Waterproofing is the process by which particular items and materials are rendered impervious to water. Depending on the fabric and purpose of this action, there are different waterproofing materials that you can use.
What are the common types of waterproofing materials? If you want to make clothing items waterproof, you can use waterproofing sprays for outdoor gear, wax, or a special clothing wash and repellent detergent.
If you want to waterproof your house, buildings, and other structural elements, you can use tar paper, liquid roofing, EPDM rubber, waterproofing paint, silicon-based waterproofing solutions, orvelastomeric liquid membrane products.
I’ve divided this guide into three parts: clothes, buildings, and consumer electronics.
Let’s dive right in and see what waterproofing materials you can use for each of these categories.
Here’s what you’ll find in this article:
- Materials used for waterproofing clothes
- Materials used for waterproofing buildings
- Materials used for wall waterproofing
- Materials for waterproofing consumer electronics
Materials used for waterproofing clothes
Water-repellent clothes are made of special waterproof fabrics of natural or synthetic origin. These fabrics are also coated with a special waterproofing material such as rubber, polyvinyl chloride, polyurethane, silicone elastomer, wax, and other types of materials.
Fabrics are treated with waterproofing solutions during the manufacturing process as well as after manufacture.
Perhaps the most popular waterproof material used in clothes is Gore-Tex. It can repel water and other liquids but it’s also lightweight enough to be used in outdoor jackets and trekking shoe manufacture.
Gore-Tex fabric is made of five layers of materials: a soft inner liner, a first layer of protective material, the Gore-Tex membrane itself, a second layer of protective material, and an abrasion-resistant outer shell.
The Gore-Tex membrane is made of a porous fluoropolymer (Teflon) coating bonded to the fabric and has 1.4 billion pores per square centimeter.
Water droplets cannot penetrate this layer as each pore is 1/20,000 the size of a water droplet.
The outer layer is coated with a Durable Water Repellent (DWR) solution. Its role is to prevent the main layer from becoming wet.
It is worth mentioning that the DWR layer is not responsible for the material being waterproof. It only protects the main Gore-Tex membrane from external water and mechanical damage.
The most common waterproofing solution used for clothes, including Gore-Tex, is a waterproofing spray.
Waterproofing spray for clothes
This is the most convenient and cheap waterproofing solution for clothes. There are many reliable waterproofing spray products available on the market. They are suitable for most fabrics, from cotton to denim.
One quick note: make sure to apply the spray in an open environment, ideally in your backyard or balcony, not inside the house.
However, if you don’t have this possibility, make sure all the windows are wide open. Waterproofing spray is toxic and you need to apply it in an well-ventilated space.
Here are some of the best waterproofing spray products that you can use for clothes:
- Granger’s Down Wash & Performance Repel Waterproofing Spray
- Nikwax TX.Direct Spray-On Waterproofing
- Scotchgard Heavy-Duty Water Shield
Wash and repellent detergent
If you don’t like the idea of using a waterproofing spray, you can use a wash and repellent detergent instead.
You can use these products to safely wash your waterproof clothing and repair the water-repellent coating if it has been damaged.
I have used the Grangers Clothing Wash and Repel detergent and I highly recommend it.
I don’t always have the time to clean and proof my gear separately and this 2-in-1 product has been of real help to me.
Waterproof your clothes with wax
A third solution that you can use is a bar of wax. This method takes a lot more time and work than the two other methods listed above and requires using a hairdryer.
If you want to learn more about using wax to waterproof your clothes, you can read this guide on how to waterproof your T-shirts.
Materials used for waterproofing buildings
Now, let’s dive into the second part of this article and see what materials you can use to waterproof your house and other structural elements.
Materials used for roof waterproofing
Tar paper is made of paper or fiberglass mat impregnated with tar. It is one of the most popular solutions for waterproofing roofs due to its relatively low cost.
It is often used as an underlayment with wood, shake, and other shingles as it is not very wind- or sun-resistant by itself. You can buy it in rolls of various thicknesses.
You can install tar paper as staples, roofing nails, or in multiple layers with hot asphalt and other adhesives.
Roofing felt is somewhat similar to tar paper. It’s made of two layers: the first layer is made of polymer reinforced with glass fibers.
The top layer is made of mineral granules. Both layers are encapsulated in a bituminous mixture.
Felt paper is used beneath other building materials providing a secondary weather protection layer.
A polyurethane-based waterproofing liquid is another solution for waterproofing your roof. The product comes in the form of an elastic liquid that forms an abrasive coating after it has dried.
It successfully penetrates the cracks in wood or concrete roofs, hardening the outer surface and making it more thermal and UV resistant.
Materials used for wall waterproofing
The walls of your bathroom and basement should be waterproofed. This is because there is a high moisture concentration in the respective areas which may damage the walls in time.
Some of the most efficient materials for waterproofing walls include:
- cast stone with waterproof mortar
- ceramic wall tile
- waterproof cement
- glass panels (however the risk of accidentally breaking them is pretty high
- veneer stone with waterproof grout
- polyethylene sheeting
- concrete waterproofing coating
- silicate-based concrete sealer
- waterproofing paint
- waterproofing plaster.
Materials for waterproofing consumer electronics
If you need to make your gadgets waterproof, there are quite a few materials and methods you can use.
How to waterproof my phone? You can make your phone water-resistant by placing it in a waterproof pouch, using a waterproof phone case or a liquid-glass screen protection solution.
Keep in mind that these solutions will only make your phone water-resistant or water-repellent, not fully waterproof. Avoid getting your phone wet in the first place to prevent hardware water damage.
How to waterproof circuit boards?
You can easily waterproof circuit boards with silicone. Apply a layer of silicone over the hardware components that you want to water seal and wait until the silicone has dried up.
You can also use epoxy instead but you need to be quick as this solution dries up in under 5 minutes.
There are plenty of materials that you can use for waterproofing purposes. Whether you need to waterproof your rain jacket, basement walls, or your smartphone, there are many types of materials that you can utilize.
If you want to waterproof your clothes, you can do that by yourself using the products listed above. However, if you need to waterproof your house roof or bathroom walls, I suggest getting help from professionals.
They can correctly assess your needs and identify the best possible waterproofing materials to use for optimum results.
What is the most waterproof material?
The most super-hydrophobic material was created by a team of MIT researchers by adding tiny ridges to a silicon surface. In this manner, the liquid mass is redistributed and the drop hydrodynamic is altered so that water drops simply bounce back.
This material is made of short-chain polymers and a coating called iCVD.
You can read more about this super waterproof material in MIT News.
What is waterproof cement?
Waterproof cement is a special type of cement in which a water-repellent agent has been added. Usually, this is Cementmix, a special fluid that replaces water and connects all the particles in the cement so as to repel water.
Is nylon waterproof or water-resistant?
Nylon is not waterproof. It absorbs water due to the hydrogen bonds present in its microscopic structure. However, nylon is used as a base material for many water-repellent products.
An external water-resistant coating is added to make these items water-repellent.
If you’ve got any questions or suggestions, feel free to comment below. Tell me what waterproofing materials you’ve used for your DIY projects.
Last updated: July 2023.