Waterproof Fabrics: Types, Manufacture, and Benefits


Table of Contents

After Charles Mackintosh created waterproof clothing, the manufacture of waterproof fabrics has become widespread: many companies are manufacturing popular products.

Using synthetic and natural yarns, manufacturers weave canvases, produce a wide variety of products: raincoats, backpacks, pants, umbrellas, tents, awnings, curtains. Such products are convenient to use, reliable in protection against precipitation, environmentally friendly, durable, affordable.

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Purpose and Use

Without water, life on Earth is not possible. At the same time, direct prolonged contact with moisture is often not only unpleasant but also harmful. This statement is relevant for people who in wet clothes feel discomfort, moreover, after a long stay in it they often get sick.

A long stay in the water of many products is unacceptable: they lose their heat-insulating properties / oxidize, rust / damp, become moldy, rot. This trouble can be avoided with a waterproof fabric, which is a reliable insulating material. The inventor of the first waterproof canvas is considered to be the Scot Charles Mackintosh, known worldwide for his rubberized raincoat.

Useful advice! When choosing clothes from waterproof material, you need to consider many nuances. The finished product should not only protect from the aquatic environment. It must “breathe”, be harmless and resistant to various loads.

Waterproof fabrics have a wide range of applications. Of these, overalls, raincoats, jackets, shoes that are used in rainy weather are sewn. Waterproof clothing is popular with tourists, fishermen, mushroom pickers and hunters. Workwear is created for workers in the gas, oil and chemical industries.

Raincoats from waterproof fabrics are sewn for sailors and border guards. Such materials are irreplaceable in the manufacture of canopies, tents, backpacks, covers, umbrellas, bags. Awnings can be seen on cars, exhibition halls, outdoor cafe venues. Cloths for upholstery of garden furniture and yacht seats, production of folding beds and deck chairs are in demand. Materials are also bought for curtains with tablecloths for use on terraces.

hunter Waterproof suit

Types of Waterproof Fabric and Coating

The modern market is rich in waterproof fabrics, which are rubberized, membrane, treated with different impregnations. Many companies are engaged in their manufacture, each of which produces canvases of its own design. To create materials, natural, combined and synthetic raw materials are used.

Depending on the production technology, products are woven using different methods. Based on the above factors, the tissues can be divided among themselves according to many criteria. But the most complete list of species is consistent with proprietary names.


Cloak membrane product of high strength. It does not let water in, removes sweat out. It has a porous structure. It consists of thick and thin threads intertwined in a special way. The assortment also includes nylon fabrics.


It is created from nylon and polyester. Depending on the purpose, the fabric is both thin and elastic, so thick and stiff. It is popular in the manufacture of durable awnings.


Distinctive features: tactile softness and shiny surface. Available in different densities. Sometimes there is a white water-repellent layer on the back. Polyester is used in its production.


Synthetic fabric is based on polyamide. It has a matte sheen and softness. For the production of clothing, the WR model is used. Water-repellent impregnation is applied to the front side of this wear-resistant material.


Production materials – nylon and polyester: the first is characterized by high water resistance. Flags are sewn from thin canvases, and lanterns and garlands are also created. From thick copies are made jackets, raincoats, and sweatpants.

Useful advice! Membrane waterproof fabrics are very popular among athletes, climbers, rescuers. The reason is simple: sweating out, the canvases withstand rainfall with the wind of almost any power. But the products have one weak point: with careless washing, the pores are irrevocably clogged. The conclusion is obvious: before leaving, you need to carefully read the instructions.

In the manufacture of waterproof fabrics, various impregnations are used. Thanks to them, layers are formed on the surfaces that enhance the protective functions. Different coatings have different properties. Therefore, in each case, the most suitable substance is applied, forming a rubberized, polyamide or polyurethane layer.

Table. Brief information on moisture-proof coatings.

Name of waterproof coatingCoverage Summary
Polyurethane (PU)Arranges from the inside. When marking after PU, numbers are indicated that indicate the degree of water resistance in mm of vertical load. With a value of up to 1500, the protection level is low, with a figure of 300 the canvas can withstand heavy rains.
Polyurethane (PU milky)Impregnation, the task of which is to increase the rigidity of the material. After application, the product is strengthened, while becoming less transparent.
Polyurethane (PU / SI)Polyurethane in combination with silicone has enhanced strength characteristics. Effectively resists moisture, does not allow the latter to accumulate in the fibers. It is applied both on the front side and on the wrong side.
Polyamide (PA)The peculiarity of the polyamide layer: air transmission is minimized.
Water Repellent (WR / WDR)In a fabric with such an impregnation, water is not absorbed: it simply rolls at an oblique angle. The coating is arranged on the canvas from the front side. Since the impregnation is washed off over time, special requirements are imposed on the care. Kits for tourists are sewn from material with such a coating – from clothes to tents.  
Rubberized (PVC)The layer is applied to various products from the inside. Rubberized fabric is waterproof, fireproof and resistant to chemicals. Impregnation is used in extreme equipment and overalls with increased requirements.

Manufacturing Technology of Waterproof Fabric

The production of high-quality waterproof products involves two stages. On the first of them, waterproof material is created, on the second, tailoring is performed, in which the technical and operational characteristics must remain at the same level: needle punctures when connecting joints should not violate the integrity of the fabric. The fabric itself is made of threads of different origin:

  • natural (from flax, cotton, jute);
  • artificial (from nylon, nylon, lavsan, polyester);
  • combined (natural and synthetic).

Threads are joined into fabric by twill (diagonal) weaving. After its implementation, numerous diagonal scars form on the surface of the canvas. It is thanks to them that water is not physically able to overcome its surface tension and penetrate the fiber structure.

Useful advice! When choosing a product from a waterproof fabric, moisten the product along the connecting seam (in a small area). If the water does not leak deep, but collects in drops and rolls off the surface, then a jacket, backpack or tent can be bought.

When sewing waterproof clothing, numerous thread connections are created. They should not only ensure the strength of the product but also guarantee the tightness of the mating parts. Typically, a task is performed by several methods: welded, thread-hot glue, thread-welded.

In the case of rubber goods, a different method is used: thermoplastic adhesive tapes are applied to the seams. They are made from a combination of zinc stearate, polyurethane, dibutyl phthalate, vinyl, polyethylene, and polyvinyl chloride resin. Bonding is carried out on machines using a special paste when applying hot gas in the form of a jet.

There is another way, which consists in impregnating the area with a seam or shuttle thread hydrophobic technological solution.

production of waterproof fabric
Weaving crisscross fabric on air-jet looms in a textile weaving unit.


The main property of waterproof materials is the repulsion of moisture from their surfaces. It is provided by twill weaving, a porous membrane structure, rubberization and (or) application of various coatings by impregnation. Of course, for the full-fledged operation of water repulsion is not enough, so manufacturers according to the requirements endow materials with other positive properties.


Waterproof fabrics, as a rule, are much stronger than ordinary textile materials. Tearing them without a cut is not easy. This is especially true for high-density models.

Resistance to wear

Cloths intended, for example, for a backpack are difficult to wipe / thin / wear in one or two seasons, even in harsh hiking conditions.

Heat resistance

Many products retain their properties over a wide temperature range – from –50 to +110 ° С. In the cold, they do not tan, in the heat they do not creep.

Keeping shape

Materials that are intended for canopies often withstand large vertical loads. Being well-made, they do not sag over time but remain flat.

Dirt repellent abilities

Due to the special weaving and the impregnating layer, the dirt does not stick to the surface, does not penetrate into the fibers, but easily floats off, falls off, and is cleaned.


This item is important primarily for clothing. She must breathe: sweat must evaporate out through the pores of the material.


Most yarns used are easily dyed. Over time, after ultraviolet light / several pieces of washing, the paintings do not fade but retain their presentation.


Increased requirements are imposed on waterproof fabrics, so most of them serve for a long time. The specificity, in this case, depends on the name of the product, brand, purpose, frequency of use and washing.

Care Features

Care for waterproof fabric has its own characteristics. Clothing made of such material is not recommended to be washed frequently. It is better to do this in the machine of the same name: the mode is set sparing, the temperature, as a rule, is set – from +30 to +40 ° С.

It is forbidden to use bleach: it will ruin any waterproof cloth. In case of slight contamination, cleaning with a sponge and a soap solution is advisable.

It is allowed to iron products, and in compliance with the rule: the higher the content of natural threads, the more you can heat the iron. To jacket, overalls or tent lasted as long as possible, pre-read instructions for the care of the goods.

Let’s have look at some of the waterproof pants;

MountainSkin Unisex Waterproof Pants

Waterproof Pants

Waterproof pants


There is a huge difference between waterproof and water repellent fabric. So, make sure to know the difference between these two things before purchasing any essential item for your travel.


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