14 Common Kinds of Soles Used in Shoes

(The picture is from ASICS Official Website.)

There are many kinds of shoes soles available in the current market. The soles or shoes manufacturers must determine what performance and standards their products should meet and choose the materials for their manufacture. Of course, different shoes manufacturers have additional requirements for the shoes soles.

Generally speaking, for shoes manufacturers, the requirements for shoes soles include lightweight, low friction, firm grip, the stability of leather, a more extensive range of using temperature, and resistance to chemicals and oils, etc. Well, in the market, what are the common materials used in shoes?

Here is a detailed guide to the materials of the shoes soles.

1.GL(Genuine Leather)  

Genuine Leather shoes soles

Genuine leather is a shoe sole that can breathe automatically and drive the feet to live for shoe manufacturers. This shoe’s soles have good air permeability and do not tighten the feet. What’s more, the soles of the shoes can release the absorbed sweat to keep the feet dry.

Generally speaking, the genuine leather soles are easy to shape, have good elasticity and reduce impact. This shoe’s soles have good sweat absorption, cold resistance, folding resistance. At the same time, the shoes soles are easy to process and show aesthetic feeling, but the wear-resisting is average. The shoes soles are generally made of cow leather by shoes manufacturers, and the prices are higher.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of genuine leather shoes soles?


①It has good thermal insulation to ensure the proper temperature of the foot in the shoe.

②It has lightweight, for shoes manufacturers, with a weight of 0.95 ~ 1.05 grams per square centimeter of shoes soles, just the same as the density of water. It can be waterproof and release moisture when the shoes are no longer damp, keeping the shoe in a comfortable condition.

③The shoes soles do not break when bending 180 degrees with a unique three-dimensional fiber structure. As a result, it can quickly adapt to the foot’s shape, effectively support the impact of the ground, and more effectively protect the foot than the shoes soles made of other materials with the same thickness.


Although the genuine leather has a hard texture and is not easy to be pierced, it is easy to warp and deform or rot after being soaked in water or oil.


rubber shoes soles

The rubber shoes soles can be made of natural rubber or synthetic rubber for shoes manufacturers. As rubber is a high polymer compound, the shoes soles have high elasticity and wear resistance. Therefore, it can withstand multiple bending, stretching, and compressing without any damage and improve comfort and reaction speed. Besides, these shoe soles also have acid and alkali resistance, which is suitable to wear shoes with rubber soles on rainy days.

Natural rubber and synthetic rubber are respectively introduced below.

The advantage of natural rubber is that it is very soft and elastic and suitable for various sports shoes. Still, the disadvantage is also pronounced in that it is not wear-resistant. Natural rubber is widely used in indoor sport’s shoes.

Synthetic rubber is divided into abrasive rubber, environmental rubber, air rubber, sticky rubber, ebonite rubber, and carbon rubber.

(1) Abrasive rubber: good wear resistance and toughness. This kind of rubber material is generally used on the soles of tennis shoes.

(2) Environmental rubber: also known as recycled rubber for shoes manufacturers. These rubber shoes soles contain up to 10% recycled rubber, and their primary purpose is for environmental protection.

(3)Air rubber: rubber contains air, so it has shock absorption. But it hasn’t good wear resistance, so it is not widely used.

(4) Sticky rubber: good flexibility and anti-slip. It is generally used in indoor sport’s shoes.

(5) Ebonite rubber: tough, anti-skid and good wear resistance. So it has a wide range of uses. For example, multifunctional shoes and basketball shoes are mostly made of this kind of rubber.

(6) Carbon rubber: carbon is added to common rubber materials, making rubber more challenging and wear-resistant. This kind of rubber is used in most running shoes. And the letters of BRS are left on the back of the soles of running shoes to indicate that carbon rubber is used in the sole.

After the introduction of natural rubber and synthetic rubber, what are the advantages and disadvantages of rubber shoes soles?


①Good wear resistance, anti-slip, elasticity, and not easy to break.

②Good softness, good elongation and stable shrinkage.

③Good bending and good waterproof.


①Heavier weight; easy to spit frost (a shoes quality control problem); and not easy to corrosion (an environmental protection problem).

②Not hard, easy to be pierced.

③Not good air permeability and hygroscopicity. Be afraid of oil immersion. So it is not suitable to wear shoes with rubber soles in the place contacting with oil such as gas station.


Polyurethane shoes soles

The full name for PU is “Polyurethane,” which is a kind of polymer material made of A/B/C polyester foam and divided into two types of oil and water. It is a new organic polymer material known as “the fifth-largest plastic” for shoes manufacturers. These shoes soles are primarily used to manufacture high-quality leather shoes, sports shoes, travel shoes, etc.                  

What are the advantages and disadvantages of PU shoes soles?


①Low density, soft texture, good elasticity, and comfortable and light to wear.

②Good oxidation resistance, excellent wear resistance, flexural resistance, and high hardness.

③Excellent shock absorption and anti-skid performance.

④Good temperature resistance.

⑤Good chemical resistance.

⑥Conducive to environmental protection, and not easy to wrinkle.


①Strong water absorption, easy yellowing, uncomplicated fracture, and poor elongation.

②The shoes soles are not water-resistant, and the air permeability is poor.


EVA is "Ethylene Vinyl Acetate" shoes soles

The full name for EVA is “Ethylene Vinyl Acetate“, which is a kind of polymer material. For shoes manufacturers, the shoes soles made of EVA are commonly used in jogging, walking, casual shoes and training shoes. EVA shoes soles have high elasticity and tension resistance, high toughness, good shock resistance and buffer performance. In addition, it has a closed bubble hole structure, good moisture-proof, waterproof, and resistant to chemical corrosion of seawater, grease, acid, alkali, etc.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of EVA shoes soles?


①Good flexibility, good flexibility below 0℃, and not easy to wrinkle.

②Good chemical stability, anti-aging and ozone resistance, and no toxicity.

③Light weight and easy to process.

④It has excellent coloration, good cold resistance and is suitable for all kinds of climates.


①Easy to absorb water and easy to dirty.

②Not conducive to environmental protection,

③It is not wear-resistant, oil-resistant and folding resistant.

④Poor pressure resistance. The shoes’ soles are often easy to deform and not easy to rebound after pressing.


MD shoes soles

MD is a general term for secondary high-pressure molding products of EVA. MD is a kind of shoes soles material with lightweight, elasticity, and good anti-seismic performance. The foaming temperature controls the hardness. It can reduce the burden on the feet. MD shoes soles must contain EVA. MD shoes soles are also called Phylon shoes soles. For example, MD = EVA + RB or EVA + RB + TPR, and some shoes are RB + PU. It is the main material for running shoes, tennis shoes and basketball shoes in the world. It can also be used for leisure shoes.

For shoes manufacturers, if the soles of the shoes are too stiff or too thin, the impact of the ground directly acts on the foot, which makes the foot easy to fatigue and strain.

The MD shoes soles are soft and elastic and can disperse the impact evenly. However, each additional gram of shoe weight puts the same burden on the feet as adding tens of grams of weight to the human spine. Therefore, choose light and flexible shoes as far as possible to reduce the burden of the body.

In general, what are the advantages and disadvantages of MD shoes soles?


①Portability, flexibility, delicate appearance, good softness.

②Easy to clean.

③Good hardness, density, tensile force, tear and elongation.


①This shoe’s soles are not easy to corrode and are unfavorable to environmental protection.

②This shoes soles are easy to wrinkle and shrink at high temperature;

③The durability of shoes soles is poor. As long as it is used, there will reduce the shock absorption.

④The air permeability of shoes soles is poor.


TPR shoe soles

TPR shoe soles mainly refer to the modified name of SBS(one of the applications of TPR material). The shoes soles of TPR is a new type of polymer material mainly produced by thermoplastic SBS. It not only has the properties of rubber but also can be processed and recycled by thermoplastic plastic. It can be made into rubber products by injection molding, extrusion molding and blow molding with an ordinary plastic forming machine. For shoes manufacturers, the shoes soles of TPR are commonly used for jogging shoes, walking shoes, and leisure shoes.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of TPR shoes soles?


①Easy to shape and low price.

②The shoes soles of TPR are light, comfortable, high elasticity, easy coloring, and have good air permeability and high strength.

③High friction coefficient and firm grip.

④The shoes soles are lighter than PVC and rubber soles and have excellent low-temperature resistance.


①Heavy material and poor wear resistance.

②Poor softness and poor bending.

③Poor shock absorption and poor air permeability.


Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU) shoes soles

Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU) is a new type of environmental protection material. It is a linear polymer material formed by diisocyanate, macromolecular polyol and chain extender. Halogen-free flame retardant TPU can also replace soft PVC to meet environmental protection requirements in more and more fields. For shoes manufacturers, this kind of shoes soles is often used in softball shoes, baseball shoes, golf shoes, football shoes, women’s shoes, ski boots, safety boots, high-quality soles, etc.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of TPU shoes soles?


①This shoes soles have excellent wear resistance and flexing resistance, especially wear resistance.

②Resistance to oil, water and mold.

③Good appearance.


①The appearance of this shoes soles turns yellow quickly.

②It is easy to stick the mold in processing.

③It is harder, heavier and poorer in air permeability.

④Poor heat resistance, hot water resistance and compression resistance.


PVC shoes soles

PVC is a short name for Polyvinyl Chloride, commonly known as Plastic soles. Its natural color is yellowish, translucent and glossy. There will be albinism at the inflection. PVC adopts non-crystalline materials as raw materials, which have super high performance in oxidation resistance, strong acid-resistance and reduction resistance. PVC also has high intensity, and excellent stability is non-flammable and can resist corrosion caused by climate change and other phenomena.

Generally speaking, what are the advantages and disadvantages of PVC shoes soles?


①It can be reprocessed and has a low production cost.

②Corrosion resistance and oxidation resistance.

③Oil resistance, and wear resistance,

④Good insulation, and non-flammability,


①Poor anti-skid performance and poor texture.

②Not is resistant to cold and folding.

③Poor air permeability.


TR shoes soles

The shoes soles of TR are new products improved based on TPR. It is a synthetic material of TPE and Rubber. As a result, the products have more excellent performance of various indicators. The molecules are rolled spherically during the process of hot injection molding.

TR shoes soles have a rubberized look and feel and allow for a refined, smooth appearance (eliminating streamlines) and a high foaming ratio without the need for traditional TPR spray. As a result, RB is the critical material for TR shoes soles, and for Italian shoes manufacturers, RB is used in nearly 80% of TR shoes soles.

For shoes manufacturers, the shoes soles of TR can improve the wetting resistance, bending resistance, tear resistance, elasticity, etc., and can be 100% recycled, which is a sole environment-friendly material.

10.AL(Artificial Leather)

Artificial leather shoes soles

Artificial leather is a kind of typical rubber plastic material with high elasticity. The main component of this shoes soles is rubber as the base material, adding 10%~30% of high styrene to imitate the performance of genuine leather.

These shoe soles’ appearance is similar to the natural leather of shoe soles, with a grain surface pattern. When wearing, it is light, comfortable, noiseless, anti-skid and wear-resistant. This shoes soles have not only good elasticity but also have high hardness and rigidity. Its performance is very similar to that of natural leather.

For shoes manufacturers, although artificial leather has not the air permeability and moisture absorption of natural leather, it also has the advantages of good waterproof, windproof, cold resistance, and high utilization rate. Besides, in texture, color and luster, it is more advantageous than genuine leather.


BPU shoes soles

BPU is a new modified polyurethane (PU), which has the advantages of environmental protection, low density (ultra-lightweight), thick surface crust (smooth surface), good toughness, good texture, good hydrolysis resistance, strong plasticity, and so on. For shoes manufacturers, it can replace EVA shoes soles, EVA waterproof platform, wooden shoes, PVC foam bottom, etc. This kind of modified polyurethane material has the characteristics of temperature resistance and can be adjusted during degradation. It is a new green environmental protection material and in line with international environmental protection standards.

12.TEB(Thermoplastic Elastomer Bottom)

Thermoplastic Elastomer Bottom

Thermoplastic Elastomer Bottom, a light yellow translucent shoe sole, is named for its resemblance in color and shape to a cow’s hamstring. This kind of shoe sole is flexible, comfortable, a little heavy, wear-resistant and waterproof. It is widely used in leather shoes and sandals because of its solid and wear-resistant soles and softer than rubber soles.

TEB can be made of rubber or plastic for shoes manufacturers, but it is most convenient to use thermoplastic rubber (TPR). This kind of sole has a beautiful appearance, good elasticity and wear resistance, comfortable wear, and silent to walk. Therefore, it is a sole excellent material for travel shoes and daily life shoes for shoes manufacturers.

Here are some differences between Rubber for TEB and TPR for TEB.


①For a long time, there will be a layer of misty secretions on the white surface (some rubber gluten misty secretions may not appear in the current technological development).

②Cut a little material with a blade and ignite it with fire to make it black and gray. There is a bit of solid white left. It is challenging to drop when burning. There is a rubber odor and a little black smoke.


①Cut a little material with a blade and ignite it with fire. When burning, there is black smoke mixed with a bit of gray-green, there is a phenomenon of dripping, and there is a smell of glue. The burning time is a little faster than rubber, and there remains a little black solid coke.


①The material used as the shoes soles of TEB is generally superior.

②Anti-skid is very good to avoid sports injuries.

③Wear resistant. Although the shoes with TEB soles are relatively soft, they have good wear resistance.

④Good waterproof. Even in heavy rain weather, you also can not worry about the seepage and leakage of shoes.

⑤Soft heel, no trampling flat, and slight chance of shape change.

⑥The cost is moderate, and each pair of shoes cost about 20 yuan.

13.PC(Plantation Crepe)

Plantation Crepe (PC) shoes soles

Plantation Crepe (PC) is a general term for rubber without plastic and mixing. It is an important raw material for manufacturing rubber, including natural rubber and synthetic rubber. We call the wear-resistant PC sole is that here is cooked Rubber sole, which is processed by PC. It just looks like a PC. It’s just a mistake we made by the convention.

PC has low hardness and density. As a result, it is easy to break, not resistant to oil and heat, and easy to change color. Rubber is just the opposite, with better wear resistance and toughness, which is widely used in sport’s shoes. However, PC is only used to make low-grade daily necessities, such as slippers.

14.Composite Soles

Composite Soles shoes soles

Composite Soles are composed of several materials for shoes manufacturers. The shoes’ soles can be divided into several parts: heel and heel palm, film and stripe, and forefoot palm. Furthermore, according to the different functional requirements of other components, it can be combined with the advantages of the above materials.

Generally, for shoe manufacturers, composite soles’ cost is higher than that of all the above soles. The composite soles can combine TPU, TPR, PVC, EVA, PU, RB and other mixed materials.

Well, that brings us to the end of this article.

This article is to introduce the common materials used in shoes soles. I hope you can have a further understanding of the shoes. If you are looking for shoes manufacturers to make shoes or wholesale shoes or wholesale all kinds of shoes soles, you can contact us through email: andy.h@topfactoryshoes.com. Of course, if you have any questions, you can leave a message in the comments, we will answer for you. Thank you for your cooperation!

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