Water-resistant and waterproof refer to the amount of water that is prevented from entering or exiting an item. Despite having the same purpose, these terms are different and should not be used synonymously. The main difference between water-resistant and waterproof is that water-resistant products can withstand wet weather but cannot withstand being totally submerged in water; waterproof products can.


Only a small percentage of products are now deemed waterproof. Many electronics receive a label of water-resistant, with a depth level rating. For example, a watch may have a label of water-resistant up to 100 feet (30 m); this means that the product can only be guaranteed waterproof for that depth range. Clothing and other such materials accepted as waterproof must have the fabric sealed or the seams taped to keep any water from leaking in through small openings made by sewing needles.


Water-resistant materials are made to keep water from entering when exposed to weather conditions such as rain and snow. Many raincoats, umbrellas, and boots are water-resistant, made of fabrics that have a coating that allows them to repel water. The purpose is to keep a person from getting wet while wearing or using the product for its intended function; beyond that, the product will not resist water. For instance, a water-resistant raincoat would not fare well in a flood.


Another term similar to water-resistant and waterproof is "water-repellent." Items with this label tend to be more durable than water-resistant items but less durable than waterproof items. If a product is water-repellent, water will bead up when touching it. These fabrics are tighter sewn or coated better than water-resistant fabrics, though the coating may wear down over time. Silicone spray may help recoat the fabric. Water-repellent sprays are available to treat a variety of products and some surfaces, such as wood.