Q: How can I get a long life out of my tent fabric?
A: First, it’s important to understand the composition of tent fabric.
Scrim is a coarse woven polyester material used for reinforcement in both laminated and coated PVC (tent vinyl). The flexible scrim material is then encapsulated in PVC using either a lamination or coating process to create tent, canopy, shelter or banner fabrics. The scrim adds the majority of the strength to the PVC material.
Scrim mold is mold or mildew that grows inside tent, canopy, shelter or structure fabric. This occurs when moisture penetrates the scrim through small abrasions and/or pinholes in the laminated or coated PVC film layer. A pinhole is a small puncture or abrasion that penetrates through single or multiple PVC layers. Scrim mold will cause discoloration in translucent fabric as light passes through. There is no way to remove scrim discoloration once it occurs. Scrim mold is visible through translucent fabrics, but not through blockout fabrics.
Actions that will cause premature degradation and reduced life expectancy of your tents include:
- Extended use of the tent without cleaning.
- Accumulation of dirt on the vinyl surface. This will promote the growth of mold, mildew and premature wear.
- Storage of vinyl that has not been dried thoroughly. Even a slightly damp product can promote the growth of mildew when folded and stored. Mold and/or mildew may require harsh cleaners to remove, which may cause premature wear. The best solution is to take every precaution to keep mold and mildew from growing in the first place
- Use of harsh detergents and cleaners that contain a solvent or bleach. The longer tent fabric is exposed to these products, the more it will reduce the life of the vinyl. If you use a product containing a solvent or bleach, it is very important to remove it as quickly as possible, rinse thoroughly and dry.
- Use of high abrasive cleaners, including wire brushes, power washers and commercial washing machines not designed for tent fabric. These will result in premature wear and deterioration of tent fabric.
- Improper handling during installation and dismantling, such as on a rough surface. This can create pinholes and abrasions.
- Exposing the fabric to wind whip during installation and takedown.