Polypropylene fabric is plastic-based and is a material that’s useful for a broad range of projects. When looking for the right type of fabric to use, or if you are looking to buy something made from polypropylene, you need to consider its properties.
So, is polypropylene waterproof? Polypropylene fabric is generally waterproof and can offer some resistance to water. How waterproof the fabric is depends on how it is made and the finishes it is given. Some finishes make polypropylene more waterproof than others, so this is something you would need to look for.
There are certainly a few waterproof polypropylene fabrics available, so if you are needing them for a project that requires waterproof qualities, then you can definitely find the right polypropylene fabric.
Read on to find out more about how waterproof polypropylene is, and how you could properly use it.
What Makes Fabric Waterproof?
There is quite a range of waterproof fabrics, and some are simply water-resistant rather than completely waterproof. There are different qualities and scenarios to consider, such as how much water the fabric is exposed to, the size of the water droplets, and how much pressure is exerted onto the fabric.
The waterproof level of fabrics is often measured by how much water pressure the fabric can withstand. The waterproof level of a fabric is determined by how permeable the fabric is when exposed to water, and this is directly related to its waterproof rating.
Tightly woven fabrics and non-woven varieties of fabric such as polypropylene are more water-resistant, as the spaces between the fibers are too small to allow for water to travel through.
So, to create waterproof fabric, the fibers either have to be woven together tightly or, in the case of polypropylene, a backing or a laminate could be used to increase the waterproof qualities of the fabric.
Polypropylene on its own might not be completely waterproof, but like with other fabrics, it can be treated with a water repellent, and maybe even a laminate or backing, so if a fabric needs to be made waterproof for a certain use, there are ways to make it waterproof.
Is Polypropylene Fabric Waterproof?
Under the right conditions and through the right manufacturing and treatment processes, polypropylene can be waterproof. This will be determined by how the polypropylene fabric is made, and if any treatments or layering is added to the polypropylene to increase the water resistance it has.
There are two ways that polypropylene fabric can be produced. It could be woven or non-woven, and these two different types have different properties when it comes to how waterproof the fabric is.
1. Woven Polypropylene
Woven polypropylene is made by plastic polypropylene threads being woven together to form a fabric. The water resistance that woven polypropylene has is directly related to how tightly woven the fabric is, with a tightly woven polypropylene fabric being more waterproof than one which is woven more loosely.
To make woven polypropylene more waterproof, other than by ensuring it is tightly woven, it can be laminated with a certain finish which will increase the water resistance. This does greatly increase and ensure the waterproofing of the fabric, but it also makes it less breathable.
2. Non-Woven Polypropylene
Non-woven polypropylene can be manufactured in a few different ways, and the way that non-woven polypropylene is made will determine how waterproof it might be. Finishes added to non-woven polypropylene also affect the waterproofing.
As it is manufactured in such a wide range of different ways, the possibility of non-woven polypropylene being waterproof is quite a bit greater than that of woven polypropylene, as there are more ways to create a waterproof fabric and more finishes and layers that can be added to the fabric to increase resistance to water.
Often, non-woven polypropylene can be given a polyethylene coating, which makes it more waterproof than just being left as is. Depending on the intended use, non-woven polypropylene can be as waterproof as needed.
Is Polypropylene Ever Non-Waterproof?
There are definitely cases where polypropylene is not waterproof and where it will not offer protection against rain and other water exposure.
Woven polypropylene fabric that is not tightly woven together will not be waterproof, as water droplets will be able to move through the holes in the fabric easily. This is also true for polypropylene that has aged; it will begin to lose its waterproof properties and water will start to seep through over time.
How the polypropylene fabric is treated will also determine how waterproof it is. Non-woven polypropylene that is not treated with a waterproof finish, or which is not layered with additional protection, will not have great waterproof properties.
How To Determine If Polypropylene Is Waterproof
If you are unsure whether or not the polypropylene fabric you have is waterproof, there are some tests you can do at home to see if it is waterproof, and how waterproof the material is.
First, you can place the polypropylene over a container and pour water over the fabric. Check to see if any water drips through the fabric into the bucket. You can leave the fabric for a while to see if the water needs time to drip through. If there is no water in the bucket afterward, it means the fabric is waterproof.
Another way to check that a fabric such as polypropylene is waterproof is by checking for water beads. To test this way, you can lay the fabric flat, and pour some water onto it. If water beads appear, it is a sign that the fabric is waterproof and that it has water-repelling properties.
Most fabrics, such as polypropylene fabric, are sold with a waterproof rating, so you could always check up on this rating to see the protection that the fabric gives.
What Makes Polypropylene Special?
Polypropylene might just seem like another plastic-based fabric to many people, but this fabric, when treated to be waterproof, has many beneficial properties that many other fabrics do not.
Particularly regarding non-woven polypropylene, this fabric can be waterproof and breathable, meaning that it can be used to create light and breathable waterproof coats that are comfortable to wear, and which do not feel too stuffy or too heavy to wear on a regular basis.
This is due to non-woven polypropylene not having big enough spaces for water droplets to travel through, but still offering enough space for vapor and air particles to move out, which makes the fabric breathable.
Many waterproof fabrics are not breathable and lack the properties that non-woven polypropylene can have, which makes non-woven polypropylene a great option for breathable, comfortable, and waterproof outerwear.
Raincoats and rain jackets made from non-woven polypropylene are popular thanks to the water-resistance they offer when out, but also because they are lightweight and do not feel stiff or stuffy when worn, which is a huge bonus when you are out walking and are hit by a sudden downpour!
What Projects Is Polypropylene Best For?
Waterproof polypropylene fabric has quite a few different uses, with non-woven polypropylene and woven polypropylene being used for slightly different projects.
Both woven and non-woven polypropylene fabrics are popularly used to make reusable shopping bags that are strong, durable, and offer protection to the contents of the bag by being waterproof. Following along the same lines, these two are also used to make tote and garment bags too.
Waterproof polypropylene is also a popular choice of material to use to make outdoor clothing, which has the benefits of being waterproof, but also lightweight and breathable. This includes rain jackets, ponchos, and even waterproof pants.
Non-woven polypropylene fabric is also a choice of fabric commonly used as interfacing in garments and even in upholstery in chairs and sofas. When it comes to home projects, polypropylene is also used to make homemade masks, acting as the filter in the mask.
With so many different uses and applications, even being used as bandages in the medical field and to make baggage, polypropylene, woven or non-woven, can have so many uses, whether treated to be more waterproof or not.
Deciding Whether To Use Polypropylene
If polypropylene looks like a good fit for your projects, there are some double checks you need to make to ensure it is the best option for you.
When using polypropylene fabric for waterproof purposes, you should take some extra time to check how waterproof the fabric really is. You do not want to be stuck out in a rainstorm with outerwear that isn’t actually that waterproof!
Test the fabric by pouring water over it, or by checking for water beading. Try to find the details on the waterproof rating of the fabric itself from the manufacturer if possible too.
You should also consider how breathable and lightweight polypropylene is. Woven polypropylene fabric can be waterproof, but this comes at the cost of it not being breathable. Non-woven polypropylene can be both breathable and waterproof, so it might be the better option for you.
To make the fabric even more waterproof if needed, there are a few different ways you can achieve this. You could either layer the fabric over itself to increase the water resistance, or you could purchase waterproofing treatments and treat the fabric yourself.
Also keep in mind that if you are sewing the fabric, this could cause holes for water to seep through, so you might have to reinforce or tape up the sewn sections to prevent the fabric from losing some of its waterproof properties.
What Else Is Polypropylene Used For?
Polypropylenes uses go much further than just being used for waterproof outerwear. It is one of the most commonly used thermoplastics in the world, and its range of uses is quite impressive.
From plastic packaging and fabrics to machinery and plastic parts, polypropylene can be manufactured to suit many different purposes.
The most popular uses of polypropylene:
- Packaging – Polypropylene is a popular choice for packaging, as it is affordable and can give good structure and strength.
- Medical Use – Polypropylene has chemical and bacterial resistance, making it a good option for different medical applications, such as being used for medical vials, Petri dishes, pill containers, disposable syringes, pans, and so on.
- Consumer Goods – Polypropylene is popularly used for consumer goods, such as housewares, furniture, toys, translucent parts, and much more.
- Fabrics And Fiber Uses – There are many ways that polypropylene can be used to make different fabrics and fibers, such as for bulk continuous filament, raffia, tape, strapping, and much more.
- Automotive Uses – Polypropylene is used in the automotive industry quite widely, thanks to it being affordable, weldable, and having some other suitable properties. Bumpers, fender liners, battery cases, tray, industrial panels, and door trims can all be made from polypropylene.
- Industrial Uses – Polypropylene has high tensile strength and is resistant to high temperatures and chemicals, making it a good choice to use for sheets, pipes, and even chemical tanks.
Is Polypropylene Safe?
There are some potentially toxic chemicals that are used to treat and manufacture different types of polypropylene, but generally, it is considered fairly safe and is even used as packaging for food and drink, and is found in the medical supply industry as well.
The issue with polypropylene is that it is not eco-friendly, and is quite difficult to recycle. However, it can be re-used quite safely and is usually strong enough to withstand wear and tear.
As long as it is used for its intended purpose and the polypropylene comes from a safe source, it should not be dangerous to use.
Is Polypropylene Waterproof?
Polypropylene can be waterproof, and how waterproof it is depends on how it was manufactured and how it is treated. These waterproofing properties make it a great fabric to use for outerwear clothing and for items that need some waterproofing.
There are other benefits to using non-woven polypropylene fabric, including that it is breathable and light, which is something that many other waterproof fabrics do not have.
Before using polypropylene fabric for a project at home, make sure to check or test the waterproof properties to ensure that it is the right fabric for you to use and that it will suit your needs well.
The treatment and manufacturing of polypropylene will determine how well it works for the purpose you need it for, so consider all of the above information before choosing the right fabric!
Does Polypropylene Absorb Water?
Polypropylene is resistant to absorbing water and moisture, which makes it waterproof and a good option for waterproof outerwear.
What Are The Disadvantages Of Polypropylene?
Polypropylene does have some disadvantages, such as being highly flammable, and it is susceptible to UV degradation.
Is Polypropylene Strong?
Polypropylene is a strong material, measuring in at around 4800 psi of tensile strength. This means it can withstand heavy loads, while still being fairly lightweight.
Can Polypropylene Be Used For Rain Jackets?
Rain jackets can be made from polypropylene, as it can be made considerably waterproof, and it can still be lightweight and breathable. This makes for a nice, light outer jacket that can be thrown on over clothes for when there is a downpour of rain.
The breathability of polypropylene does make it stand out from other waterproof materials, which are often layered and quite stiff and not breathable at all.