Waterproof paper is paper that is intended to survive exposure to water without being damaged. When used in conjunction with waterproof ink, waterproof paper should actually be able to survive direct exposure to water without the paper or its contents being damaged or altered in any way. Some paper is made specifically to be waterproof; paper that is not designed to be waterproof can be put through one of a variety of processes to make it waterproof or at least water resistant. This type of paper is commonly used for purposes such as packaging, as packages often need to survive wet conditions. This special paper also is appropriate for maps and guidebooks, as many individuals use these items outdoors and in the wilderness when conditions can often be wet and unpleasant.
There are two particular methods commonly used to make waterproof paper. Some waterproof papers are made with thick, tightly-bound fibers that prevent water from saturating the paper. Such fibers prevent the paper from weakening, dissolving, or changing shape. Sometimes, coatings of various forms are used to make paper waterproof. Paper can be laminated with synthetic materials, such as plastics, which repel water and prevent the paper from being damaged.
Waterproof packaging paper is particularly important, as packages often contain objects which are susceptible to water damage. Most packages that need to be shipped from one location to another are made out of thick, layered materials, such as cardboard, which can repel or absorb a great deal of water but still remain functional. Some packages are wrapped and shipped with glossy materials, similar to the coatings placed on some paper, that repel water. It is also important that labels used for packaging are printed on waterproof paper. If they were not printed on waterproof paper, they could be destroyed or otherwise rendered unreadable if exposed to water.
Waterproof paper is also commonly used by individuals who need to use paper outdoors. Backpackers and hikers use maps to find where they are going; the maps need to survive some amount of moisture. People in the military also appreciate the durability of waterproof paper, as it can be used in many different environments. Maps and important communications can be sent on paper without risk of sustaining damage because of rain or other sources of moisture. People who work on boats or near bodies of water also use waterproof paper to reduce the risk of damage from splashing or submersion.