Waterproof vs. Water Repellent vs. Water Resistant – What’s The Difference? 

There are different ways to block out water and moisture. One can opt for waterproof, water repellent, or water resistant technologies. While all of these features seem the same, notable differences need to be considered when choosing the best one to use. 

 We live in a world composed of 71% water, leaving only 29 % of land area. Although water is essential to human life and health, we cannot go around exposing ourselves and our things all day. 

Hence, water protectors were invented to help us live side-by-side these bodies of water and not jeopardize ourselves and our possessions. These inventions help save our valuables from the damages of exposure to water. 


Waterproof Coating

Waterproof is a layer that creates a 100% barrier against water to save things from withering away, especially those exposed to the water almost 24/7. Waterproofing is the highest level of the finish that helps block away the water completely. 

 Water Protection Level 

Waterproofing gives you the best water protection level. You can use waterproof things wherever and however you want. It has fully submersible capabilities. 

Where to Use 

The extremely fragile products that could deteriorate with water contact need to be waterproofed. The products exposed to water bodies 24/7 also need to be waterproofed. The things that need to be submerged in water for a long time need to be waterproofed. 

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Things that Needs to be Waterproof 

Waterproof Smartphone

There will be a lot of things to write down that need to be waterproofed. So it will be easier to name out the categories only. 

These can be camping gear, technical devices, electrical equipment, and woods. There is always space to add things to the list.   

Water Repellent

Water repellent comes in second in the water protectors pyramid. Water repellent provides a medium level of protection against the water.  

Water Repellant

Basically, water repellent is a coating that helps to keep the water from penetrating the surface. It is not a 100% shield against water. 

Water Protection Level 

Water repellent will help to keep the water out of the surface. This finish or coating helps in sliding away the water. If the water stays on the surface, chances are it will eventually get through. 

 It is amusing that engineers are taking inspiration from nature to introduce water repellent things. This particular technology, for instance, is inspired by lotus leaves and butterfly wings. 

Where to Use 

Water repellent can be used in mildly moist areas or areas with light showers. 

Things that Needs to be Water Repellent

Water repellent is used in many common things, such as umbrellas, raincoats, and outdoor garments. The water repellent coating helps keep water out and lets it slide from the surface.   


Water Resistant Smartphone

Water resistance is at the lowest pedestal in the water protectors pyramid. Water-resistance doesn’t necessarily have to be a coating. It can be the device construction only. It is a technology that can resist water penetration to some degree. This coating or finish can be used to block away the vapors and can’t hold out the excessive water exposure. 

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Water Protection Level 

As the name suggests, water resistance can resist the water only, but can’t block it away completely. Hydrophobic coatings can repel water intrusion. It provides the least water protection compared to other finishes. 

Where to Use 

Water-resistance needs to be used in mildly humid areas all the time. Products with a lesser survival span can also be made water-resistant. 

Things that Needs to be Water-Resistant 

Clothes and fabrics, especially synthetics, are made water-resistant. Mobile phones and other accessories like AirPods and chargers are also water-resistant. All these categories vary from time to time. It also varies depending on the manufacturer’s choice. 

Buying Considerations 

By now, you probably have enough knowledge on the difference between waterproof, water repellent, and water-resistant finishes. If you are planning to purchase anything with any anti water coating, you think about the following considerations first: 

1. Category 

Determine the category in which you are going to invest your money. If it’s something expensive or important, you should opt for the best water protection finish. 

2. Weather or Area 

Wether or area should also be one of your buying considerations. Think about where you will use the item and how exposed it will be to any water. 

For instance, if you are going to a beach, while it is hot and you are close to a large body of water and are at greater risk of getting your things wet. Involvement in water sports or activities will further increase your risk scale. 

3. Durability 

The durability of the product is what matters the most. You should think about the uses you will get out of the product. The lifespan is also one thing that you should think about. 

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4. Moisture, Rain, or Anti Water 

Lastly, decide the finish you want. It will sound like a broken record, but this is the most crucial part of your buying considerations. Opt for one of the finishes according to your need. 

Which is Better 

Starting from the top of our water protectors pyramid, the water protection level was listed from the best to the least.  

For a long-usage product that is meant to be used for a long time, we suggest that you invest in waterproofing your things. It could be a little expensive, but the real benefit will come after years of usage. 

 Meanwhile, if you are planning to buy something with a shorter lifespan, you can opt for water repellent items. These tend to be affordable with still a considerable water protection quality. 

Waterproof your expensive and essential things, use water repellant for your daily items, and opt for water-resistant for disposable and few-times use products. This simple rule could improve your life by saving additional costs and possible stress and frustration for water-damaged scenarios. 

Closing Points 

Whatever you choose, it is imperative to admit that water protection technology is a lifesaver at most times. Especially with the invention of many essential things that make our lives convenient, it is important to protect them from enjoying using it for a longer time. While water is an integral part of our lives, it is still crucial that we learn to protect ourselves from the effects and damages it can cause–whether by accident or not. 

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Donald Miller

Hi, I am Donald Miller. I love spending time outdoors backpacking and camping with my family and friends. I enjoy writing about my experiences and sharing them with others through my blog at gociety.com. It's great to meet you!