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Waterproof v Water Resistant v Showerproof… Explained!

Straightaway, we have now entered into the realms of controversy…  There’s so many pop up gazebos in the market that are described as ‘waterproof’ when in fact it is a million miles from the truth.

Firstly, there are several ways that manufacturers describe the canopy fabric and that’s either as the weight or thickness of the material.  This is associated with the level of waterproofing that it will provide.

For example, you’re likely to see terms such as ‘gsm’ and ‘denier’ in the listing or alternatively some manufacturers may provide numbers alongside such as 260gsm or 420D etc.

What does 260gsm mean?

To put it simply, 260gsm means that if you went up to your pop up gazebo and cut a 1 metre long and 1-metre wide square out of the fabric that claims to be ‘260gsm’, it would weigh 260 grams when placed on a set of scales.

260 is the ‘weight’ and the ‘gsm’ stands for grams per square metre, so for every sq metre of fabric, it will weigh 260 grams.

What does 420D mean?

Denier is a unit of measurement that is used to be able to explain to the buyer the level of thickness of individual fibres of a particular material, in this case, polyester and the material of the canopy top or side panels.

The higher the number the more densely woven the fabric is and once a PU or PE coating has been applied the higher number will provide much better resistance against water than a lower number.

However, this is where the controversy begins…

IMPORTANT! – There is not an industry set of standards that guides manufacturers towards when they can describe their pop up gazebo as ‘waterproof’.  

Currently, any manufacturer can call their pop up gazebo waterproof whether it is 120gsm or 320gsm or 120D v 420D even though there’s a distinct difference in thickness, weight and the ability to keep you dry.

This can lead to people inadvertently buying a pop-up gazebo that is not up to the job they want it for…  Which could lead to a waste of money or a ruined event, party and even injury?

Waterproof v Water Resistant v Showerproof v Rainproof

After reading the title, already I can feel you shaking…  Calm down, I’ll explain how I decipher between what’s waterproof, water-resistant, shower or rainproof.

It’s generally easier to go on how much you paid for your pop up gazebo.  Good quality shelters that are classed as ‘fully waterproof’ are not cheap and that’s a fact.

Very rarely can you find a manufacturer that can feasibly afford to sell ‘top of the range’ or ‘premium pop up gazebos’ for anything less than a hundred pounds…

What does Waterproof mean?

Waterproof means that the fabric or material is impervious to water which means that water will not pass through it and here’s an image I took from the google snippet to prove it.

You would normally expect to pay at least £150 and higher (dependant on the size) for a fully waterproof gazebo or rated 180gsm or higher.  Also. take a look at the steepness of the roof section as a ‘steep roof’ will mean the rainwater runs off quicker and therefore, the canopy will get rid of the water quicker and dry faster.


As with any fabric material that has a protective waterproof coating and is a product that has exposure to the sun, as well as frequent use, will experience degradation which will mean that the level of waterproofing will fade over time.

This can be several years later and can be fixed by using a waterproof tent spray to repair the affected area.

What does Water Resistant mean?

Rather than going into this too much, water-resistant is the poorer cousin of waterproof.  When something is water-resistant, it means that it is waterproof but only for so long.

google snippet for waterproof

Google snippet for waterproof

Therefore, you would expect to be protected against passing showers as well as short sharp downpours, however, long persistent rain and continuous torrential rain would be a definite no go area.

You will also find that the gsm and denier are of a much lower number than a waterproof canopy and the price to be less than £100 to buy.

Rainproof & Showerproof

I’ve always classed these as the same when it comes to gazebo canopies and that they can protect against light drizzle or a spot of rain but let’s be honest, we generally look to use a pop-up canopy in good weather anyway.

I’d expect these types of gazebos to be priced less than £50.