Water Resistant vs Waterproof: Difference and Comparison

Key Takeaways

  1. Degree of Protection: “Water Resistant” devices or materials are designed to resist the penetration of water to some degree but not entirely. They can handle splashes, sweat, or light rain but aren’t suitable for prolonged submersion. In contrast, “Waterproof” items are impermeable to water, providing a higher level of protection, and can be submerged in water without suffering damage, though there might be depth and duration limits.
  2. Intended Use: Water-resistant products are designed for everyday activities where occasional contact with water is possible, such as wearing a watch while washing hands or using a phone in the rain. Waterproof products, on the other hand, are intended for more rigorous activities, including swimming, diving, or conditions where they’ll be exposed to water for extended periods.
  3. Limitations and Ratings: Many products that claim to be waterproof or water-resistant come with specific ratings, such as the IP (Ingress Protection) rating. These ratings provide detailed information on the extent of protection against water and other particles. It’s essential to check these ratings to understand the real capabilities of a product, as “waterproof” doesn’t always mean a device can be submerged indefinitely, and “water-resistant” items have varying degrees of resistance.

What is Water Resistant?

Water resistance refers to a product’s ability to withstand water penetration to some extent. For instance, a water-resistant jacket can resist light rain without allowing water to penetrate through the fabric. However, over time, this quality will decrease, and the product will be subjected to damage.

Different types of products can be made to be water-resistant, from clothes to shoes, electronics to bags. In modern times we have our smartwatches and other electronic products’ seams sealed or coated with protected elements to deter water damage.

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Some water-resistant materials come with breathability features. They let moisture escape from within the item and do not let water stay to cause damage. 

Water-resistant never guarantee complete protection against water. It has its own classification, and the Ingress Protection or IP rating can know it. It is also important to follow the care instructions of these products to ensure a long life for them. 

What is Waterproof?

When a product is waterproof, it means it is capable of withstanding water completely without being damaged. Users can expose it to heavy moisture or water for an extended period of time without facing any damage. 

The waterproof barrier ensures that the water does not cross it and reach the centre of the product. Waterproof membranes, tightly sealed seams, or special water repeller coating protect the products.

The application of this technology is seen where water protection is a must. Jackets for hiking or skiing, watches for diving, bags for boating and many other items need to be fully protected from water; hence they all come with the necessary feature. 

However, the level of being waterproof can vary. The environment, duration of exposure and many other factors play a role in the process. If the users follow the care instructions of the products carefully, then the product can last for a long time with minimal maintenance. 

Difference Between Water Resistant and Waterproof

  1. Both water resistance and waterproof are terms used for products to show how durable they are to withstand water. A water-resistant product can somewhat resist water from affecting the product, but a waterproof product can withstand water fully. 
  2. On the measured scale, a water-resistant product will score IPX4. But a waterproof product will score IPX7.
  3. Waterproof products are created to build a barrier that deters water from passing through the material, but water-resistant products do not have this string barrier to dissuade water completely. 
  4. Water resistance is temporary and will decrease over time but waterproof is a high-level quality that will last long.
  5. As it is a temporary solution, water-resistant items need care and maintenance, but waterproof ones demand less maintenance.
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Comparison Between Water Resistant and Waterproof

Parameter of ComparisonWater ResistantWaterproof
DefinitionComplete water protection, such as water submersion, is fine.When a product is waterproof, it means it prevents water penetration fully.
Level of protectionIt only has limited protection to offer against water.It has high-level protection to offer against water.
Seam sealingWater-resistant products do not have fully sealed seams.Waterproof products have fully sealed seams.
Extend of exposure Exposure such as light rain or splashes is fine for it.Complete water protection, such as submersion in water, is fine for it.
Durability It is not very durable as it can be affected by heavy moisture and needs maintenance.  Comparatively, it is less durable and does not require much maintenance.
  1. https://academic.oup.com/bjd/article-abstract/140/2/259/6683866
  2. https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1029/94WR00749

Last Updated : 19 August, 2023

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