What Are PVC Work Boots & What Are They Used For?

Not all leather boots are built for dirty jobs. Some jobs that are exposed to certain types of chemicals, or certain types of terrain, need a boot built to handle that environment.

And while rubber boots make a lot of sense for dirty jobs, PVC boots are beginning to gain traction among those looking for an alternative option. What are PVC work boots?

PVC work boots are boots made of polyvinyl chloride, a plastic-based polymer, and formed by injection molding. This results in a boot that is highly waterproof and lightweight. PVC boots are less expensive than rubber boots, but they may deteriorate faster. 

It is very important to make sure that your work boot is built to handle the environment your throw at it. In this article let’s discuss some of the pros and cons of PVC boots, and how they compare to rubber boots.

Why Choose PVC Boots?

If you’ve recently started a new job at an outdoor job site or applying for employment in these industries and know you will need a waterproof work boot to keep your feet dry, you will want to consider PVC options.

Pros of PVC Boots

Here are some of the top reasons you might opt for a PVC boot:

  • Inexpensive – PVC is a synthetic material and costs much less to produce than other work boots made from rubber. Many of the rubber boots are more high-end, so if you are just starting a new job, it might make more sense to go for PVC.
  • Lightweight – The plastics used to make PVC are more lightweight than traditional rubber, so many workers who need to do a lot of walking in their job will often choose PVC because it is less taxing on the body. 
  • Waterproof – Many rain boots are also made from PVC because the material is 100% waterproof, and injection molding means there are no seams to leak. If your job involves going into the outdoors where you might be exposed to a lot of water, then it will make more sense to stick with PVC.
  • Chemical Protection – The protection that a PVC boot offers can vary style to style, but in general, PVC boots are often used for dirty jobs that may need some sort of chemical protection

To see a list of our favorites, visit our article about the best PVC boots.

Cons of PVC Work Boots

Below is a list of reasons you may want to rethink purchasing PVC boots if given a choice.

  • Don’t Last as Long – Even though you may get a fair amount of use from your PVC boots, there isn’t a comparison in long-term durability to rubber boots. If you want to invest in a pair that will last you years, rubber is the way to go.
  • Not Biodegradable – Since PVC is a fully synthetic material, it will stay in dumpsites longer and have a harder time degrading. Because rubber is 100% natural, it is much better for the environment.
  • Not as Flexible – Rubber boots can be more malleable and move with your foot as you move. But that’s not the case with PVC because of its rigidity, so rubber tends to be a more comfortable option. In a cold environment, PVC boots may be quite stiff. For the cold, visit our article about the best insulated steel toe rubber boots.

What Type of Jobs Use PVC Boots?

PVC boots are quite common in jobs that are exposed to wet terrain and/or jobs that work with chemicals, fertilizers, or other types of potentially hazardous materials. Of course, PVC boots do not necessarily protect you against all hazardous materials, and you will always want to confirm that PVC boots are suitable for your job.

PVC boots are quite common in:

  • Custodial
  • Farming & Agriculture
  • Poultry & Food Processing
  • Oil rigs
  • Fishing & Wildlife

Outdoor jobs that consistently work in wet terrain will also turn to PVC boots as a possible solution, even if they are not on the list of jobs posted above. Even for common tasks like painting the house, washing the car, planting the garden, PVC boots can make sense.

What Kind of PVC Boots Are There?

Knowing what kinds of PVC boots there are will ultimately help you make a better decision on what’s best for your style of work, the worksite, and your level of comfort. Certain boots will meet specific regulations set by your job site, so make sure always to check what your job requires. 

Plain Toe

These PVC boots are made without extra reinforcement around the toe area, which means it will be softer and more pliable. 

Ultimately, you will need to check with the safety requirements of your job to see if plain toe boots are allowed. Plain toe boots are more comfortable to wear, but they obviously won’t offer as much protection as a safety toe boot. 

Steel Toe

Yes, you can buy steel toe PVC boots. You will want to make sure that safety toe does meet the requirements for your job.

One positive about steel toe PVC boots, is since PVC is a ligther-weight material, it helps keep the overall weight of the boot down despite being a safety toe boot.

Chemical Resistant 

Depending on the type of job you have, it might be necessary to get yourself a chemically resistant boot. If you work with harsh chemicals or cleansers, you’ll need a boot that resists burning and melting, as well as keeps you contaminant-free. 

PVC boots are resistant to a range of chemicals, and certain models may be reinforced with additional layers to add to your foot protection. That’s another way of saying, the amount of chemical protection a PVC boot offers can vary boot to boot.

If your job requires chemical-resistant footwear, make sure you look for this feature and check that PVC will protect your foot from the particular hazards on your site. 

PVC Boots vs Rubber Boots

There is a reason that rubber boots are more expensive than PVC boots. The quality you are purchasing can’t be matched by a synthetic material when getting some boots that will hold up in rough job conditions. 

Here’s how PVC and rubber compare side-by-side: 


As we mentioned earlier, it basically comes down to this: PVC boots are lighter in weight, but less flexible, and can wear out quicker.

Although there are subtle differences, in most cases, PVC boots are a more-affordable alternative to rubber boots. It just depends how you feel about long term durability and comfort.

I’ve worn both, and to me the small bit of stiffness that comes with a PVC boot doesn’t bother me. But for certain jobs, or certain climates, it can be an issue.

PVC Boots Can Last Longer Than You Think

Yes, PVC boot generally will not hold up as long as rubber boots, but there are a few things you can do to help improve the life of your boots. Here are some suggestions:  

  • Wear them for work only – Have dedicated pairs of shoes for when you aren’t working so that you don’t have to use the same work boots for every activity every day. This will keep them much more fresh and available when it’s time to do the hard work. And you don’t risk bringing the conditions of the worksite home with you, either. 
  • Clean regularly – A buildup of gunk and dirt will deteriorate your boots faster than if you keep up with them regularly. Make sure to take a washcloth or scrub and clean your boots once a week, so they remain clean and free of buildup. This should allow you to extend your shoes for several months without needing to buy a new pair.
  • Proper storage – When you come home after a long hard day of work, make sure to store your boots away properly. Don’t keep them in the same work bag all day long because they will end up growing bacteria and fungus from moisture, and you won’t be able to use them as long as boots you kept nice and dry.
  • Spray Them Down – If you work, for example, in a custodial job and your PVC boots are exposed to household cleaning supplies, giving them a quick rinse with water will help wash away those chemical and protect the boot.

Following these simple steps can keep your PVC boots looking fresh and new for many more months – as a bonus, you save some money by taking proper care of them and extending their life span. 

Paul Johnson

Paul is a lead content creator for Workwear Command. He has had several blue-collar jobs which have provided him a wide range of experience with tools and gear. He also has a business degree and has spent time in business casual office settings.

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