches.
Most manufacturers have liquid vinyl available for their customers. With liquid vinyl, use a small applicator (such as a brush or toothpick) to apply a dot of the liquid vinyl to the affected area. Liquid vinyl is self-leveling and will cure in approximately one hour. Do not fold the top until it has had sufficient curing time. Liquid vinyl is available in most tent colors.
Self-adhesive vinyl patches are another option. They are available in most colors and come in a variety of shapes and sizes. These products are simple to apply—just peel off the paper backing and apply the patch where it’s needed. Use a vinyl roller to ensure that the patch has been applied evenly and is attached firmly. Keep in mind this is not a long-term repair; the patch can be pulled off during the folding or cleaning process.
All of these repairs can be easily accomplished on the job site. Your manufacturer should be able to supply you with a field repair kit for your setup crew that can be taken to each job.
If your tent has been damaged or discolored from bird droppings, adhesive tape residue, grease or lawn fertilizer, you may find yourself needing to clean the tent on the job site. Do not use oil based cleaners on these spots, as they will cause the vinyl to turn yellow. For tough stains such as bird droppings, try a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser®, which can be purchased at your local grocery store. The Magic Eraser even works on pen marks. For grease or oil-based stains, printing ink, gasoline, asphalt and lawn fertilizers, try the All Natural Citro Cleaner from Shipp Chemicals, or another citrus-based cleaner. Other types of cleaning tools are better suited to a more thorough cleaning process done back at the shop or through a cleaning vendor.