Complete Guide to Choosing the Best Tent Materials & Fabrics for Custom Tents


Not all canopy tents are created equal. To make the most of your custom event tents, you must ensure they are made from the best quality materials. The choice of fabric is a crucial feature for the longevity of the tent canopies.

With the growing demand for custom canopies across the United States and other growing economies, more tent fabric choices are available than ever. With so many tent material options, it is easy to get confused.

Which fabric or material is best for your custom outdoor tent will depend on how long you will have it up, what type of events you will use it for, and of course, your budget.

Types of Tent Fabrics Available

Let’s delve into the different types of materials commonly used for custom tents and which one you should pick for your event. There are quite a few choices to consider:


Canvas is one of the most popular natural materials used for tent canopies. It is traditionally 100% cotton and thus breathable and durable. You can count on a canvas tent for added ventilation to prevent condensation.

Although relatively cheaper, the canvas is no longer a popular choice for constructing custom tents. The canvas material does not work well against harmful UV rays or rainfall. If not properly cared for, it can start to rot too.


Some of the most common demands of business owners and outdoor enthusiasts for outdoor event tents include: durability, UV protection, water resistance, and fire resistance. Polyester material ticks all these checkboxes to a certain level.

Many tent manufacturers prefer the strength, durability, and colorfast nature of the polyester fabric. Remember to check the denier (D) of the canopy fabric – the higher the fabric’s denier, the thicker and tougher the fabric.

The polyester fabric also offers UV protection and water resistance, making it suitable for outdoor events during sunny weather as well as light rainfall. However, since it is not essentially waterproof, water can eventually seep in if exposed to rain or snow for a prolonged period.

Polyester tents are available in a variety of coatings, like PVC-coated polyester and PU-coated polyester. The use of coated polyester material makes outdoor canopy tents:

  • 100% waterproof
  • Wind- and weather-resistant
  • UV-protected
  • Fire-retardant
  • Colorfast

The PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) coating on the fabric makes every inch of the polyester innards impermeable to UV rays and completely waterproof. It offers a higher degree of protection against rain and harsh weather conditions. The PVC-coated polyester fabric also holds digital prints well and for longer durations.

An added advantage of polyester over another popular tent fabric called polycotton (a hybrid of polyester & cotton) is that the polyester fabric does not shrink or get heavier on coming in contact with water. Polycotton is pretty absorbent and retains water.

Polyethylene (PE)

Polyethylene is a versatile tent material that is tough and heavy-weight. The PE fabric is usually plastic coated on both sides, which stops tears and damage. However, it is only suitable for tents that are to be used in a domestic setting, like backyards or home gardens, or used only for a limited time outdoors.

Furthermore, this material is best suited for canopy structures that you don’t need to dismantle and pack up frequently. The PE fabric will gradually become weak and worn out if used on canopies taken up and down frequently. Due to this, it may not be an ideal choice for your custom printed pop up tent despite all its other benefits. However, it is a good choice if you are on a budget!

100% PVC

This is yet another popular and highly durable canopy fabric option out there. 

Due to its excellent resistance to UV radiations or direct sunlight, the 100% PVC fabric is well-suited for outdoor event tents and more permanent shade solutions like patio umbrellas, poolside shades, awnings, and tent roof covers.

This heavy-duty PVC tent material sports a high gloss look and is less susceptible to scratching, dirt, and fading from ultraviolet light. The PVC material is preferred by customers for all kinds of recreational and business events.


Nylon is yet another man-made fabric some manufacturers use for custom tent construction. It is generally stronger and more lightweight than polyester, making it the perfect tent material choice for carrying a tent in your backpack in wet weather.

Also, nylon can tear easily, so it is recommended only for smaller or lightweight tents and not bigger family-sized tents. For extra strength and durability, many tent manufacturers also use ripstop nylon for tent canopy construction.

Like polyester, nylon fabric is also water-resistant (but not necessarily waterproof). This means it does not shrink or become heavier due to heavy rains.

One of the biggest drawbacks of nylon material is that it is vulnerable to UV rays. It can weaken due to extended exposure to sun rays, so it should not be used in hot weather under direct sunlight only for an extended period.

Final Thoughts

If you frequently engage in outdoor events for business promotion and to increase your brand visibility, you must choose your custom tent material with prudence. Just like there are different tent frames for different applications, there are different tent fabrics too – each with its own pros and cons. Ultimately, the best tent fabric will depend on your individual needs and preferences. 

Whether you need a tent that promises the best weather protection or one that is easy to set up and tear down, make sure you do your own research before making a purchase decision. Don’t hesitate to reach out to any tent manufacturer for advice.


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