A Guide To PVC Tablecloths

Not just grey PVC Tablecloths for UK Weather

Whether you’re planning a corporate event, outdoor celebration or anything else that may require table dressing, a vinyl tablecloth is the first place to start. Those new to events planning may not realise that there is so much more out there than just a plain white PVC tablecloth, and if you’re after aesthetics as well as functionality, then oilcloth material is a good place to start.

But before we get into that – let’s get a better understanding of exactly what vinyl tablecloths are.

What is PVC vinyl tablecloth?

PVC stands for polyvinyl chloride, though it’s most commonly referred to as polyvinyl, or colloquially, vinyl. It’s hard to imagine that the same material used to play old records could reinvent itself as a black and white PVC tablecloth, but such is its versatility!

PVC is the third most widely produced plastic polymer on the planet. A polymer is the scientific way of referring to a large molecule made up of many smaller units – it comes in two forms, synthetic and natural, and as such is extremely useful in manmade applications. While vinyl table covers are made from PVC, other everyday synthetic polymers include polyethylene (used for a number of applications, including the ever more valuable humble plastic bag!) and polypropylene, which you’ll find in packaging, particularly for high heat products.

We mentioned the records above – this makes up one of two of PVC’s applications: the rigid form, while the other form is flexible. That’s the type you’ll find being used for tablecloth vinyl.

How long have vinyl PVC tablecloths been used?

The earliest recorded application of PVC was in the Victorian times, when it was discovered by French physicist and chemist Henri Victor Regnault in 1838. It was first used as a hardwearing material for pipes, but it was not until many years later that it became used in more widespread applications.

By the early 1900s, PVC was used more frequently to replace rubber, which had become expensive, and it became even more ubiquitous into the Second World War and the 1950s. By the 1960s, it was being used in latex, on inflatable structures, in pipes, and of course, for tablecloths.

The versatility of tablecloths – vinyl PVC wipe clean tablecloths

Unlike synthetic, permeable fabric, a vinyl table covering can be used both indoors and outdoors. If you’re hosting an outdoor event and suddenly find yourself at the mercy of British weather, PVC wipe tablecloths can be your saviour! They’re easy to store and won’t require hours of drying if they do get wet.

Ideal for outdoor events

Better still, for use in event applications, table cloth vinyl makes light work of spills and other accidents. Consider them in use at a pop-up bar, for example. If your bartender inevitably overfills a pint of beer, there’s no issue of staining or hassle over clean-up: a simple damp cloth will have it sparkling again in no time.

This can prove to be a huge time and money saver for events and catering managers – rather than spending hours arguing over dry cleaning bills, a cost-effective cloth will solve the problem instantly.

Hard-wearing for multiple applications

There’s a reason that vinyl is the polymer of choice for so many applications – primarily, it can be recycled up to seven times, and can last up to 140 years! An added bonus, particularly for the aforementioned outdoor events, is that it has a strong resistance to many chemicals, as well as sunlight and oxidation from water.

Weddings, events or even household occasions all present a variety of hazards that other tablecloth materials simply cannot withstand. Candle fires, accidental rips, wax spills and chemical spills can all wreak havoc on a traditional cloth fabric. PVC does not burn; it is non-permeable, highly heat-resistant and can peel away from wax easily.

A variety of colours and designs

You may be thinking that PVC coverings don’t offer much in terms of aesthetics. But a vinyl table cover doesn’t have to be boring – just as you can have a selection of colours and embroidery styles for cotton or polyester tablecloths, you also have free rein with your vinyl table covering!

How is this made possible?
Oilcloth is the solution. This combines the above mentioned printed cotton fabrics with a hot melt vinyl plastic. A print design is coated with PVC for a wipe-clean finish. This provides the same flexibility you’d expect from the non-rigid form of PVC, together with the design that suits your chosen application.

Uses of oilcloth

You might find yourself wanting to theme your own wedding with a particular design, combined with the functionality of a non-permeable fabric. An oilcloth tablecloth is a great choice for this, while there are plenty of other functions for oilcloth too.

If you’re into interior design, for example, you could explore cushion covers or keepsake box lining. With the same hardwearing properties and scope for gorgeous design, the possibilities are endless!

Of course, depending on your function, you may want to go with a plainer design – grey PVC tablecloth, for example, provides a uniform finish that can be used in contrast with many other colour schemes. Grey is a great base colour, as are black and white, though black is best used for indoor events so as not to absorb too much sunlight and heat.

Explore our range of tablecloth options

For more inspiration on how to style your home or event, search vinyl tablecloth UK and speak to one of our advisers at Only Oilcloths. We can provide advice on the cut of your fabric, the application, and design, whether it’s a simple grey PVC table cloth or a more elaborate printed design.

Technology has advanced enormously since the Victorian times to afford us everything from functional plain colour table coverings to spotty, floral and even map-printed oilcloth! For a material that’s hardwearing, versatile, attractive and resistant to the elements, choose PVC for your next tablecloth. Contact the Only Oilcloths team today to see just how much choice you can have.