Waterproof, water repellent and water resistant: What does it all mean?

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Waterproof, water repellant and water resistant are all terms that get thrown around when discussing the benefits of various types of footwear. Although you can view all three of these terms as distinct positives over other options for your prospective shoes, your intended function may determine how important each really is. For example, an employee in a kitchen where spills are possible may have different water-resistance requirements for his or her shoes than someone who needs work shoes for a backroom grocery job.

For people who work at jobs where water and spills are common – restaurants, hospitals, cafeterias and warehouses, for example – and slip-resistant shoes are important, knowing the difference between waterproof, water repellant and water resistant can come in handy. Otherwise, you may end up buying a new pair of work shoes that leave your feet soaked when water comes into play. Here are some important facts to remember about each of these terms so that you know which is best for you.

Water resistant
Water-resistant shoes are designed to let less water in than traditional materials, but they’re not as impermeable as water-repellant or waterproof products. Water-resistant shoes are likely built to protect from minimal exposure, like walking from a car to an office through the rain. They may be made of more tightly woven materials or a different composition than traditional footwear, but they wouldn’t prevent penetration during submersion. It’s typically viewed as the lowest rating of water protection.

While water-resistant shoes don’t hold off liquid as well as other footwear, they do still have advantages. Many people prefer water-resistant shoes to waterproof or repellant options because they breathe much better. If you’re going to be on your feet, wearing nonslip shoes at work, breathability is an important factor to consider. Some people would prefer to have footwear that breathes and take the risk of getting their feet wet.

Water repellent
Water-repellent boots or shoes are in between waterproof and resistant in their protection level from liquid. While they can prevent far more water from penetrating the shoes than water-resistant footwear, they still can’t match the impermeability of waterproof boots. Comparison website DifferenceBetween.com explained that water-repellant shoes use chemicals as well as different manufacturing practices to prevent more water from entering a shoe than water-resistant options.

“Water-repellant fabrics are considered to be better than water-resistant fabrics simply because they are tightly woven, also because they have a chemical coating that causes water drops to form beads when it strikes the surface of the fabric,” the website explained. “These beads slide away rather than go inside the fabric. This chemical coating remains for a time period as it is likely to come off with dry cleaning of the fabric or simply wear off with use over time.”

Materials can be measured on an electronic 9-point scale, called the IP rating scale. With a range from 0 to 8, these ratings help people understand exactly how waterproof an object is. Zero represents something that has no resistance to water at all, while eight is something that can stay submerged indefinitely without damage.

The term waterproof in footwear generally refers to a product that won’t absorb water regardless of the situation. Waterproof footwear is typically made of rubber or impermeable plastic that water rolls off of. Boots that you’d feel comfortable walking into a river with would be considered waterproof. Waterproof footwear options can offer optimal protection to people in workplaces where water spills and accidents are commonplace.

Brought to you by Shoes For Crews, the trusted leader in safety footwear for more than 30 years.

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