Water-resistant neoprene is a popular choice of material for use in marine applications due to its excellent chemical and physical properties. Neoprene sheets can be used for general-purpose applications; however, neoprene sheets are popular for its protection against moisture in both industrial and residential settings. Along with its excellent moisture-resistance properties, neoprene sheets are able to also withstand outside damaging factors, further broadening their versatility. Solid neoprene can provide a higher level of protection against moisture compared to open or closed cell neoprene foam forms due to the difference in densities and the air pockets found in cellular neoprene. Despite this, water-resistant neoprene, both solid and foam, will stand up well against moisture and is commonly used in industrial settings as well as residential settings.
Is Neoprene Water-Resistant?
Neoprene is a water-resistant material that will not allow moisture to permeate through its structure; however, some forms of neoprene are not 100% waterproof. Solid neoprene sheets are highly water-resistant while its foam or cellular counterparts are more permeable due to its porous cellular structure. Solid neoprene is sufficiently water-resistant and can be used in the outdoors without weathering or suffering degradation. In contrast, foam neoprene has lower moisture-resisting properties, especially in the open celled variation. Despite this, neoprene overall has excellent water-resistant properties with both solid and foam neoprene sheets commonly being used in marine applications.
How Waterproof is Neoprene?
Neoprene is not a waterproof material but it does offer a high level of moisture-resistance and will not be harmed by moisture if left on its surface. The definition of “waterproof”, according to Cambridge Dictionary, is the act of “not allowing water to go through [a material]” (dictionary.cambridge.org). Solid neoprene sheets are able to resist the permeation of moisture to a certain degree, but not completely. If moisture is lefts on the material for too long, it can eventually seep through the material. Harder and more solid neoprene rubber is ideal for industrial seals and gaskets that are used to prevent leakage of oils and other moisture. Since industrial settings can be exposed to oil, it would be beneficial to use oil-resistant products, such as neoprene. Other times, softer neoprene, such as that of the 45 Shore A durometer, can be used residentially as seals for cars and refrigerators.
Is Foam Neoprene Rubber Waterproof?
Foam neoprene rubber is not waterproof, but rather water-resistant, and is slightly more permeable than solid neoprene rubber. Closed cell neoprene foam is a semi-permeable material due to its air-filled matrix; however, with an absorption rate of less than 5%, it is difficult for moisture to seep through the material. While it does not absorb water right away, it can eventually permeate through the material if left unattended for extended periods of time. Open cell foam neoprene, on the other hand, features larger pockets of air compared to closed cell neoprene foam and will absorb any moisture right away. With an absorption rate of less than 5%, foam neoprene is a popular product that is commonly used in marine settings.
What is Water-Resistant Neoprene Used For?
Water-resistant neoprene is used for a number of sealing, weather insulation, marine, bumpers, seals, gaskets, and as electrical insulators. Both solid and foam neoprene materials are durable enough to be used indoors and outdoors and for industrial and residential applications. Due to their difference in structures, solid and foam neoprene are used in applications that may not be as suitable for the other form. Solid neoprene is much denser than its foam counterpart and offers better impact protection for marine applications that may need shock absorbing properties. Foam neoprene sheets are much lighter and has a less dense composition which is not ideal for protective purposes. Due to the contrasting levels of moisture-resistance, it is important to determine how much moisture a neoprene product will be exposed to in a certain setting or application.
Industrial Uses of Water-Resistant Neoprene
Water-resistant neoprene is an all-purpose material that is ideal for industrial marine applications. Although the hardness of the material will determine its use, solid neoprene generally has a good level of abrasion-resistance, strength, and impact absorption. For instance, solid neoprene can be used for marine applications, such as dock bumpers, to avoid damage to the boats or to the docks themselves. Foam neoprene, although porous, can still be used for industrial marine applications. Closed cell neoprene foam has a tighter composition than open cell foam allowing it to be moderately water-resistant. Furthermore, since water-resistant neoprene is also resistant to extreme heat, neoprene foam can be used as an electrical insulator to provide a water-resistant protective covering for live wires. Because water is a conductor of electrical current, live wires near boat docks and marinas that are frequented by people can lead to life-threatening injuries, or even death caused by electrical shock drowning. According to the National Fire Protection Association, “Electric shock drowning (ESD) happens when marina or onboard electrical systems leak electric current into the water. The current then passes through the body, causing paralysis, and results in drowning” (nfpa.org). Closed cell neoprene foam can help prevent such hazards by providing a water-resistant protective buffer between the water and the electrical currents.
Residential Uses of Water-Resistant Neoprene
Despite its strength and density, water-resistant neoprene can be used for less abrasive applications around the home. Neoprene can provide water-resistant protection for expensive household items that can be damaged by moisture, such as electronics. For example, neoprene can be used to create a protective laptop sleeve that can protect against moisture and dents in case it is accidentally bumped into a hard object. Other times, water-resistant neoprene can be a cost-effective alternative to popular latex cleaning gloves. They are able to protect hands from hard water as well as any harsh detergents that may also be present. Due to its durability and excellent resistance against damaging materials, water-resistant neoprene gloves will last much longer than other cleaning gloves making it a cost-effective product that will outlast competing materials. Neoprene sheets can also be used for basic indoor or outdoor floor protection due to its ability to resist damaging environmental factors.
Water-resistant neoprene is widely valued for its versatility and its ability to be used in highly abrasive areas. Solid neoprene provides excellent moisture-resistance while also being a hard and dense material that will provide protection against impacts, chemicals, and oils. Closed cell neoprene foam, although less dense, will still provide a moderate level of moisture and oil-resistance and will be difficult for moisture to permeate through the material. Due to the difference in composition, neoprene sheets are versatile products that can be used for abrasive applications in industrial settings while also being used for lighter applications in residential settings.