What Are Tent Fabrics Made Of?






Your heavy duty tent’s canopy is that all essential component that shields you from the elements. Evidently, much depends on the choice of material used to manufacture the canopy. In this article we will see how different types of fabrics behave when it comes to safeguarding tent users from the not-so-pleasant side of nature. We will also understand which material is the most cost effective and why. So, read on!

Tent makers use all sorts of materials to manufacture the ideal canopy for your outdoor canopy tent. Each has its merits and demerits. So, how do they compare?


We begin our study with what was once the most widely used material for tent and ship sail manufacturing – canvas. It is made from natural fibres derived from plants, and has proven its worth over many centuries.


ü  Protection from UV: A thick canvas canopy will absorb most of the UV rays in sunlight. You can coat the material with UV absorbent solutions for extra protection. 

ü  Waterproofing abilities: Canvas performs brilliantly in protecting you from light drizzles and mild rainfall. The natural fibres that go into manufacturing canvas soak up the rainwater, swell up and seal the weave, making the sheet waterproof. To keep out rainwater during heavy showers, use wax or waterproofing solutions with your canvas canopy.

ü  Breathability and Insulation:  Canvas is a woven fabric and woven fabrics are more breathable than moulded sheets. The weaves in a canvas canopy allow the right amount of air to circulate through the tent, keeping the environment inside fresh and comfortable. In addition to that, the air pockets trapped between the weaves act as natural insulators in cold weather!    


o   Weight: Canvas is heavy! And this makes it unwieldly and difficult to fold and carry. But on the bright side, it doesn’t flap in windy conditions like many artificial fabrics.

o   Mildew: Yes, canvas is prone to attracting mildew and you have to take care of it by applying things like vinegar and anti-fungal solutions.  

o   Cost and Maintenance: Canvas is more expensive than materials like PVC or nylon. And it demands a bit more care than the said materials.

Artificial fabrics – Nylon, Polyester, Acrylic and PVC

These days, fabrics made of manmade materials like nylon, polyester, acrylic and PVC have all but replaced canvas in largescale commercial tent manufacturing. So, your even tent or custom pop up tent is probably made of one of these materials. But how do they compare to each other, and canvas, for that matter? Let’s take a close look.  


ü  UV resistance and waterproofing abilities: All the aforementioned materials are adept at blocking the bulk of UV radiations in sunlight. And they are naturally waterproof. PVC really shines in this department.

ü  Insulation & breathability: Polyester is a woven material with a constitution that is somewhat similar to natural fibres. Hence, it is the most breathable and insulating of the lot.

ü  Lightweight: This is one aspect where all manmade materials really shine. But we will go with polyester as the star performer in this department.   

ü  Cost and longevity: Well, they tend to be cheaper than canvas for sure! Good quality polyester is the costliest of the lot and finds application in garments manufacturing due to its fine texture. All four materials are long-lasting and prove to be cost-effective in the long run.  

ü  Customisability: We don’t have to tell you how important it is to have your event tent customised. Outdoor canopy tents often serve the dual purpose of functioning as your temporary shelter in campsites and a catchy pavilion in tradeshows and other similar outdoor events. It helps to have an accessory that reflects your aesthetic taste and functions as a brand promotion tool, at the same time. A custom printed pop up tent does exactly that. Polyester, PVC and other manmade materials can be easily customised to suit your creative needs. Just ask your tent manufacturer and they’ll be happy to help. 

Cons compared to canvas

Well, we could think of just one area where these materials lag behind when compared to canvas. They are not as breathable or insulating as canvas.

What’s all the buzz about Polyurethane (PU), Polyethylene and Poly-PVC?

Polyurethane or PU is a revolutionary new material that has proven to be an asset for the tent manufacturing industry. It is a polymer that can be moulded into rigid shapes or pressed into flexible sheets. You can also apply it as a coat on your tent canopy to make it more waterproof and fire retardant.

Polyethylene is quickly gaining popularity over more traditionally used materials like polyester and nylon because of a couple of inherent attributes.

ü  It is tough and easily recycled.

ü  Polyethylene is extremely affordable, making it a good option for buyers on a budget.

Poly-PVC is a smart hybrid. It is essentially a polyester fabric that has been coated with PVC to add to its strengths. PVC also lends the underlying polyester a classy sheen. This accentuates the colour scheme of any graphics that you may have had printed on your tent canopy.


It’s easy to confuse ‘cheap’ with ‘cost-effective’. But there’s a world of difference between an accessory that is cheap upfront and one that proves to be cost-effective in the long run. A cheap accessory might not last long enough and plague your business with reliability issues. But a cost-effective accessory will always prove to be an asset in the long run, even if it isn’t exactly cheap to buy.

While choosing your heavy duty tent, go for products from reputed manufacturers like Extreme Canopy. They have the required expertise to deliver customised accessories that you’ll cherish for a very long time!   

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