Fabric protection is used to increase the lifespan of fabric by repelling as much dirt and stains as possible. It is commonly used on convertible roofs, seats, floormats and carpets. Fabric protection is most often done by applying a liquid.
Difference in fabric protection
In general, you could make the categorization between sealants and coatings. Although the coatings are not strictly based upon a ceramic component, it could be considered as a form of processing the product. One product might only need air to dry, another will need to addition of heat from an external source.
For example: some products are sprayed upon the surface, then just left to dry. They would generally be considered as sealants. Other products need to be dried with a hair dryer or paint dryer (application of heat from an external source) to dry. These would generally be considered as coatings. In real life terms, the difference lies in their durability and expected longevity. Coatings are often stronger and longer lasting then sealants.
Note that the use of the term “sealant” or “coating” might not be technically correct, seeing as both product are based on the use of polymers, which would make both sealants. The use of a ceramic component (SiO2, Si3D, SiH4 etc.) is very rare, which is the common factor to define a coating.
As above, the most common difference is the form of application. This list will give a very general idea of application. Read the label or check with the manufacturer to know how your products is best applied.
- Make sure the fabric you are working with is perfectly clean with no residues left
- Spray the surface with the product
- *Spread the product with a brush or roller (this also helps to saturate the fabric)
- After a few minutes, wipe the surface lightly with a clean towel
- Either let the fabric dry naturally, or use an external heat source (this could be a hair dryer, or a paint dryer with increased distance)
- Make sure the fabric has ample time to dry before it is exposed to dirt, liquids or other forms of contaminations
* = optional step, depends on product
How to know if it works
The form of protection has an effect, which basically means that it appears to repel water. This will not always work the same with other liquids, because there can be a difference in surface tension. A cleaning liquid will have a very different surface tension, and will probably not beads on protected fabric. To test wether the protective layer is still present, it is advised to clean the fabric (by vacuum or dry towel) and drop a few drops of water on the fabric. If the water is instantly absorbed, the protection may have failed.
Note that the level of contamination/dirt in the fabric can have a negative effect on the performance of the protective layer.