Water-Resistant vs. Waterproof Marine Vinyl Fabric

You’ve definitely heard the terms water-resistant and waterproof before. You probably think these are interchangeable terms, but in reality, the terms are mean two completely different things. In marine textiles, this can make a world of difference in the quality, durability, and longevity in your boat’s fabrics including covers, enclosures, and furniture.

Let’s break this down and define the two terms. according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, these are what the terms mean:

  • Waterproof: “impervious to water.”
  • Water-Resistant: “designed to not be easily harmed or affected by water or to not allow water to pass through easily.”

As you can see, water-resistant textiles are not ideal for use in marine fabrics; you want your boat to be protected from the water completely. If you’re thinking about boat enclosures or material for your boat’s seats, upholstery, and other onboard furniture, then you want to use a waterproof marine vinyl fabric. Why? Because using textiles that are impervious to water protects your boat’s fabrics from mold and mildew and other water damage. Thus, your boat will look good longer, and you won’t have to worry about replacing your fabrics so quickly.

When you’re choosing a specialty fabric for your boat, it’s important to remember that a waterproof product is better for marine use than water-resistant. Your passengers will appreciate the dry seats and the protection they have with the waterproof fabric. If you’re wondering which waterproof fabric to go with, here are a couple of good options:

  • Expanded Vinyl: This material (also known as PVC - polyvinyl chloride) is commonly used in marine fabric upholstery like seats and cushions. It resists mildew, mold, and can be coated with antimicrobial chemicals. It’s a cost-effective choice for marine fabrics, and can also be made waterproof.  
  • Vinyl and Polyester Composite: The composite fabric stays tight on the frame and can be made completely waterproof. Herculite Inc. offers this composite fabric in two choices: Riviera and Regatta. Herculite’s vinyl and polyester composites are UV ray resistant, mildew- and fire resistant.

Keep in mind, the type of textile you use for your boat’s upholstery and other onboard fabrics should be designed to last and withstand the elements. When you choose your marine fabric, also consider what type of water you sail on: Fresh or Salt. This can help you choose the right material for your boat. Not all marine fabrics are created equally and doing your research can help you save in the long run on replacement and repair costs of textiles that don’t stand up to the rigors of use.

You’re the captain and steering your boat in the right direction also means taking care of its upholstery and other marine fabrics. When you talk to your manufacturer or supplier, be sure to inquire about waterproof marine fabrics and make sure you’re not getting a water-resistant textile; remember, the two terms mean two completely different things.

For more information about waterproof marine vinyl fabric products, feel free to visit us at www.herculite.com/marine-fabrics.


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