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If you do not know much about the different types of wipe clean fabrics available on the market, then you can be easily confused by the terms that get bandied about, especially when people interchange the terms. It is true that both products are made from PVC which adds to the confusion, however side by side there is a huge difference.

The coating

This is where a lot of the confusion comes from when describing fabrics as both use PVC in the process.

After the cotton fabric has been printed on to, it then gets a clear gloss coating of PVC to protect the cotton and print. Leaving a strong wipe clean finish.

PVC starts out as just plain white vinyl, which is then printed to create various patterns and designs. There is no coating process to protect the print, which is why these fabrics fade with time, due to wear.

In summary, oilcloth has a clear pvc coating to protect the cotton base, while PVC is just plain vinyl PVC which is then printed on to.

How to tell the difference

The easiest way to tell without actually feeling the fabric is by looking at the price. Oilcloth is more expensive than PVC – almost twice the price.

In the UK, quality oilcloth typically sells for around £15-£20 per meter depending on where you buy from.

Another sign that you are looking at oilcloth, when looking up close, is that the design appears to be underneath the coating. Where as with vinyl PVC, you can quite clearly see the design on the very surface.