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What is the difference between oilcloth and PVC vinyl tablecloths?

When it comes to choosing a tablecloth, you have two main options: oilcloth and PVC vinyl. Both materials are waterproof, making them ideal for protecting your table from spills and stains. But they also differ in some key ways that can help you decide which material is right for your needs. This article will explore the differences between oilcloth and PVC vinyl so you can make an informed decision about which one will best suit your needs.

Material Composition

Decorating your table for a special occasion doesn’t have to be a hassle, and there are two tablecloth types that make it easy. However, it's important to note that oilcloth and vinyl are different in this regard and you need to get one that fits you better. Understanding this is very important for getting the right cover.

Oilcloth is made of 100% cotton that is coated with a flexible plastic layer. As a result, the oilcloth offers higher breathability than its PVC counterpart, making it resistant to water stains and easier to clean. PVC vinyl tablecloths are generally composed of similar cotton material, but offer a softer fabric feel, with a non-porous outer coating that also ensures waterproofing. Ultimately, the best material for you comes down to personal preference.


Oilcloth is often characterized as having a slicker, waxier feel while PVC vinyl offers more of a matte, grainy texture. When put to the touch test, the oilcloth really does have a smoother slip-and-slide action on the skin, while PVC vinyl has almost more friction when you drag your finger over it.

Depending on the mood you want to create at your table setting –for instance hominess or sophistication — one material might be better than the other for achieving that atmosphere. Whether you’re a cloth or plastic person, it pays to keep texture in mind when you’re choosing which one is right for you.


If you’re looking for a great table covering, you may want to consider these two options as they offer different advantages for different needs. Here are the best uses for oilcloth:

  • outdoor dining
  • kitchen and dining areas
  • children’s areas
  • crafts and DIY projects
  • decorations
  • events and parties

On the other hand, PVC vinyl tablecloths are an inexpensive way to protect tables from scratches and spills as they can easily be wiped clean. Here are the most common uses:

  • indoor dining
  • outdoor events
  • protection
  • retail displays

Plus they come in an array of colors and styles. Both have their place in a contemporary home - it just depends on your particular preference and situation!


Oilcloths and PVC vinyl tablecloths have differing appearances due to the materials used in their production. The first one is a light canvas fabric that has been treated with oil or wax, creating a textile that has a brilliant shine and vibrant colors. Vinyl, on the other hand, is a faux cloth material with a matte finish. It does not absorb liquids as much as oilcloth fabrics, but its glossy sheen can create an equally attractive effect for those who prefer minimalistic styling in their table settings.

Both are available in numerous colors and prints, allowing for unique design elements regardless of preference. Ultimately, each choice has its individual look and appearance that determine which will be best considered for any given table setting.


Oilcloth is a sturdy, durable fabric that is perfect for tablecloths. It is made of tightly woven cotton fabric that has been coated with a clear polymer finish. This makes it resistant to stains and easy to clean. PVC vinyl tablecloths are also durable, but they are not as heavyweight as oilcloth. They are made of a lightweight plastic material that is coated with a clear vinyl finish. This makes them easy to wipe clean, but they can be punctured more easily than oilcloth.

Cleaning And Maintenance

When choosing the best tablecloth for your home, there are a few factors to consider – one of which is cleaning and maintenance. While oilcloth has become increasingly popular over recent years for its relative ease of cleaning and durability, it remains vulnerable to staining, particularly if liquids are left to sit on its surface.

On the other hand, PVC vinyl tablecloths come with their own advantages when it comes to maintaining them; water-repellent shells make spills and messes much easier to handle while giving off a distinctive personalized look. For those looking for an easy clean option that also looks good, PVC vinyl is undoubtedly an excellent choice.

Environmental Impact

As people become increasingly aware of the importance of making eco-friendly decisions, they are looking more closely at their household purchases. Oilcloths and PVC vinyl tablecloths have similar looks and use but differ drastically in their environmental impact.

The prior is made with a simple cotton base, coated with linseed oil which gives it long-lasting waterproof features. The production process involves minimal energy but leaves a carbon footprint as the cotton is grown and processed chemically to ensure an even coating of oil on its surface.

On the other hand, PVC vinyl tablecloths require massive amounts of energy in their production process and emit harmful pollutants like dioxin, carbon monoxide, hydrochloric acid, and other volatile organic compounds into the environment during manufacturing — leaving behind a large negative environmental footprint. So when it comes to considering which material to use for your next tablecloth purchase, consider your impact on the environment and go for an oilcloth!

Heat Resistance

Those who have ever hosted a potluck know how important the right tablecloth can be to making it a successful event. While many people turn to oilcloth and PVC vinyl when selecting this essential cooking companion, it is important to keep in mind that they differ significantly in heat resistance. Specifically, while oilcloth may be satisfactory for everyday usage, its polyester backing often cannot handle higher heat and has been known to scorch easily.

On the flip side, PVC vinyl tablecloths are excellent at withstanding temperatures up to 180 degrees celsius — far better suited for larger parties that involve hot food. Given this knowledge, consider the needs of your event when picking out your tablecloth and enjoy the festivities with optimal protection!

These tablecloths offer many advantages, with each material providing unique benefits. Oilcloth is known for its classic look and superior durability, while PVC brings excellent heat resistance to your dining experience. Both materials can be wiped down for easy cleaning, although PVC may require more intense scrubbing due to its glossy finish. Furthermore, the oilcloth is the only environmentally friendly option since it does not release harmful toxins into the environment during production or use. Whether you prefer a vintage style or a modern appeal, these materials provide quality and versatility for all your tablecloth needs!