I used a brand new caravan classic tent (top of their line, $350.00) ez up style, at my first fair this past weekend. It rained the first day and the tent leaked at the seams, eventually the whole top became wet to the touch. I had to move all of my art off the walls into the center.
Questions for you all...
1) Are there any 10 x 10 art fair tents in the $200 to $400 range that will NOT leak?
2) Is there a way to waterproof the tent I have (effectively) at this point? Will seam sealer and a waterproofing spray help at all? Have any of you done this?
3) ecanopy, from whom I purchased, first said that the tent was not meant to be used in the rain, and would not refund it. I found some claims on their site saying that "it's great for the rain," and now they will refund.
4) Should I just get my money back and start with another tent? which one? I know that Trimlines and Light Domes are great, but am not really ready to invest that high.
Thanks and look forward to some advice.
Thanks for all the comments. I ended up buying a trimline tent rather than another EZ up. I did discover that Light Dome sells vinyl tops and side walls for three or four different sizes of EZ up tents. The cost for the top is $295 and each side wall is $95. If you are devoted to your ez up frame, this might be an option.
Last year we did a show where rain was predicted during set up as well as the first day. I noticed several folks with EZ Ups taking blue tarps and placing them over the EZ Ups and weighting the tarps down separately with concrete blocks, dumb bells, or any other thing with weight. It was basically a tent for the EZ Up. The blue tarp was water proof. Overnight it poured. Those folks with the blue tarps were fine. All the water just ran off on the ground. Most of the EZ Ups without the tarps were down due to the weight of the water that collected between the supports. A friend of ours had their EZ Up stay up but it was so saturated with water it was raining inside their tent. They had to close fearing damage to their leather goods. There is a big difference between water repellent and water proof.
I will never understand why tent manufacturers would use polyester when vinyl is not that expensive. It is cheap to buy a quite large waterproof vinyl tarp so obviously the cost of vinyl is not a deciding factor. I would not buy a polyester tarp to protect anything I wanted to keep dry...
The top on my pop-up tent (not an ez- up) is vinyl. It is very tight when opened and all of the seams are heat welded together instead of sewn together. This eliminates the thousands of micro holes along the seams that occur when a tent has the seams sewn together. The vinyl top stays on the frame when folded up and I always keep the entire tent in the roller bag when not in use to prevent abrasions.
My very first tent had a polyester top that had sewn seams and required waterproofing treatment as an ongoing maintenance. My only maintenance now with my current tent with the vinyl top is keeping it clean.
Here is my two cents worth as water is my major nemesis when exhibiting leather. My tents (2) were custom made ( Denver Tent and Awning) with vinyl tops with 1" conduit frames to hold a lot of wall weight and withstand mountain micro bursts. One is tan striped and heavier than the white one. There is a center ridge line, and water tends to pool along the side walls. Pinholes develop when the beast is rolled up on asphalt or debris in grass. Wherever there is a stitch line in any fabric, there is the potential for leaks from the needle holes. The heavier the thread and the larger the needle, the bigger the holes. Multiple seams may merge at the corners. I combat the pooling problem by keeping the top of the tent as tight as possible with ropes and 1/8" support panels along the tops of the side walls. Seams are sealed on the OUTSIDE with silicone and I work it into the needle holes. Pinholes are patched with silicone from the INSIDE when it rains so I can find them.
I just finished working on my tent after noticing corner leaks at Jackson, WY show. Older silicone (at least 2-3 years old) is still good on seams, but I noticed some separation where the fabric was folded. Cost: the original tan tent was about $1000 in the early 1990's and the white canopy was $1300 in early 2000's. I have to balance tent cost with protecting about $50K of inventory exhibited at shows. Vinyl makes a dark interior, but offers better protection from rain.
A lot of info has been written here about waterproofing tents and waterproof tents. You should go to the top right corner of the page and do a search for waterproofing a tent. You will find an information overload for both cheap tents and higher priced tents.
Marilyn, I've had an EZ Up for 13 years and last weekend is the first time it leaked! My question is similar and to this group - where can I find a replacement top that doesn't leak. I've searched online, but don't know who to trust at this point. I have the Sam's Club $200 version Encore ll.