What Fabrics Are Waterproof?

Posted by Matthew Ressler on

At CordaRoy's, we believe that waterproof fabrics shouldn't be limited to just outdoor gear. That's why we have carefully curated our collection to include everyday products that enhance both functionality and style. 

However, shopping for products made with waterproof materials is not as straightforward as it may seem. Questions like "What fabrics are waterproof?" and "Is there a difference between waterproof and water-resistant?" often leave consumers scratching their heads. Fortunately, we’re here to clear up the confusion and help you make informed purchasing decisions. 

Let's dive deeper into the world of waterproof fabrics and discover the options available to keep you dry and worry-free in any situation.

Waterproof Vs. Water Resistant

When discussing fabrics, "waterproof" and "water-resistant" are often used interchangeably. This leads to confusion for customers and even some brands. However, it's important to understand that these two terms have distinct meanings and characteristics.

Waterproof fabrics are created with a specific purpose: to block water. This helps to keep the material underneath dry, even when exposed to moisture for a long period of time. These fabrics are constructed with advanced technologies and treatments that create a barrier, making them highly resistant to water penetration. 

On the other hand, water-resistant fabrics are designed to reduce water penetration. However, they are not completely waterproof. These fabrics have a coating or treatment that helps repel water and prevent it from easily soaking into the material. 

Outer Covers

When it comes to waterproof products, the outer covers play a crucial role in both protection and comfort. They’re designed to protect whatever is inside the cover from liquid spills, stains, and regular water. 

At CordaRoys, our outdoor bean bag chairs are a prime example of ultimate moisture protection. These chairs are crafted from marine-grade materials that are not only durable but also mildew-resistant. 

Crafted to withstand rain, humidity, and UV rays, our outdoor bean bags can thrive in any environment. After some rigorous testing in the harsh conditions of Florida, we can confidently guarantee their strength and longevity.

If you don’t have an outdoor bean bag chair, but you want to make your indoor bean bag waterproof, we’ve thought of that, too! Simply add a bed protector to the inner bed of your chair and you’re all set. Our bed protectors bring waterproof protection to both the top and bottom of your convertible bean bag chair. They even feature side panels made from breathable fabrics that ensure moisture-free comfort all night long. 

For those with furry friends, we also offer dog beds with a waterproof outer cover that delivers top-to-bottom protection. Now your pets can enjoy the same level of comfort while you relax, knowing that their playful antics won't compromise the integrity of your bean bag. 

1. Nylon Ripstop

Nylon ripstop fabric is lightweight and water-resistant. It is popularly used in outdoor products, such as tents, ponchos, outdoor furniture covers, and other items. This fabric is made from nylon fibers with reinforced threads in a crosshatch pattern.

2. Polyester Taffeta

Polyester taffeta is a synthetic polyester fabric renowned for its water-resistant properties. This fabric is commonly used for raincoats, umbrellas, and outdoor equipment. Its water-repellant construction helps to repel moisture and keep the underlying items dry. 

3. Polyurethane-coated Nylon

Polyurethane-coated nylon is a versatile and popular fabric choice for outdoor enthusiasts and adventurers. It is coated with a layer of polyurethane, a synthetic polymer known for its water-resistant properties. This highly durable material is ideal for outdoor gear, including rain gear, backpacks, and bags. 

4. PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride)

PVC, short for polyvinyl chloride, is a synthetic, waterproof plastic fabric used for raincoats, boots, shower curtains, and various industrial applications. Whether you're caught in a heavy downpour or working in a wet environment, PVC fabric will keep you dry and shielded from moisture.

5. Wax Cotton

Wax cotton is a traditional fabric that has been treated with wax to enhance its water and wind-resistant properties. A layer of wax is applied onto the fabric, which saturates the fibers and creates a barrier against water. This treatment makes the fabric highly water-repellent, allowing it to shed water droplets and keep you dry in wet conditions. 

6. Neoprene 

Neoprene is a synthetic rubber fabric that is entirely waterproof. It’s a popular fabric used for wetsuits and protective gear. The tightly closed-cell structure of the material prevents water from passing through. This makes it ideal for water sports and activities that involve exposure to wet environments. 

7. Cuben Fiber

Cuben Fiber is a popular and modern material used in outdoor gear. It is also referred to as Dyneema Composite Fabric (DCF). It’s a lightweight, high-strength, waterproof fabric made from ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene fibers. This makes it an ideal choice for gear that requires high performance and durability, such as tents, backpacks, and tarps.

8. Oilcloth

Oilcloth is a versatile and time-tested waterproof fabric made from cotton or linen fabric. This fabric is treated with oil or wax to create a protective layer, allowing it to repel water effectively. It’s best used for tablecloths, aprons, and tote bags.

9. Polyester/Polyurethane Laminates

Polyester/polyurethane laminates, or PUL fabrics, are often used in outdoor gear for their waterproofing and breathability properties. This laminated fabric consists of a polyester base with a polyurethane laminate. It’s a versatile material that is used in outdoor jackets, pants, and footwear.

What is the Strongest Waterproof Material?

When it comes to waterproof materials, strength is an important factor to consider. However, one stands out as a leader in terms of strength and durability: Cuben Fiber.

Cuben Fiber is commonly used for outdoor gear such as tents, backpacks, and tarps, where durability and reliability are essential. It naturally repels water, keeping your gear dry even in heavy rain or wet environments. This combination of strength and waterproofing makes it a preferred choice for outdoor enthusiasts who demand high-performance gear.

How is Waterproof Fabric Made?

So now that you know what waterproof fabrics are out there, let’s look at how these specialized fabrics are made.

One common technique involves the use of membranes. Membranes are waterproof layers bonded to the outer shell of the fabric or product. Waterproof, breathable fabrics typically incorporate two main types of membranes: polyurethane (PU) and expanded polytetrafluoroethylene (ePTFE).

Former president and chairman of W.L. Gore & Associates, Bob Gore, developed ePTFE fabric in 1978. After many failed attempts to stretch the material to yield more product, Gore yanked on the material in frustration. To his surprise, the fabric expanded, forming a waterproof surface with countless tiny pores. 

These pores are about 700 times larger than a water vapor molecule and 20,000 times smaller than a water molecule. This unique size difference allows water vapor to pass through the membrane while preventing liquid water from penetrating it. 

On the other hand, PU-coated fabrics do not possess pores like ePTFE, making it less breathable. Additionally, PU coatings tend to attract water to the surface, a process known as molecular wicking. Consequently, PU membranes may not perform optimally in damp and humid environments. However, manufacturers are working on developing more breathable versions of this fabric.

How to Care for Waterproof Fabrics

Waterproof fabrics are designed to repel water and withstand outdoor conditions. Nevertheless, they still need to be taken care of in order to maintain their effectiveness. Here are some tips on how to care for waterproof fabrics:

  1. Follow the manufacturer's instructions: Always refer to the care instructions provided by the manufacturer for specific guidance on cleaning and maintenance. Different types of waterproof fabrics may have unique care requirements, so it's important to follow the recommended guidelines.
  2. Spot cleaning: For small stains or spills, spot cleaning is often sufficient. Use a mild detergent or soap and a soft brush or cloth to gently scrub the affected area. Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive materials that could damage the fabric's waterproof coating or laminates.
  3. Machine washing: If the care instructions permit machine washing, use a gentle cycle with cold water. Avoid using harsh detergents, bleach, or fabric softeners, as these can compromise the fabric's waterproof properties. To make our products even more functional, our outdoor bean bag covers and bed protectors are washer friendly
  4. Drying: After washing, air drying is generally recommended for waterproof fabrics. Hang the garment or lay it flat on a clean surface in a well-ventilated area. Avoid direct sunlight or high heat sources, as excessive heat can degrade the fabric and its waterproofing capabilities.
  5. Store properly: When not in use, ensure that waterproof items are clean and completely dry before storing them. Moisture can lead to mildew or mold growth, which can damage the fabric. Store items in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight to prevent deterioration.

Remember, regular care and maintenance will help maintain the waterproofing properties of the fabric, ensuring optimal performance and longevity. By following these tips, you can enjoy the full benefits of your waterproof gear and accessories for years to come.

Whether you’re looking for outdoor gear for your next adventure, want to add protection to your cozy bean bag chair, or searching for a waterproof pet bed, CordaRoy’s has just what you need. Don't let moisture hold you back - explore our collection today and discover the perfect waterproof product for your home. 


What is Dyneema? Everything You Need to Know | Gear Patrol

Robert W. Gore | Science History Institute Museum & Library

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