Can You Waterproof With PVA (5 Big Reasons)

Waterproofing is a vital consideration in various applications, from construction to arts and crafts.

As we explore the vast array of materials available for this purpose, one question that frequently arises is, “Can You Waterproof With PVA?”

What Is PVA?

PVA, or polyvinyl acetate, is a synthetic polymer. It’s a type of aliphatic rubbery synthetic polymer with the formula (C4H6O2)n. Here’s a breakdown of its key aspects:

Chemical Structure

As mentioned, the chemical formula for polyvinyl acetate is (C4H6O2)n. It is composed of repeating units of vinyl acetate monomers.

Physical Appearance

In its raw form, PVA is a colorless, solid material that’s slightly opaque. However, its appearance can vary based on its specific use and formulation.

Common Uses

  • Adhesives

One of the most widespread uses of PVA is in white glues, often referred to as “wood glue” or “carpenter’s glue.” It’s particularly popular for bonding wood, paper, and cloth.

  • Paints

PVA is used as a binder in paints, giving them good film-forming properties.

  • Arts And Crafts

PVA is a primary ingredient in many craft glues and is often used in schools and art projects.

  • Textiles

It’s used as a finishing agent in the textile industry, often for its stiffening properties.


PVA is known for being non-toxic, having strong adhesive properties, and being flexible when dry. While it has some water-resistant qualities, it’s not entirely waterproof.

Water Solubility

In its emulsion form, PVA is water-soluble, which means it can be dissolved in water. This property makes it easy to clean and manage when wet, but once it dries, PVA becomes more resistant to moisture.


One of the most notable derivatives of PVA is polyvinyl alcohol. Polyvinyl alcohol is produced by hydrolyzing the acetate groups from polyvinyl acetate.

Overall, PVA is a versatile and widely used polymer, especially known for its adhesive qualities in various industries.

While it offers some water resistance, it’s not inherently waterproof, making its potential use for waterproofing a topic of interest and examination.

Can You Waterproof With PVA?

No, you can’t. While PVA (polyvinyl acetate) is often labeled as water-resistant, it is not inherently waterproof. Let’s delve into the reasons:

Nature Of PVA

PVA is a synthetic polymer commonly used in adhesives like wood glue, as well as in paints and other craft-related applications.

When PVA dries, it forms a film that has a certain degree of water resistance. However, this resistance is not sufficient to classify it as waterproof.

Water-Resistant Vs. Waterproof

Being water-resistant means a material can resist the penetration of water to some degree but not entirely.

Waterproofing denotes a complete prevention of water penetration. PVA falls under the water-resistant category.

Limitations Of PVA

Continuous exposure to water will weaken PVA’s adhesive strength over time.

In environments with consistent moisture or direct water contact, PVA will degrade, compromising its structural integrity.

Unsuitable For Submersion

Objects or surfaces coated or bonded with PVA should not be submerged in water. The adhesive will begin to break down, leading to potential failure of the bond.


For projects or applications where true waterproofing is required, it’s essential to use materials and products specifically designed for that purpose.

While PVA might offer a temporary resistance to water, for prolonged or intense water exposure, other specialized products should be considered.

While PVA has its merits in many applications due to its adhesive properties and some degree of water resistance, it is not suitable for tasks that require genuine waterproofing.

Methods To Enhance PVA’s Waterproofing Abilities

PVA (polyvinyl acetate) on its own isn’t inherently waterproof, there are methods and techniques that can enhance its water-resisting capabilities. Here are some methods to boost PVA’s waterproofing abilities:

Mix With Waterproof Agents

Combining PVA with other waterproofing agents or additives can help increase its resistance to water. These additives can either fill gaps in the PVA structure or coat it to create a more effective barrier against moisture.

Use As A Primer

PVA can be used as a primer on porous surfaces like concrete or plaster. When applied as a primer, PVA can seal the surface, reducing its porosity.

This primed surface can then be coated with a robust waterproofing agent for enhanced protection.

Multiple Coatings

Applying multiple layers of PVA can increase the thickness of the protective barrier, offering better resistance against moisture. Ensure each layer dries thoroughly before applying the next.

Seal With A Topcoat

After applying PVA, you can add an additional waterproof topcoat. This can be a specialized waterproof paint or sealant.

This method essentially traps the PVA between the material and the topcoat, adding an extra layer of protection.

Improve Environmental Conditions

PVA’s effectiveness can be enhanced by controlling the environment in which it’s applied. Using dehumidifiers to reduce ambient moisture or heaters to ensure thorough drying can improve its water resistance.

Opt For Water-Resistant PVA Variants

Some PVA products are specifically formulated to be more water-resistant than others. Look for products labeled as “exterior grade” or “water-resistant.”

Combine With Acrylic

Acrylic sealers or binders can be mixed with PVA to give it more flexibility and water resistance. This combination is often seen in some paints and finishes.

Physical Barriers

Once PVA is applied, using physical barriers like tarps or covers can protect it from direct exposure to rain or moisture, giving the PVA more longevity.

Maintenance And Inspection

Regularly inspect surfaces or joints sealed with PVA for signs of wear, tear, or water damage. Promptly address any issues to maintain the integrity of the waterproofing effort.

While these methods can enhance the water-resisting capabilities of PVA, it’s crucial to remember that PVA, even when enhanced, may not match the waterproofing abilities of materials specifically designed for that purpose.

For critical waterproofing tasks, especially in areas with prolonged exposure to moisture, it’s advisable to use specialized waterproofing products.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. Can I use PVA as a primer before waterproofing?

Yes, PVA can be used as a primer on porous surfaces like concrete or plaster. It helps seal the surface, making the subsequent waterproofing layer more effective.

2. How can I enhance the water-resisting properties of PVA?

There are several methods, including mixing it with waterproof agents, applying multiple coatings, using it as a primer before a waterproof topcoat, or combining it with materials like acrylic.

3. Is PVA safe to use indoors?

Yes, PVA is generally non-toxic and safe to use indoors. However, always ensure good ventilation when working with any adhesive or sealant.

4. How long does PVA take to dry?

This can vary based on the product and environmental conditions, but typically, PVA takes a few hours to become touch dry. For a complete cure, it’s often recommended to wait 24 hours.

5. Can I use PVA for outdoor projects?

While PVA can be used for outdoor projects, it’s essential to note that it’s not entirely waterproof. If the project will be exposed to prolonged moisture or direct water, using a specialized outdoor adhesive or waterproofing agent is advisable.

6. What’s the difference between PVA and PVAc?

PVAc stands for polyvinyl acetate copolymer. While both PVA and PVAc are related and often used interchangeably in conversation, PVAc often refers to a broader range of polymers that are copolymerized with other substances.

7. How do I clean up PVA spills?

While PVA is still wet, it’s water-soluble, so you can clean up spills with warm, soapy water. Once it’s dry, it becomes more challenging to remove, and scraping or sanding might be necessary.


PVA is a versatile adhesive with a range of applications, its inherent water resistance doesn’t qualify it as a waterproofing agent.

Enhancements can be made to bolster its resistance to moisture, but for true waterproofing tasks, specialized materials are recommended.

Understanding the limitations and strengths of PVA ensures its effective and appropriate use in various projects.