purpose designed refinishing products vs do it yourself

Feedback for the article published May 11, 2005.

purpose designed refinishing products vs do it yourself

Postby abe » Thu Feb 05, 2009 12:27 am

Hi, I've enjoyed the articles on this site, and was wondering, in reference to the article dealing with re-treating silnylon, how well do silicon refinishing sprays (such as Mcnett's Thundershield High Performance Silicon Waterproofing Spray) and PVC refinishing products (such as Mcnett's Tent Sure Tent Floor Sealant) work compared to the do it yourself method (for silicon, at least) that you outline in your article. Thanks.

Re: Refinishing sprays

Postby Jim Wood » Fri Feb 06, 2009 2:20 pm

Abe - Good question. Also comes up from time-to-time on most online backpacking forums.

1. I've not tried McNett's silicon spray, but have tested similar products such as Kiwi's Camp Dry 13% silicone spray (see below).


Although these products contain silicone, I've found that the spray does not bond (at all) with silnylon fabric. Not sure exactly why, but these products simply rub off after being applied, even if allowed to set up overnight. Probably has to do with the fact that the existing silicone impregnation prevents the spray from being absorbed into the fabric's fibers. These sprays do seem to work fairly well on untreated materials.

2. Polyurethane-based treatments will likewise not bond with standard silnylon and will simply rub off if applied.

It should be noted, however, that some lightweight shelters now use a hybrid fabric that's treated first with polyurethane (usually on the inside surface), then impregnated with silicone. The PU coating helps to improve both the fabric's water and its fire resistance. These fabrics can usually be identified by feel, since the silicone side will be very slick and the PU side much less so.

McNett's Tent Sure floor sealant would probably work fine on the PU treated side of these hybrid fabrics.

Hope this helps...


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re: refinishing sprays

Postby Abe » Tue Feb 17, 2009 4:12 pm

Thanks a lot for getting back to me Jim.

It is interesting that the silicone sprays do not bond to the silnylon - I wouldn't have thought that was the case. I suppose the solvent (mineral spirits) is what is lacking in the case of a spray-on solution (no pun intended), though my knowledge of organic chemistry is unfortunately insufficient to explain if and how silicones can be dissolved. To complicate matters, I would guess that there may be different forms of silicones (if not pure silicon) in the aerosol spray, the sealant, and the silnylon fabric. Regardless of my ignorance of the particulars of the chemistry, the fact that a solvent is necessary makes me question whether or not your treatment would work just as well on virgin 30D nylon, i.e. if it is really touching up the initial impregnation of silicon vs. largely dissolving it and applying a new, liquid coat of silicone. Either way I believe it is worthwhile, in that it adds water-repellency, as well as grip and durability, however it would be nice to know.

I was asking about the PU re-treatment (Mcnett's Tent Sure) because I was wondering if one could realistically maintain a PU tent or tarp as easily and as long as a silnylon tent or tarp, assuming one retreated the PU fabric with something like the Mcnett product, and the silnylon fabric with the method you have come up with. Could one stop the eventual cracking and peeling of the PU coating with a Mcnett-like product? Interesting note that you could retreat the PU face of a hybrid product.

Lastly, I was wondering if you have any experience with nano-technology sealants, and if you think they would bond to silnylon or PU. I wonder why they haven't caught on the outdoor world and replaced other waterproofing products, not just for tents and tarps, but clothing DWR, leather and shoe waterproofing, etc.

I'm not allowed to post URL's as a guest, but if you google nanosafeguard the first hit will take you to one such product page. Look at "nanotechnology" and "nanosafeguard products" under "menu" on the top left of the page.

There is also the schoeller nanosphere product. If you google schoeller nanosphere it will be the first 2 hits (or hit and sub hit) - look at them both, as they take you to different sites.

Thanks a lot for all your time and research,


Re: NanoSafeguard and similar products...

Postby Jim Wood » Thu Feb 19, 2009 1:36 pm

Abe -

I have no direct experience with nano-based fabric treatments, but I did research NanoSafeguard as you suggested. It's very interesting stuff that I'd like to give a try. I'd probably start with an untreated nylon or polyester fabric to see if it might be a viable alternative to silicone impregnation.

Because the nano treatment probably doesn't fill in the spaces between the fibers of a micro-weave fabric, my guess is that even though it may make the surface water repellent, it might also allow hard rain to mist through the fabric as silicone often does (depending on the amount and technique used in its application). Won't know, however, until I actually test it.

Thanks for your comments... I plan to order some NanoSafeguard and I'll let you know how my experiments turn out.


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