When it comes to industrial grade fabrics for shade and outdoor projects, not all of them are the same. Some are designed to withstand the elements and some are not as well equipped. Projects that are designed for environments where rain and moisture are prominent – like in Seattle or Portland – requires textiles that are water resistant.
But what does water resistant really mean? Surprisingly, water resistant fabrics are different than waterproof textiles. In fact, the two terms mean different things. Let’s break it down:
- Waterproof: This means that water can’t penetrate the fabric. However, this means it is not breathable. Fabrics should have a level of breathability, especially in the boating industry. See below for more about this.
- Water Resistant: A fabric that is water resistant means that it repels water from the surface of the textile. However, this doesn’t mean it’s completely waterproof; there’s a reason for this. In boating and marine industry fabric applications, water resistant fabrics are important because breathability in a fabric allows it to dry and keep mold and mildew from growing. When a fabric is not breathable that means moisture can get trapped. A waterproof fabric is not breathable the way a water-resistant fabric is. Water resistant fabrics are great for boat covers and other applications that require the textile to be breathable.
Now that you know the difference between water resistant and waterproof fabrics, here’s a quick list of why it’s important to have water resistance in your fabric projects:
- Prevents Damage: Water can damage any fabric. Water resistance allows the fabric to repel moisture and keep the fabric from degrading. This is important for outdoor projects like awnings and tents.
- Helps Prevent Mold & Mildew Growth: Moisture is a breeding ground for mold and mildew. Once your fabric starts growing these unsightly, damaging microbes, it’s hard to get the textile back to its former glory and you might be looking at replacement costs. In marine/boating fabrics, this is why water resistance is so important. Boats and other watercraft are exposed to water and moisture that can get trapped when covered or in storage and cause mold and mildew growth.
- Breathability: This is an important aspect of water resistant fabrics. Breathability allows for a boat cover or other specialty textile to dry and help prevent damage to the fabric and growth of mold or mildew.
If you have questions about whether to use water resistant or waterproof fabrics for your next project, contact your local textile supplier or your manufacturer for more information. Or, let us know how we can help you by visiting us at www.vaughanbros.com or giving us a call at 1-800-444-4701.