Waterproofing is a unique process by which a structure or object can be made water-resistant or impervious to water penetration. Waterproofing has many uses, and one of them is fabric waterproofing. These kinds of fabrics are made by coating an impermeable layer at the top or below the cloth.
Water cannot pass directly through it, but water vapor can. As a result, you will be protected from external rain or water rush. Not all fabrics are waterproof, but you can make all fabrics waterproof. In this article, we will look at the different types of waterproofing and what methods are used to make fabric waterproof.
Types Of Waterproofing
There are several types of waterproofing. For example, a waterproof membrane will be bonded to the underside of the outer layer of fabric (often referred to as the face fabric), or a liquid solution will be coated on the fabric’s interior. You can also apply a DWR treatment to the fabric’s exterior in such a case.
Instead of laminate, a waterproof coating made of Polyurethane (PU) is applied to the inside of the fabric. The most well-known waterproof coating is probably HyVent (used by North Face).
A coated waterproof fabric is generally less durable and less breathable than a membrane waterproof.
The most well-known laminates are Gore-Tex and eVent. A membrane or laminate is typically made of ePTFE (expanded Polytetrafluoroethylene, Teflon) or PU (Polyurethane). Garments use this kind of protection inside of the face fabric.
The membrane will be made up of tiny holes that are too small to allow water in, but water vapor can escape through it. Because oil, sweat, and chemicals can cause PTFE membranes to lose their ability to keep water out, the membrane is protected by an ultra-thin layer of Polyurethane or another oleophobic (oil-hating) treatment.
Separate fabric liners are usually mesh-made and stitched to the inside of a two-layer jacket. But the membrane layers are usually sewn between the face fabric and the liner in a three-layer jacket.
Durable Water Repellency/DWR
A DWR (durable water repellency) coating will be applied outside a fabric. Water can’t cover a fabric that has been treated with a DWR.
When water imbues a jacket or trouser’s outer layer rather than repelling it, this is referred to as a ‘wet out.’ This is usually an indication that the DWR needs to be repaired. In addition, dirt, oil, and abrasion can degrade the DWR over time, requiring it to be reapplied to ensure the garment’s performance.
A DWR is frequently used with a waterproof membrane to improve the garment’s waterproof and breathable properties. A jacket with only a DWR and no waterproof membrane will be less expensive than a membrane jacket, but it will not be suitable for conditions where heavy rain is expected.
We already have a general idea about the types of waterproofing. In this section, we will see different waterproofing methods and procedures. Before you apply waterproofing to your clothing, you can think about several facts like – how long you want this to be waterproof, how much water exposure you can handle, and your clothing style. Keeping all these facts in mind, you can DIY your apparel. You don’t have to worry about getting wet in the rain or getting caught by sweat fever. It will also protect you from oil and dirt. You can also clean the cloth with relative ease.
Spray & Seam Sealers
Waterproofing sprays are sensitive to humidity. Make sure to wash your apparel and get it completely dry. If the fabric is not washable and lightweight, brush it or use a vacuum. If the fabric is heavy, there are specially formulated fabric cleaners that you can use. Then apply the sprays or sealers on your dry cloth. This will only work as a water-repelling layer if your fabric is dry because the stray sealer can stick on a wet cloth.
Hold your spray bottle 6/8 inch far from the cloth and spray it thoroughly. Then, let it dry and spray again. Then let it dry again, which will take 3-5 hours. The drying duration varies from brand to brand, so don’t forget to read the instructions behind/below the bottle.
Make the spraying or sealing on a well-ventilated area, and wear goggles, gloves, and aprons if you have a terrible allergy. Also, wear a mask because the sprays and sealers don’t have a good smell. If you want your fabric to be protected from the sun also, you can use UV protection which will keep your fabric safe from fading. Spraying or sealing works great on nylon, leather, and canvas.
Making a fabric waterproof with the wash-in method is easy. However, you need a clean cloth to use this method. So first, get a mixture ready of 2 gallons of hot water with 1 pound of laundry detergent in a big container that can submerge all your fabrics. Then, put your clothes in the water and wait till the fabric soaks the water completely. Then, hang your fabrics to air-dry in the sun. Try to use a hanger in one layer, so both sides of the fabric get aired out properly.
Then take 1/2 pound alum powder and 2-gallon hot water in another container. Let the alum powder dissolve completely. Put your recently-dried clothes in the mixture and wait for 2 hours at least. Make sure that every section of your fabric is soaked in the mixture. Then, hang the fabric freely with a hanger.
Turpentine And Soybean Oil
Soybean or turpentine is a type of oil that can also be used for waterproofing. When you use these to make cloth waterproof, your cloth will naturally turn black. So, for this waterproofing method, choose a black fabric so that it does not get discolored.
Clean and dry your fabric first. This method will not work if the fabric is not dry. Then go to a dry and ventilated place. Then mix 4 ounces of turpentine with one cup of soybean oil. Place the cloth on a plastic tablecloth, then apply the mixture on your cloth using a brush. Try to paint each part of the cloth and overlap if necessary. Then dry the cloth.
Iron-on vinyl is excellent for waterproofing. It doesn’t change the look of the clothing and protects the fabric. You can use this method for waterproofing lunch bags and baby bibs. First, wash your cloth and dry it, then lay it on a flat surface and iron it so there are no wrinkles or ripples on the cloth. Now cut the vinyl according to the cloth and set it over. Now, use a paperback to prevent the vinyl from melting while ironing. Use the iron on medium heat, and don’t keep the iron in one place for too long.
Rubbing Wax Onto Fabric
You can wash and dry the cloth you want to waterproof with the wax method. First, buy a natural wax bar from a general store near your home. Then heat the cloth and wax bar – both with a hairdryer and dry in the sun for 15 minutes. Rub the wax well on each part of your fabric.
Parts of the wax will stick to the fabric folds and form another waterproof layer on top. Then after waxing the whole fabric, heat it with a light hairdryer. This will improve the finish of your clothes. Lastly, store your clothes in a dry place for 24 hours. This method works best with shoes and bags.
Although there are many waterproofing methods, most people use the wash-in and spray method more because the materials are easily available, and there is less hassle. This method also maintains the color and quality of the fabric. Try to use a separate UV protection layer, this will keep the color of your clothes sound. If you are a frequent camper or adventurer, these waterproofing methods will come in handy.
William Arrovo seeks thrills and laughter in everything he comes across. He is a fun loving person with a zest of exploring the breathtaking places around the globe. He feels content in sharing his experiences of travelling to various countries. He is grateful about enriching himself with a myriad of cultures and rejuvenating his soul while staying outdoors.