How to correctly distinguish your customer requirements are water-repellent fabrics or waterproof fabrics? How to avoid stepping in pits?

       As a fabric supplier, we often receive orders from customers. They ask for waterproof fabrics. Then we provide samples of waterproof fabrics. Then they send me pictures to prove that the fabrics are not “Waterproof.” After I check the photos, I know what my customer’s requirement is not waterproof but water-repellent.

     So how do you know what your customer really wants? What’s the difference between “water-repellent” and “waterproof“.


    Water-repellent, also known as W/R. Water-repellent refers to the hydrophobic compound deposited on the fabric’s surface. Fabric surface with pores, air and vapor can pass through. General water will form water droplets (like lotus leaf). W/R will reduce the water by the fabric adsorption, so that water can be in the fabric surface “Push off.” Water stays long but enters inside at last.

     The waterproof process with various chemical materials on the fabric surface attached to a thin layer of “Needle bed.” The fabric surface tension is less than the cohesion of water. Water drops fall will form a beadroll away, rather than spread wet. If this layer of “Needle-bed” structure is flattened or oil-covered infiltration, the fabric of waterproof ability will be significantly reduced or even began to absorb water. The waterproof effect of the fabric will gradually weaken with washing and long-term use, or even failure.

    So, if you go out in the rain wearing water-repellent clothing, you can quickly shake off the surface of the rain-drops. But whether the clothes inside will get wet depends on the amount of rain and how long you stay in the rain, water repellent is not waterproof.


     Waterproof, in this case, means waterproof and moisture-permeable fabric. The technical is divided into coating and lamination. The coating refers to PU coating, and lamination refers to compound TPU, PU, or TNFF membrane.

     The vast majority of waterproof fabrics are laminated (film) materials and capsule fibers, tight-knit fabrics, silicification, and other forms of processing, and is usually located in the lining of the fabric, which is often referred to as the “Waterproof film.”.


      The waterproof membrane is very useful in functional garments. Fabric combines membrane by pasting. The fabric is not waterproof, so when we wear waterproof clothing in the rain, we can see the water seeping into the clothing. It’s like a regular fabric garment, but the inside of the garment is dry, and that’s where the waterproof membrane in the middle of the composite fabric comes in.


     “Water-resistant” is expressed in terms of water pressure resistance. A fixed area of tarpaulin blocks the constant rising water pressure, and the water pressure resistance of the fabric is measured when the third drop of water oozes from the surface. The essential waterproof capacity is usually reached above 1000MMH2O.

The functional distinction between them

  1. Waterproof/Water-resistant products are more durable, physically and chemical property stable than water-repellent /WR products.
  2. Waterproof/water-resistant products usually do not fail due to washing and prolonged use.
  3. The waterproof/water-resistant product has a higher anti-water pressure index than the waterproof product, usually at least 3000mmH2O.
  4. The “water-repellent/WR” is to reduce the adsorption of water on the fabric surface. The effect of water drop on the lotus leaf. “Waterproof/water-resistant” is an entirely impervious moisture barrier. Regardless of whether the fabric is absorbent or not, it keeps the water out.

     Understand the really requests of customers, we can service our customers more accurately. I hope these tips are helpful!This is Liz from Bolong Textile.


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