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Impervious vs. Impermeable: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed & Hifza Nasir || Updated on March 6, 2024
Impervious surfaces resist penetration by water without absorption, while impermeable materials block both water and vapor entirely.
Impervious vs. Impermeable

Key Differences

Impervious surfaces, such as concrete, are designed to resist water penetration due to their dense structure. On the other hand, impermeable materials, like rubber, not only resist penetration but also prevent the passage of water vapor, making them ideal for waterproofing.
Hifza Nasir
Hifza Nasir
Mar 06, 2024
While impervious surfaces can prevent water from passing through, they may still allow for the transmission of vapor to some degree. Impermeable materials, however, offer a complete barrier against both liquid and gaseous forms of water, ensuring a higher level of protection.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Mar 06, 2024
In construction, impervious surfaces are commonly used in areas where water runoff is managed, such as driveways and parking lots. Conversely, impermeable barriers are employed in situations requiring total moisture control, like in the construction of dams and foundations.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Mar 06, 2024
The environmental impact of impervious surfaces includes increased runoff and reduced groundwater recharge. In contrast, impermeable materials, while providing excellent moisture control, can also contribute to similar environmental issues if not properly managed in their application.
Hifza Nasir
Hifza Nasir
Mar 06, 2024
The choice between impervious and impermeable materials often depends on the specific needs of a project, including cost, environmental considerations, and the degree of water or vapor resistance required. While impervious surfaces are adequate for many construction needs, impermeable materials are necessary for projects demanding complete moisture isolation.
Hifza Nasir
Hifza Nasir
Mar 06, 2024
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Comparison Chart

Water Resistance

High, but allows some vapor passage
Absolute, blocking both liquid & vapor
Hifza Nasir
Hifza Nasir
Mar 06, 2024

Common Uses

Driveways, sidewalks, parking lots
Foundations, dams, waterproof liners
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Mar 06, 2024

Environmental Impact

Increases runoff, affects recharge
Similar, but with enhanced moisture control
Hifza Nasir
Hifza Nasir
Mar 06, 2024

Cost

Generally less expensive
More expensive, due to higher protection
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Mar 06, 2024

Ideal for

Managing surface water runoff
Complete moisture and vapor control
Dua Fatima
Dua Fatima
Mar 06, 2024
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Impervious and Impermeable Definitions

Impervious

Not allowing fluid to pass through.
The impervious layer of the roof kept the interior dry.
Hifza Nasir
Hifza Nasir
Mar 06, 2024

Impermeable

Blocking substances from passing through.
The impermeable barrier prevented contaminants from entering the area.
Hifza Nasir
Hifza Nasir
Mar 06, 2024

Impervious

Impermeable to water under specific conditions.
The impervious coating on the fabric protects against rain.
Hifza Nasir
Hifza Nasir
Mar 06, 2024

Impermeable

Completely resistant to water and air.
The jacket's impermeable fabric keeps you dry and warm.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Mar 06, 2024

Impervious

Unable to be penetrated by water.
The impervious surface of the patio prevented puddles from forming.
Hifza Nasir
Hifza Nasir
Mar 06, 2024
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Impermeable

Unaffected by external influences.
The safe was impermeable to any attempts at opening.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Mar 06, 2024

Impervious

Resistant to being influenced.
He remained impervious to their criticisms.
Dua Fatima
Dua Fatima
Mar 06, 2024

Impermeable

Offering complete protection against moisture.
The impermeable gloves are essential for chemical handling.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Mar 06, 2024

Impervious

Unaffected by pain or distress.
She seemed impervious to the cold.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Mar 06, 2024

Impermeable

Not permitting passage, especially of fluids.
The impermeable membrane ensured no water leakage.
Hifza Nasir
Hifza Nasir
Mar 06, 2024

Impervious

Incapable of being penetrated
A material impervious to water.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Impermeable

Impossible to permeate
An impermeable membrane.
An impermeable border.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Impervious

Incapable of being affected
Impervious to fear.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Impermeable

Impossible to permeate.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Impervious

Unaffected or unable to be affected by something.
The man was completely impervious to the deception we were trying.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Impermeable

Not allowing passage, especially of liquids; waterproof.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Impervious

Preventive of any penetration; impenetrable, impermeable, particularly of water.
Although patchworked and sagging, the roof proved impervious to the weather.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Impermeable

Not permeable; not permitting passage, as of a fluid. through its substance; impervious; impenetrable; as, India rubber is impermeable to water and to air.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Impervious

Immune to damage or effect.
The old car seemed to be impervious to the wear and tear of age.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Impermeable

Preventing especially liquids to pass or diffuse through;
Impermeable stone
An impermeable layer of scum
A coat impermeable to rain
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Impervious

Not pervious; not admitting of entrance or passage through; as, a substance impervious to water or air.
This gulf impassable, impervious.
The minds of these zealots were absolutely impervious.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Impervious

Not admitting of passage or capable of being affected;
A material impervious to water
Someone impervious to argument
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Repeatedly Asked Queries

Are all impervious surfaces also impermeable?

Not necessarily; impervious surfaces resist water penetration but may not block vapor completely.
Hifza Nasir
Hifza Nasir
Mar 06, 2024

What does impervious mean?

Impervious surfaces are those that water cannot penetrate, though they may allow some vapor transmission.
Hifza Nasir
Hifza Nasir
Mar 06, 2024

How does cost compare between impervious and impermeable materials?

Impermeable materials tend to be more expensive due to their comprehensive protection capabilities.
Hifza Nasir
Hifza Nasir
Mar 06, 2024

Can impervious materials contribute to flooding?

Yes, by preventing water from soaking into the ground, they can increase surface runoff.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Mar 06, 2024

Is asphalt impervious or impermeable?

Asphalt is generally considered impervious, as it prevents water penetration but not necessarily vapor.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Mar 06, 2024

What does impermeable mean?

Impermeable materials prevent the passage of both water and vapor, offering a complete barrier.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Mar 06, 2024

Why use impermeable materials in construction?

They provide total moisture control, essential in foundations, dams, and waterproofing applications.
Hifza Nasir
Hifza Nasir
Mar 06, 2024

Are there environmental benefits to using impermeable materials?

While they control moisture effectively, improper use can lead to similar environmental challenges as impervious surfaces.
Dua Fatima
Dua Fatima
Mar 06, 2024

What makes a material impermeable?

The structure and composition that block both liquid water and water vapor.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Mar 06, 2024

How do impervious surfaces impact groundwater?

They limit groundwater recharge by preventing water from infiltrating the soil.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Mar 06, 2024

Can impervious surfaces cause environmental issues?

Yes, they can increase runoff and reduce groundwater recharge, affecting local water cycles.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Mar 06, 2024

Do impervious surfaces affect urban heat?

Yes, they can contribute to the urban heat island effect by absorbing and retaining heat.
Dua Fatima
Dua Fatima
Mar 06, 2024

Is plastic impervious or impermeable?

Most plastics are impermeable, blocking the passage of both water and air.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Mar 06, 2024

What's the best way to manage water runoff from impervious surfaces?

Integrating green infrastructure, like rain gardens and permeable pavements, can help mitigate runoff effects.
Hifza Nasir
Hifza Nasir
Mar 06, 2024

Can impermeable materials breathe?

No, impermeable materials do not allow for the passage of air or vapor, providing a complete seal.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Mar 06, 2024

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About Author
Shumaila Saeed
Written by
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.
Hifza Nasir
Co-written by
Hifza Nasir

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