difference between waterproof and water resistant

What’s The Difference Between Waterproof and Water Resistant

Have you ever purchased a water-resistant product believing that it was actually waterproof? Even if you hadn’t done that, a lot of people do. In fact, most don’t even know that these are different words used to mean different attributes.

In this article, we shall explore the difference between waterproof and water resistant.


Waterproof vs Water Resistant: An Overview

The main difference between them is that, while water resistance refers to the ability to block the penetrative ability of water, waterproof refers to the ability to be impervious to water.

Think of it like this. Water resistant materials can stop water from penetrating the material to some extent. However, if water resistant materials are exposed to water completely, they won’t be able to keep the water out. For example, if you submerge a water resistant fabric, it will still get wet.

On the other hand, waterproof materials are built to resist water even in the most extreme conditions. For example, if you take a quality waterproof polythene bag, seal it tight, and submerge it, it won’t let the water enter it under any condition.


What Is Water Resistant?

water resistant

Water resistance is the weakest form of protection against water. A device or a fabric labeled water resistant denotes that the specific product is constructed tightly and will make it tough for water to enter it.

Water resistance isn’t completely useless, though. Water resistance can create a great difference for small electronic accessories like watches, earphones, and smartphones.

These accessories are likely to come in contact with your sweat or rain at best. In such cases, their water resistance will keep them safe and usable. However, the chances of these surviving submersion are very low, as they aren’t waterproof.


What Is Waterproof?


Waterproof is the highest degree of protection against water. Sadly, even today we don’t have any industry-standard scale to rank the waterproofing capability of a material or a device. The closes standard we have right now is the IP rating.

The IP rating assigns a code that rates a device from 0 to 8, 0 being the least effective and 8 being the most.


Main Differences Between Waterproof vs Water Resistant

waterproof vs water resistant

Water resistance and waterproof are completely different things. Let’s take a look at some of their key differences.


Water resistance refers to the ability to obstruct the penetrative ability of water. On the other hand, waterproof refers to the ability to obstruct water from entering a device.

Practically, water resistance may allow water to enter a device after a certain time, but waterproofing means that it will prevent the water from entering the device no matter how long it is exposed to water. The effect of waterproofing decays over time.


Level of Protection

Water resistance is the least effective for protection against water, and waterproofing is the most effective for protection against water.

Think of it like this; if water resistance means that a material has one layer of protection against water, waterproofing means it has three layers of protection against water.



As per the IPX rating, IPX1 to IPX6K rated devices and materials are water resistant because these devices can resist water up to a certain extent.

On the other hand, IPX7 to IPX9K devices are waterproof. IPX7 devices can be submerged up to 1 meter for 30 minutes, and IPX8 devices can be submerged more than a meter for the same time, while the highest depth is rated by the manufacturer.

Finally, IPX9K devices can resist high-pressure and high-temperature sprays at close range. However, this is used in special cases only, so it’s considered as rare.


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Comparison Chart on Waterproof and Water Resistant

Properties to Compare Waterproof Water Resistant
Definition Ability to obstruct ingress of water Ability to obstruct the penetrative ability of water to a certain extent
Level of Protection Most effective protection against water Least effective protection against water
Waterproof IP Rating Ranges from IPX7 to IPX9K Ranges from IPX1 to IPX6


Key Takeaways

  • Water resistance is the least form of protection against water, while waterproof is the highest protection against water.
  • Waterproof devices are rated from IPX7 to IPX8, but water-resistant devices are rated from IPX1 to IPX6K.
  • An IPX7 or IPX8 rated device doesn’t come with the benefits provided by the lower ratings, if they do, both ratings are mentioned.



With this discussion, we’ve finally concluded the waterproof vs water resistant debate. Hopefully, from now on, you’ll be able to make the right choice for yourself when you’re buying a new device or accessory for yourself.

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