Water-resistant fabrics have been used for a long time as a means of buffering ourselves from water spillage and even slight drizzles. This is the reason behind its usage in the manufacturing of raincoats, diaper wraps, outdoor furniture covers, changing pads, shower curtains, and many more.
Water Resistance Vs Water Proof: The big Difference
People often use the terms water-resistant and water-proof interchangeably. However, they are not the same thing. Waterproof ideally means that water cannot penetrate through the same. You can take the example of a solid piece of metal. Water-resistant, on the other hand, refers to porous fabrics which might not be impervious to water but remain wearable even on becoming wet.
Best Water Resistant Fabrics
- Waxed Canvas
- Woven Fabric from ELS Cotton
- Plastic, Vinyl, and Pleather
- Polyester Fleece
- Latex and Natural Rubber
- Poplin or Laminated cotton
- Densely woven fabrics
- Nylon & Polyester
Polyurethane Laminate or PUL is a polyester fabric having a water-resistant coating. This highly durable and breathable fabric has slight cross gain stretch. It feels both flexible and comfortable against the skin given its soft nature. PUL fabric comes with a thickness ranging from 1 to 2 millimeter and can either be a blend of polyester and cotton or 100% cotton. PUL feels softer and thinner than cotton PUL and can be subjected to washes ‘n’ a number of times without having to worry about any damage.
Thermoplastic polyurethane or TPU is a common constituent of products like cloth diapers. It is more flexible, softer, and environmentally friendlier compared to PUL. However, it might not be adequately durable as PUL.
3. Waxed Canvas
This densely woven cotton fabric comes coated in paraffin-based wax which imparts a rugged and weathered appearance to the same courtesy the folds and creases of wax on the surface. While canvas by itself is a water-resistant fabric, the level of waterproofness gets further enhanced by the additional coating. This also adds to its cost when compared to normal canvas.
4. Woven Fabric from ELS Cotton
ELS or Extra Long Staple is a specially grown cotton crop characterized by extra-long fibers. These are woven for adding to the density of this cotton textile and the result being an extraordinarily waterproof fabric. The ELS fabric expands automatically on being presented to harsh weather conditions for offering tighter protection.
This fabric was invented from stretched Teflon back in 1969 and has gained an immense fan-following given its durable nature. Gore-tex is massively used in the manufacture of a wide gamut of camping equipment and medical replacement parts. U.S. Marine Corps has used Gore-tex in its field rain jackets given the waterproof nature of this fabric. Other than the obvious water resistance, Gore-tex also offers a high level of breathability to the skin while drying off easily.
Also popularized as American cloth or enameled cloth, this fabric originally came coated with boiled linseed oil for enhancing its waterproof attributes. Coming to modern times, oilcloth is usually made using linen or cotton material with a clear vinyl top layer. This durable, hard-wearing and easy-to-clean fabric is perfect for making tablecloths, tote bags, coverings, kitchen accessories, etc. although it is not used in the garment manufacturing industry.
7. Plastic, Vinyl, and Pleather
The waterproof nature of these artificial materials has led to their usage in making tote bags, cosmetic bags, placemats, beach bags, and many more. Fully waterproof marine vinyl fabric such as expanded Polyvinyl Chloride goes into the manufacturing of marine upholstery and other things required on boats. The vinyl fabric has commonly been used in designing iconic clothing ranging from punk-rock jackets to catsuits. Pleather is another name for vinyl clothing which is resistant to water but doesn’t fare well in holding up the heat.
8. Polyester Fleece
The water repellent nature of polyester fleece has led to its usage in making the outer layers of cloth diapers. You can enhance the water-resistant nature of polyester fleece by adding a specially applied water-repellent coating.
9. Latex and Natural Rubber
Latex has taken an important role in our daily lives. Near perfect water, protection is delivered by the synthetic rubber products and the natural sap from the rubber trees. However, it requires a skilled hand for coming up with comfortable clothing. Natural rubber latex is biodegradable making it an environment-friendly option.
Polyester microfiber fabric having a special waterproof coating carries a supple suede-like finish on its exterior and is popularly used in the manufacturing of jackets.
The USP of wool lies in its natural water-resistant nature which gets enhanced further when it comes coated with lanolin. You might have to undertake this process every now and then for the best results. Alternatively, you can purchase boiled wool which is denser and more water-resistant. You can take the example of wool felt which is often used in the manufacturing of hats that can withstand subtle rain exposure.
12. Poplin or Laminated cotton
Laminated fabrics serve as an excellent alternative to PUL as it is based on the same concept. The fabric comes with a waterproof coating and is more environment-friendly although it is not equally effective as PUL. The laminated fabric has gained popularity in the manufacture of weather protective gears like windcheaters, raincoats, protective jackets, ski wear, etc. The best thing about this fabric is that it can keep the wearers feeling both dry and comfortable even under extreme weather conditions.
13. Densely woven fabrics
Fabrics made using synthetic micro denier filament yarns or cotton have a compacted weave structure which adds to its water repellent nature. A fewer number of pores in the densely woven fabrics prevent water from passing through. Imparting a durable waterproof repellent coating to these fabrics helps to make them completely waterproof.
14. Nylon & Polyester
These materials have tight weaves which add to their water-resistant attributes. However, they can be used for making waterproof merchandise such as umbrellas on being subjected to a special coating. The fabric interior remains covered with polyurethane. Let’s take a look at some of the variations of this fabric:
- Terylene is a densely woven polyester fabric having waterproof quality and is used in making sunshades, sails, awnings, canopies, and many more.
- Ripstop nylon is a wind-resistant lightweight fabric made from nylon fibers. Next, it is given a waterproof coating for enhancing its level of durability. Ripstop nylon was used in making parachutes during World War 2. Coming to modern times, this tear-free fabric is used in garden furniture coverings, tents, backpacks, waterproof clothing, workwear, and kites.
- Specially coated nylon taffeta is waterproof in nature and is used to make patio umbrellas, rain umbrellas, etc. It has a sheen on its surface and a smooth weave that feels plush to the touch.
- PVC-coated polyester is completely waterproof and comes with a poly-vinyl chloride coating at its back. While it might feel slightly stiff around the exterior, you are bound to get surprised with the smooth finish of its inside.
Technological advancements over decades have improved the knowledge of the general public on water-resistant fabrics. In simple terms, these fabrics can either reduce or stop water from passing through the material. Water-resistance is measured in millimeters (mm), i.e., the amount of water that can be held by this fabric prior to seepage.
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