What to Consider
How to Measure Product Waterproofness
Categories of Waterproof Materials
Types of Waterproof Fabrics
Types of Membranes
Characteristics of Waterproof Materials
Tips for Choosing the Best Waterproof Materials
Waterproofing is a process where a particular objects or materials are treated with differently, or they are made out of materials or structure which makes it water resistant or water repelling. Materials can be different and in general, they are covered with a protective layer to prevent the water from going through.
There is no 100% waterproof material. Water will go through any surface at a time and with enough pressure. As all of the materials and surfaces will eventually get water inside, there is a set standard which can tell how good the material is and how water resistant is.
Waterproof and water repelling materials are not the same, and they have different qualities and features. If the material is water repellent, it means the liquid will not stay on the surface, but in case it stays on it penetrate much easier. Some materials like nylon are more likely to be waterproof, and some like cotton, have a low waterproof and water resistance ability.
For a better understanding how good the material is, no matter of purpose, there are standard set numbers which can help determine how good waterproof or water repellent material is.
How water proof is it really? There are several parameters you can check on the label to understand how much waterproofness the product can offer.
Categories of waterproof materials. There are several categories you have to consider before choosing the right one for yourself.
Types of fabric. You need to understand whether or not you need a breathable or non-breathable fabric.
Tips – learn as much as you can about waterproof fabric in order not to make the wrong purchase.
PSI - When looking to buy a waterproof product always look for PSI number. Water resistant standards are established in the laboratory environment, and they are known as PSI (Pounds Per Square Inch). This is the most common used way to determine the material is waterproof. This method is created in the laboratory in Leeds.
mm/24hours - this means how much water or rainfall in 24 hours on a particular surface can be present before it goes through the fabric. It is the less used method and it is measured in millimeters.
Higher the number means the higher water resistance - Most of the water resistant fabrics can handle 3-5 PSI of pressure. The most popular water resistant material is Gore-Tex, and it can stand up to 40 PSI.
Categorizing - The fabric is categorized as waterproof if it can provide a high level of water resistance.
Breathable Coated Membranes with Polyurethane Coating . This kind of materials should have:
• A thin layer of water resin usually is added at the factory
• water resin material is placed inside of a garment fabric
• this step is done at the very beginning of production
• Sprayed with Polyurethane. Polyurethane prevents moisture and water from going through the fabric.
DWR is Durable Water Repellent. The second type of waterproofing materials:
• Needs to have a protective form or laminate membrane applied to the material.
• DWR is not completely waterproof, needs to be combined with other materials
• helps to reduce water condensation, improves airflow and moisture to evaporate - more breathable
DWR is a layer added to fabrics, and that combination of DWR and other waterproof membranes like Gore-TEX are making a fabric waterproof. DWR is fluoropolymer based.
• Protective layer will need to be reapplied again. This type of protection has to be treated with care as it can be removed easily. With the time a protective layer can disappear, and it is necessary to apply it again. That way a fabric life will be extended and can be used again.
• DWR is used to increase the breathability of fabrics not to help make it waterproof.
• DWR is used with materials like Gore-Tex to improve breathability.
Non-Breathable - this kind of material is not allowing an air flow. It protects the fabric from water; however, it will not allow moisture to evaporate on a natural way. Non Breathable fabrics are not recommended for intense and extreme sports conditions. This type of material is recommended for extreme wet conditions. It will keep the water out, but internal moisture will not be able to go out also. It is good for larger pieces of equipment that need to be protected from water.
Key features are:
• not breathable
• suitable for extreme conditions
• good for equipment like fishing boots or diving suits.
Breathable - this type of fabric allows airflow between materials. It is a great type of fabric for extreme sports.
• blocks the water- has a high PSI
• allows airflow - body temperature can stay natural in extreme weather conditions and skin airflow will keep the body fresh all the time
• allows the body moisture to evaporate
It is suitable for making equipment for climbing or cycling or any other extreme sport. It is an excellent choice for sports clothes which is meant to be used in extreme conditions. For example in the cold area.
For both of the types, there is a formula to measure how much the fabric is efficient and waterproof. The formula is g/m2/24hours. This means it measures how many grams of water has been on the material surface in one square meter in 24 hours. Producers will have different names but most of the times they have similar feature written;
• best suited for low/high activity
• limited breathability
• PU used inside of fabric
Layer types are most important part of waterproofing. If the membrane is not good quality, the fabric will not be waterproof in total. The best layer type is, the better quality of the waterproof material is.
Gore-Tex is the most popular type of waterproof material. This is a type of laminate and membrane in one. This means that waterproof membrane is also protected with a layer of DRW and it will repel the water at the same time.
If the goal is to get something with high waterproof resistance than a similar type of production should be used.
Gore-Tex has a membrane, and this membrane is bonded with other fabrics. This creates the laminate. The membrane itself has small pores and allows airflow. Pores are microscopic size, and they can’t be visible. This will not allow water is going in, but it will allow breathability of the fabric.
GoreTex is not used just for clothing. It is used for high-quality waterproof shoes, tents, bags and other types of equipment. This is the most preferred type of waterproof fabric.
Event - This kind of membrane is also made of small pores, and they keep the water out and allow the airflow. This is the high breathable membrane. Pores type and way of production are similar to GoreTex. They have the similar set of quality. Choosing any of the two is a smart choice. It requires a regular cleaning to keep the pores clean. In chance pores are clogged with oil or dirt, the efficiency of the eVent will be less and with the time it will lose the ability to protect from the water. It is popular with extreme sports users like snowboarding or other wet and extreme sports.
Polartec Neoshell - This type of a membrane has a spun construction. It is made out of strands, and they are connected and in a shape of floss. Not like previous two, this type does not have pores, and it works in a different way. It is waterproof and breathable. Also, it is made with PU laminate
Paremo - The High breathable material, it is designed in a way it moves the moisture, not just the water vapor. Producers have decided to imitate animal fur and skin and copy the natural water protection and breathability with artificial materials. It keeps the body temperature and airflow. It is made out of two layers. Frist one protects from the water and the second one allows airflow.
High breathability - normal airflow is crucial and necessary for the materials to breath, and keep the existing qualities
High PSI number - the higher the number is, the better protection is.
• for mid range fabrics, the minimum value is 50000 mm
• best materials have a value of 20 000mm
• waterproof fabric should have a result over a 1000mm
Membrane Type - A membrane made out of Gore-Tex or other similar materials- suitable membrane means excellent water protection.
Good waterproof materials have a high score on PSI scale. Looking for breathable materials is good. Breathable material means good airflow.
Look for the combination of DWR materials and other waterproof types and membranes.
It is paramount to keep clean the fabric.
Body oils, dust, and dirt can weaken the fabric. With the time, the waterproof fabric will lose the ability to repel the water. Using recommended products such as Nikwax is good. This product provides a DWR layer. Also, another recommended product is Grangers Extreme Wash In.
The best way to use it is after the wash. A product like Nikwax or Extreme Wash needs to be applied. The amount should be small and after the application, fabric needs to be treated with heat. Best thing to use would be an iron, tumble dryer.
It is not recommended to use detergents as they can damage the membrane.
Sofa and chair protection
Sport equipment protection
Construction work, such as roofing, siding, and foundations or decking jobs