Are Vinyl Banners Truly Waterproof?

What are vinyl banners?

Vinyl banners are large format print advertisements commonly used for outdoor signage. They are made from flexible poly vinyl material, which is durable and weather resistant.

Vinyl banner material typically ranges from 13 oz to 18 oz in weight. The vinyl is coated on one or both sides with UV-resistant inks using a wide format digital printer. This allows vinyl banners to showcase colorful, high-resolution graphics and text.

Common vinyl banner sizes are 2ft x 6ft, 3ft x 8ft, and 4ft x 10ft. But vinyl material can be printed in custom widths over 10 feet wide to create very large signage.

Vinyl banners are a popular choice for:

  • Outdoor advertising for small businesses, events, sales, etc. Their flexible material allows vinyl banners to be hung on walls and fences or wave in the breeze.

  • Trade show displays as large backdrops or hung from ceilings. Lightweight vinyl material is easy to transport and install.

  • Sports fields and school events for temporary signage and team/sponsor advertisements.

  • Construction site barriers with project details, warnings, and branding.

  • Indoor retail promotions and aisle signage that can be switched out as needed.

So in summary, vinyl banners are customizable, outdoor-durable graphic prints that provide an affordable option for large format event, location, and brand awareness signage. Their flexible, lightweight material makes vinyl banners easy to install in a wide variety of locations and situations.

Are vinyl banners waterproof by default?

Vinyl banners are made from a durable, flexible PVC (polyvinyl chloride) material that has an inherent water-resistant property. The vinyl itself provides a barrier that prevents water from soaking through the banner fabric.

However, vinyl banners are not completely impervious to water on their own. Without any additional waterproofing treatment, vinyl will repel water splashes and light rain, but may absorb water if exposed to heavy downpours. Prolonged moisture exposure can lead to staining, mildew growth, or leaks over time.

While vinyl offers more water protection than natural fabrics like cotton, it doesn’t provide complete waterproofing on its own. Some level of water may permeate through vinyl, especially around stitched seams, grommets, or porous inks. Without a water-resistant coating applied, vinyl banners are water-resistant but not fully waterproof.

What makes vinyl banners waterproof?

Vinyl banners can be made waterproof through the application of special coatings or laminates. Here’s an overview of the main options:

Vinyl coatings

  • Acrylic coating: An acrylic-based clear coat can be applied to vinyl banner material to make it water-resistant. The acrylic forms a protective barrier that prevents moisture from seeping into the vinyl. Acrylic coatings are affordable, durable, and provide a good level of waterproofing.

  • Polyurethane coating: A polyurethane coating is another common option for vinyl banners. The polyurethane forms a tough, flexible coating that repels water. Polyurethane-coated vinyl banners have excellent water resistance while retaining good breathability and pliability.

  • PVDF/Kynar coatings: PVDF or Kynar coatings use advanced fluoropolymer technology to create a barrier against liquid water while still allowing vapor transmission. Banners treated with PVDF or Kynar have exceptional longevity and can stand up to total water submersion. These industrial-grade coatings are more expensive than acrylic or polyurethane.

Vinyl laminates

  • Matte laminate: Matte laminates give vinyl banners a uniform flat finish. They provide basic water resistance. Matte laminates are affordable and don’t create much glare.

  • Gloss laminate: Glossy laminate films create a shiny, slick surface that repels water. They provide good waterproofing while helping colors pop. However, gloss laminates can create glare.

  • Outdoor scrim: Scrim laminates use a thin woven reinforcing layer for superior tear resistance. The scrim layer is sandwiched between two vinyl layers. Outdoor scrim laminates offer excellent waterproofing for outdoor vinyl banners.

So in summary, while plain vinyl banners allow moisture through, the application of coatings or laminates to the vinyl creates a waterproof barrier that prevents water damage. Acrylic, polyurethane and PVDF coatings along with matte, glossy and scrim laminates are common options.

Pros of Waterproof Vinyl Banners

Waterproof vinyl banners provide many advantages compared to non-waterproof materials. Here are some of the top pros of using waterproof vinyl for banners:

Durability and Longevity

The vinyl material itself is inherently durable and long-lasting. Vinyl won’t fray or tear easily like fabric banners. And the waterproof lamination provides an extra layer of protection that prevents moisture damage over time. Waterproof vinyl banners can withstand years of outdoor use and exposure to sun, rain, and humidity without degrading.

Withstand Rain and Moisture

Vinyl banners are able to withstand rain, sprinklers, dew, and damp conditions that would ruin paper or fabric banners. The vinyl won’t absorb moisture or warp when wet. This makes waterproof vinyl ideal for outdoor banners that will be exposed to unpredictable weather. Events rarely have to be cancelled or rescheduled due to banner damage from moisture when using waterproof materials.

Maintain Vibrant Colors

The colors printed on vinyl banners are brighter and bolder compared to absorbent materials like paper or fabric. When paired with waterproof lamination, the colors maintain their vibrancy for longer rather than fading in the elements. This allows brands to achieve high visual impact with their banner designs over extended periods.

Cons of Waterproof Vinyl Banners

While waterproof vinyl banners have many benefits, there are some potential downsides to consider as well.

Higher Cost

Vinyl banner material tends to be more expensive than other common banner fabrics like canvas or polyester. The vinyl coating adds to the overall production costs. This means waterproof vinyl banners often have a higher price point, which can be a drawback for those on tight budgets.

Heavier Weight

The vinyl coating also makes banners heavier overall compared to non-coated fabrics. Vinyl’s density gives it that water-resistant quality but also increases the weight. This may make vinyl banners more difficult to hang and transport. The heavier material also costs more to ship.

Potential Damage if Not Cared For Properly

While vinyl banners are waterproof, they still require some care and maintenance to prevent damage. If vinyl banners are folded or tightly creased for long periods, the vinyl coating can start cracking over time. Letting vinyl banners flap or whip in the wind can also cause damage as the material degrades. It’s important to take precautions like using grommets, storing horizontally, and avoiding long-term creasing.

So while waterproof vinyl banners have excellent durability for outdoor use, their higher price, heavy weight, and care requirements are things to keep in mind as potential downsides. Taking steps to properly handle and care for vinyl banners helps ensure they last. But the extra production costs and shipping fees make them less ideal for very temporary signage.

Caring for waterproof vinyl banners

Properly caring for waterproof vinyl banners will help them last longer and maintain their appearance. Here are some tips on storage, cleaning, and precautions:

Storage

  • Avoid folding or tightly rolling vinyl banners when storing as this can cause creases. It’s best to keep them flat if possible.

  • Store vinyl banners out of direct sunlight and away from heat sources that could cause the material to warp or melt.

  • If a banner won’t be used for a long time, consider loosely rolling it onto a tube or pipe for storage.

Cleaning

  • For light cleaning, use a soft sponge or microfiber cloth with mild soap and water. Avoid abrasive cleaners or scrubbing too hard.

  • For tougher stains, isopropyl alcohol applied with a soft cloth can help remove residue. Test on a small area first.

  • Avoid using high pressure water or steam cleaners on vinyl banners as this risks damaging the material.

Precautions

  • Be very cautious about folding or creasing vinyl banners when handling them. The folds can become permanent indentations.

  • Don’t place extremely heavy objects on top of stored vinyl banners or drag other items across their surface.

  • Vinyl banners can become brittle in very cold temperatures. Avoid hanging or removing them in freezing conditions.

  • If any eyelets, grommets, or banner hardware rust or corrode, replace them promptly to avoid staining or weakening the vinyl.

Properly caring for waterproof vinyl banners will protect your investment and allow you to reuse them for many events or promotions. With the right storage, cleaning, and precautions, vinyl banners can reliably withstand outdoor use.

Alternatives to Vinyl for Waterproof Banners

Vinyl is not the only material option for making waterproof banners. Here are some alternatives to consider:

Polyester Fabric

Polyester fabric can be a good option for waterproof event banners. The material is naturally water-resistant due to its hydrophobic properties. Polyester does not absorb moisture like natural fibers.

Some key advantages of polyester banners:

  • Durable and wrinkle-resistant
  • Lightweight for easy hanging
  • Vibrant printing surface for graphics
  • Low maintenance

The disadvantages include:

  • Not as thick or durable as vinyl
  • Can sag over time under gravity
  • Prone to fraying along edges
  • Not 100% waterproof without special treatment

To make polyester banners fully waterproof, they can be coated on the backside with acrylic or polyurethane. This enhances the material’s water-repellent properties. The tradeoff is this can sometimes interfere with ink adhesion during printing.

Canvas

Canvas is another fabric option for waterproof signage. It has a tighter weave than polyester, so it’s naturally more water-resistant. Canvas is an extremely durable material that holds up well in outdoor conditions.

Advantages of canvas banners:

  • Very rugged and tear-resistant
  • Handles moisture and humidity better than other fabrics
  • Can be waxed or treated to enhance waterproofing
  • Great for eye-catching graphic designs

Disadvantages of canvas include:

  • Heavier than materials like vinyl and polyester
  • Can bleed some ink types without pretreatment
  • Not as economically priced as vinyl banners
  • Waxing/treatment can interfere with printing

Overall, canvas can be a good choice for waterproof outdoor banners where durability is a priority. Extra treatments may be needed for maximized water resistance.

Making Existing Banners Waterproof

If you already have vinyl banners that are not waterproof, there are solutions for making them waterproof after the fact. The most common options are protective sprays and coatings that can be applied to the surface of the banner.

One popular option is using a waterproofing spray like Scotchgard or Thompson’s Water Seal. These sprays contain hydrophobic chemicals that cause water to bead up and run off the surface while still allowing air and vapors through. Spraying both sides of the banner and letting it fully dry can help regular vinyl withstand moisture. Reapplication is needed every few months for continued effectiveness.

For more heavy-duty waterproofing, liquid sealants and coatings work better than sprays. Products like Aquaseal and SeamGrip form a flexible, clear barrier that seals out liquid water. Brush-on urethane, acrylic, and PVDC coatings also provide durable water resistance and can be found at most hardware stores. Applying these liquid coatings requires letting each side dry thoroughly first.

It’s best to test any coating or spray on a small corner of the banner first. Too much liquid can cause the vinyl to become stiff. But if done properly, applying the right waterproof coating can extend the life of banners that need to withstand the elements. With the right products and techniques, it is possible to make existing vinyl banners water-resistant.

Waterproof Banner Design Considerations

When designing a banner that needs to be waterproof, there are some best practices to follow that will help the banner withstand the elements.

Avoid Runs and Drips

Solid blocks of color work better for waterproof vinyl banners than gradient colors. Gradients can sometimes bleed or run when exposed to a lot of water. Stick to solid bold colors instead. Avoid light colors as well, as they show dirt and stains more easily. Darker bold solids are best for hiding drips and stains.

Use Darker Colors

As mentioned above, dark colors help conceal drips and stains better than light colors. Black, navy blue, dark red, forest green, etc are good color choices. Stay away from light blues, yellows, tans or other light colors that will easily show flaws.

Ensure High Quality Images

If your vinyl banner will include a photo or complex logo, be sure the image files are high resolution. Pixelated or blurry images will not hold up well when enlarged on a banner. Use images intended for print use at the highest resolution possible. This will ensure the image stays crisp when printed at banner size.

Following these simple tips will help your custom vinyl banners maintain their integrity and appearance, even through wet weather conditions. A well-designed waterproof vinyl banner will be able to withstand the rain while making a bold visual impact.

When are waterproof banners necessary?

Waterproof banners are recommended or required for certain outdoor uses and events where exposure to water is likely. Here are some examples:

  • Outdoor concerts and festivals – Banners at outdoor music events, county fairs, and festivals will be exposed to the elements. Waterproof vinyl banners are a smart choice to withstand rain and moisture.

  • Beachside promotions – Banners placed at beaches, pools, water parks and similar locations need waterproofing since splashing or spray from water features is common.

  • Outdoor sporting events – From youth sports tournaments to professional stadiums, a waterproof banner is best to handle damp grass or rain at an athletic field.

  • Parades – Parade banners may need to withstand rain during the event. Waterproof vinyl is also easier to clean after a parade.

  • Car washes or charity fundraisers – Car wash fundraisers often use banners. A waterproof banner won’t get ruined by all the spraying water and suds.

  • Waterside restaurants or businesses – Banners placed on docks, marinas, or outdoor decks at lakeside eateries will benefit from waterproofing.

  • Boat shows and nautical events – The splashing waves at boat shows call for waterproof boat show banners and signage.

  • Amusement parks – Theme parks with log flumes or water rides with big splashes should use waterproof vinyl banners.

  • Construction sites – Building project banners on construction sites need waterproofing to endure rain and other wet conditions.

The key is anticipating contact with water or moisture and choosing waterproof vinyl banners whenever banner exposure is likely at an outdoor venue or event.

Are Vinyl Banners Truly Waterproof?

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