Waterproof fabric can either be a natural fabric or a synthetic fabric. The thing which makes it waterproof is a coating which is applied to the fabric in order to make it repel water. There are several different chemical coatings which can be used to waterproof fabric but the most common ones include polyurethane and polyvinyl chloride.
In order to ensure that waterproof fabric is in fact waterproof, it is usually put through rigorous testing before being sold. This tends to occur in a lab where industry standards are applied to the testing of just how water repellent a piece of waterproof fabric actually is.
Once the testing has taken place, then the waterproof fabric will be given a rating which tells the customer exactly how waterproof the fabric is. If for example, a piece of waterproof fabric is rated 10K, this will mean that it will stay waterproof when exposed to up to 10,000 millimetres of rain. Most waterproof fabric will be rated between 5 and 10k but some more specialist waterproof clothing and equipment may be found with a rating of 20k which is excellent.
How it Works
The way in which waterproof fabric is able to repel water is fairly simple. The fabric is made up of millions of pores which are much smaller than a raindrop but which are also many times larger than a water vapour molecule. This means that liquid cannot permeate the fabric but, moisture and heat which is released from the body is able to escape, so that it is comfortable for the wearer to have on a waterproof garment for a long period of time.
The most common use of waterproof fabric is in the construction of waterproof garments such as raincoats, waterproof trousers and hiking gear. However, waterproof fabric can also be used to manufacture shower curtains, tablecloths, umbrellas and much more.
Waterproof fabric will retain its protection against liquids for a very long time, but eventually, they may begin to lose their effectiveness if they are used a lot. If this is the case, it is possible to buy a spray to recoat them and bring them back to life.
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