InTents June/July 2019 - 48

business | tips and techniques

How to patch tent fabric
with a heat gun
Follow these steps to make simple repairs to damaged tent tops.

T

Repairs on the go
Be ready to make temporary
repairs at installation sites
with fully stocked repair kits
in every tent delivery vehicle.
Kits may include:
* Self-adhesive patches
in a variety of sizes for
temporary repairs
* Liquid vinyl
* HH-66 (clear vinyl cement)
* Scissors
* Rubbing alcohol
* Repair clips
* 12-by-12-inch patch
sheets with no adhesive
* Pencil
* Palm sewer
* Webbing
* Bullet for keder and
keder repair supplies
* Grommets, grommet tools
and a dead blow hammer
for grommet repair

48 intents

june-july 2019

he most common types of damage
to tent tops that tent rental companies repair on their own are pinholes
and simple cuts. Liquid vinyl is appropriate for pinholes-about the size of an
eraser head or smaller. The next step up,
especially for a repair at an installation
site, is HH-66 (clear vinyl cement).
Heat gun repairs done in your facility
are superior to in-the-field options.
But first, you'll need to decide whether
you can make the repair on your own
rather than returning the fabric to the
manufacturer. Here, the location of the
damage and what else is compromised
are more important than simply size of
damage. For example, in the case of a
pole tent, you may think that you have a
simple cut, but as you inspect it, you see
that there is a cut in the webbing. That
webbing is instrumental in the rigidity
and structure of the top. Unless you have
the sewing equipment and knowledge
to make that kind of repair, you'll need
to return it to the manufacturer. Damage
that requires partial or full panel
replacement generally goes back to the
manufacturer as well.
To repair tent fabric with a heat gun,
you will need a large, stable, flat surface
(for tent rental companies, a banquet
table would suffice) and a substrate
to cover and protect the surface from
the heat gun. The heat gun itself must
have a flat nozzle (not a round paint
remover-style nozzle) that can spread
the heat evenly between the damaged

tent material and the patch material.
You'll also need a silicon roller tool,
cleaning solvent, scissors and the patch
material. It's critical that the patch
material is the same material as the tent
fabric, because different fabrics bond at
different temperatures. Get this from
the manufacturer.
If you don't have a lot of experience
making repairs with a heat gun, practice
on scrap material first. You risk further
damage if you aren't skilled at this type
of repair. When you are ready to make
the repair, follow these steps:
1. Prepare the damaged fabric to
receive the patch by cleaning it with
acetone, rubbing alcohol, toluene
or methyl ethyl ketone (MEK).
These solvents are compatible with
vinyl fabric and contact cement.
The surface area must be dry
before proceeding.
2. Cut a round or oval patch that is a
minimum of 1 inch larger than the
damaged area, or the width of the
heat nozzle and roller. If you are
using a square or rectangular patch,
round off the corners to improve the
edge bonding.
3. Place the fabric to be repaired on
the work surface with the top side
of the tent facing up.
4. Place the patch material over the
repair area so that it is evenly
spaced all the way around. Line up
the scrim pattern of the patch with
that of the tent top.



InTents June/July 2019

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