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Quality Nylon Rope

What Type of Rope Do I Need? [27 Common Uses]

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rope types and their use

What kind of rope do I need? 

This seems to be a popular question, so we figured we'd answer it in great detail! 

With such a varied selection of rope out there it can be difficult to determine which one is right for a particular application. 

I mean, from climbing rope to knot-tying rope, anchor rope, flagpole rope and more, there are plenty of uses, each requiring the RIGHT rope. 

To help you decide which rope you'll need for your job, our team at Quality Nylon Rope has put together a comprehensive guide outlining different kinds of rope, their different properties, and common uses.

In addition, we have 27 common uses below with the best (and worst) rope for each use.

Polypropylene

When you need a rope that can withstand a wet climate, polypropylene is a good rope to consider.

Strengths

Polypropylene is a lightweight rope that does not absorb water. It is resistant to oils, mold, mildew, and most chemicals.

As such, polypropylene is an ideal rope for certain marine applications. For example, because this rope floats in water, it is often used to create swimming lanes.

Weaknesses

Polypropylene rope is an effective, economical choice for many projects. However, it does have certain properties that put restrictions on its applications.

Because polypropylene rope melts at a low temperature, it can deteriorate quickly in the sun. It has low UV resistance and low abrasion resistance.

Also, it is important to note that polypropylene has a low resistance to stretch (i.e. it will not return to its original size after being stretched out). However, depending on the nature of your project, this can be an advantage or disadvantage.

Common uses

  • Marine applications (anchor, docking, swimming lanes, boating)
  • Exercise (Cross-fit)
  • Outdoor use such as camping 
  • Electrical work 
  • Applications requiring stretch 

Polypropylene rope is available at QNR in numerous sizes and more than five colors. Find the right match for your next job here.

Manila

Manila rope is often what one thinks of as a “traditional rope.” (If you imagine a classic, “tug-of-war” rope, that’s manila!)

Strengths

Manila is an effective rope for many jobs because it is both durable and flexible. Unlike many types of synthetic ropes, it does not have a tendency to haphazardly snap. Manila rope is also strong in that it will not melt easily.

Consider using manila rope for projects like pulling or landscaping.

In addition to its industrial strength, manila rope is also very visually appealing. It is common to use this rope for home decoration and DIY projects

Weaknesses

To match the right rope with the right job, it is not recommended to use manila rope for marine applications (polypropylene is a better choice!), as this kind of rope will shrink when wet.

Common uses

  • Decorations 
  • Gardening 
  • Rope Ladder
  • Exercise (climbing, tug of war, obstacles)
  • Crafts 

Also referred to as jute, you can shop for manila rope in five different sizes here at QNR.

Polyester

There are many different kinds of synthetic ropes. But for many projects, polyester rope may have a leg up on its counterparts. Here’s why.

Strengths

Like some other types of synthetic ropes, polyester rope is UV resistant and abrasion resistant. However, it has one strength that polypropylene rope and nylon rope lack: stretch resistance.

Also, unlike nylon rope, polyester rope retains its strength when wet. As such, polyester rope is often used for sailing applications, such as rigging.

Polyester is the best all-around winner for UV stability, abrasion and rot resistance along with cost. And, the largest amount of solid colors available for industrial grade fibers is polyester.

Weaknesses

Polyester is an all-around very effective choice of rope for many different project. Keep in mind, however, that polyester rope does not float.

Common uses

  • General use
  • Outdoors 
  • Industrial use
  • Marine use 
  • Sailing/rigging

For your next job, find the exact polyester rope you’re looking for. At QNR, polyester rope is available in over a dozen colors and eight different diameters. Browse our selection here.

Nylon

Polypropylene and manila are the desired ropes for many projects, but if you need a rope that is stronger than both of them, look to nylon.

Strengths

Nylon is wear resistant, UV resistant, and rot resistant. Moreover, one of nylon’s greatest advantages is that it can maintain its superior strength while still being very flexible.

Nylon rope can be the right choice for countless different projects, but it is especially practical for making towing lines, anchor lines, or pulleys.

Weaknesses

If you’re looking for a rope for marine applications, you’ll want to go back to looking at polypropylene. Unlike polypropylene, nylon rope sinks in water and its strength becomes compromised when wet.

Also, take caution with certain projects because nylon rope is susceptible to degradation in high temperatures.

Common uses

  • Towing
  • Anchors 
  • Tie-downs 
  • Knot-tying  
  • Strength-related applications 


At QNR, you can browse twisted or solid braid nylon rope in a variety of different sizes. Find which kind of nylon rope you need here.

Kevlar

If you’re looking for a rope that is stronger than all of the rest, Kevlar might be your preferred choice. In fact, this rope is used in bulletproof armor!

Strengths

Kevlar rope is most noted for its superior strength. It is flame, freeze, rust, stretch, water, and chemical resistant. It can also withstand temperatures of up to 500 degrees before it starts to weaken.

In fact, Kevlar rope is so strong that it is stronger than steel, pound-for-pound. 

Due to its immense strength and its ability to withstand extreme temperatures, Kevlar is an excellent choice for applications at land or at sea.

Weaknesses

When it comes to Kevlar rope, it is important to keep one thing in mind: Kevlar has great tensile strength, but poor compression strength. This means that Kevlar can withstand an intense pulling force, but it cannot well withstand an intense pressing force (i.e. it is not resistant to “being squished”).

By itself, Kevlar offers poor UV resistance - so we cover it in polyester! The NASA-grade fiber is very light weight and has low stretch.

Common uses

  • Extreme temperatures 
  • High-strength applications
  • Non-stretch applications

Do you have a job that requires a super strong rope like Kevlar? Find your desired size and color Kevlar rope here at Quality Nylon Rope.


Still unsure? Here are some common uses and the rope best-suited for the job: 


Knot-tying: Nylon 

Although any rope can technically be used to tie a knot, some are just too stiff, stretchy and generally unpleasant to handle. When tying knots, strength is not an important consideration, but rather the flexibility of the rope is. 

For tying knots we'd recommend you use Nylon Rope based on its synthetic fibers. It's perfect for the basic types of knots. For more intricate knots, we'd go with Manila Rope as it holds knots quite well and works best for teaching. 

Use: Nylon Rope, Manila Rope 

Avoid: Polypropylene Rope 

Outdoor Use: Polyester 

Although this rope won't do well in an industrial environment, Polyester Rope is great for the outdoors. Not only is it UV resistant and durable, its strength won't be affected by water. 

Manila Rope is also a good choice for the outdoors, specifically hiking or campaign. It ties easily, resists damage from sunlight, and maintains its strength over time. 

Use: Polyester Rope, Manila Rope 

Avoid: Kevlar rope

Dock Lines: Nylon 

When it comes to dock lines you need a strong rope that will stretch, absorb shock and hold up over time. A synthetic fiber like Nylon will do just the trick. 

Keep in mind when selecting rope for dock lines it's important to consider how you'll be using it. Will you be using it away from your home port, or for your permanent slip? This  article from westmarine.com explains how to select rope for your dock line in much greater detail. 

Use: Nylon Rope, Polypropylene Rope 

Avoid: Sisal Rope 

Tie-downs: Nylon 

It's ability to stretch while maintaining tremendous strength makes Nylon Rope the perfect choice for tie-downs. 

In addition, Nylon Rope is UV and chemical resistant, so its strength and elasticity will not be affected in most environments. 

Keep in mind - Nylon will lose a little bit of strength when exposed to water, but not enough to really make it noticeable.  We recommend the braided 1/4' for additional strength and less stretch.

Use: Nylon Rope

Avoid: Polypropylene Rope 

Towing: Nylon 

If you’re towing something, strength will obviously be your number one consideration when shopping for quality rope. Shock absorption and rope thickness should also be accounted for. With that in mind, we’d recommend Nylon Rope.

Use: Nylon Rope

Avoid: Polypropylene Rope, Manila Rope, Cotton Rope

Flagpoles: Polyester

Shopping for flagpole rope? Look no further, Polyester is the perfect option for halyards. It has low-stretch, in addition to excellent UV and abrasion resistance. 100 ft. will do just the trick for a 50 ft. pole, and 1/3 and 5/16 are the most common diameters. Buy your flagpole rope  here.

Use: Polyester Rope

Avoid: Polypropylene Rope

Macrame: Cotton

For macramé, you’ll want a solid braided rope that’s easy on the hands and knots easily. Cotton will work just fine.

Maggie May at themiddleasile.com suggests buying two ropes of different thicknesses, and giving each a try. Read more about buying macramé rope in her article here.

Use: Cotton Rope, Polyester Rope

Avoid: Polypropylene Rope, Sisal Rope

UV Resistance: Polyester

Like your skin, rope also needs protection from the sun. Although UV resistance might not be the first thing on your mind when it comes time for your outdoor project, maintaining the integrity of the rope you use is important.

For the outdoors, we’d recommend Polyester or Nylon rope.

Use: Polyester Rope

Avoid: Polypropylene Rope, Cotton Rope

Clothesline: Polyester

When searching for a rope for your clothesline, you’ll want to go with Polyester. It has excellent UV resistance and will last a long time.

Use: Polyester Rope

Avoid: Polypropylene Rope

Strength: Nylon Rope

There’s a reason Nylon rope is used to pull some of the heaviest loads. Its outstanding strength paired with its stretch makes it the rope of choice for anyone looking for strength in a rope.

Nylon is wear resistant, UV resistant, and rot resistant, making it perfect for towing, pulleys, or anchor lines.

Use: Nylon Rope

Avoid: Cotton Rope, Sisal Rope, Manila Rope

Non-stretch: Kevlar

Kevlar is your best option when you need a rope that doesn’t stretch. Because Kevlar breaks down faster than polyester when used outdoors, we have jacketed the Kevlar with polyester fibers to make it last longer. This rope is virtually no stretch and is also very strong.

Use: Kevlar Core, Polyester Rope

Avoid: Polypropylene Rope, Nylon Rope

Stretch: Polypropylene

Need a rope with some stretch? A solid or mixed fiber braid or twisted rope style will ensure some ‘give’ under pressure. Going outdoors? KnotRite Nylon has plenty of stretch and will last much longer outdoors than polypropylene.

Use: Polypropylene Rope, Nylon Rope

Avoid: Polyester Rope, Kevlar Rope

Durability: Polyester

Polyester is a great choice for any project where durability is a requirement. Heck, polyester is a great choice for just about anything around the house. Not only will this synthetic fiber retain its strength when exposed to water, it will also hold up nicely under sunlight.

Use: Polyester Rope

Avoid: Cotton Rope, Sisal Rope, Manila Rope

General Use: Polyester

Polyester rope is the world’s leader in affordable, outdoor utility applications. If you need a general purpose rope to have handy around the house, Polyester is your best option. 1/4” Solid Braid is the most common style.

Use: Nylon Rope

Avoid: Cotton Rope 

Scratching Post: Sisal

Need to give your feline companion something to scratch up besides your furniture? Sisal will do just the trick. It's cheap and super durable. It also has a rough texture, like tree bark, making it highly appealing to cats. And unlike fabric or carpet, you don't have to worry about a scratching post made of Sisal leaving a mess in your living room. 

Use: Sisal Rope

Avoid: Manila Rope 

Farming: Polyester

If you're working on a farm, strength, stretch and the ability to easily tie and untie will certainly be considerations. With that in mind, we'd recommend a solid braided polyester rope, which provides a firm (but not too firm) texture and the ability to easily tie and untie. 

Use: Polyester Rope,

Avoid: Polypropylene Rope

Marine Use: Polyester

There are many uses for rope in marine industries. Netting and towing, for example, are just a few of the needs for rope, and there are certainly many more.Use: Polyester Rope,

Use: Polyester Rope

For marine use, we recommend a solid braid style polyester rope! This rope will not shrink when wet, like nylon. It is also UV stable, abrasion resistant and inexpensive. And unlike cotton, it is mold and chemical resistant.

Avoid: Cotton 

The worst rope for marine use is cotton. As cotton is a natural fiber, it absorbs water and moisture easily. In an environment where your rope is constantly subjected to the elements, this rope just won’t do. If you use cotton rope for your marine use, you may find it rots pretty quickly. 

Boat Rope: Polyester

Boats and rope go together like PB and J. Anchor rodes, mooring lines, rigging, winches, block and tackles - you use rope for all of it. Check out this  post our team wrote to get more detail on the best rope for boating. 

Use: Polyester Rope

For boat use, we recommend polyester rope as well. Polyester rope wears well, is strong enough for all your boating needs, and will retain its strength when wet. It’s doesn’t stretch much either, making it perfect for rigging, anchor rodes and towing lines. 

Avoid: Cotton

Just like marine use, the worst rope for boats is cotton. As the lines used for boating are often fully submerged in water, cotton is just too absorbent. These cotton ropes will soak up the moisture, rot or become brittle. You’ll need a more durable option for boats. 

Cross-fit: Polypropylene/Polyester

Two of today’s hottest workout trends, Battle Rope and Crossfit offer full body strength and cardio training. These workouts can do wonders for your health and well-being, so it’s important to make sure you have the right equipment!

Use: Polypropylene or Polyester Rope

For Battle Rope and Crossfit, we recommend polypropylene or polyester rope. You can get a thick twisted braid, which will provide strength and weight for your workout. Workout ropes should be fluid, but should not stretch much. This material offers low moisture susceptibility and easy clean up.

Avoid: Cotton

The worst type of rope for Battle Fit/Cross-fit training is any type of organic fiber. We’ve touched on the fact that cotton rope absorbs moisture, and that is true for most organic fiber ropes. When you’re working out hard and breaking a sweat, you’re not going to want a rope to soak it all up. Organic fiber rope is also very hard to clean, so things might start to smell after a while.

Braiding: Synthetic Fiber

Braided rope, whether it’s single strand or multi-strand, is widely known as the most durable and strongest construction of rope. The braid reduces the stretch of the rope and makes it thicker, making it perfect for many applications. 

While there are many types of rope, there are some types that suit this composition and some that really don’t.

Use: Synthetic Rope

Avoid: Natural Fiber (Manila, Sisal)

Camping: Polypropylene/Polyester

When you’re out camping, you’ll need rope for climbing, securing your items, or even just making a clothesline. Everything you take on a camping trip needs to serve that utilitarian, multi-function need, and for that reason we suggest you bring a true multi-purpose rope.

Use: Polypropylene or Polyester Rope

The best camping rope is probably polypropylene or polyester rope. You can get either of these ropes in braided or twisted form, and they’ll both hold a knot well. Polyester and polypropylene are both hydrophobic, eliminating moisture concerns too.

Also polypropylene is one of the cheapest rope options, so you’re getting a strong, lightweight, flexible, and chemical resistant rope for a low cost - what a bargain! However, polyester tends to last longer than polypropylene, so keep that in mind during your decision making process.

Avoid: Cotton

When you’re camping, the last type of rope you want to have with you is cotton. For most rope needs, the moisture absorbency is a real issue. If you’re outdoors and dealing with all sorts of weather, you want your rope to be resistant to the elements.

Hammock: Cotton/Polyester

What’s better than a hammock under the sun, on a warm summer day? Nothing! However, if you don’t want your relaxing afternoon ruined, you’d better make sure your hammock is securely fastened.

Use: Cotton or Polyester Rope

We recommend cotton or polyester rope to hang your hammock. Cotton will have a nice feel for your hands, but as it is an organic material, it will breakdown over time. For a longer-term solution, go with polyester. Generally polyester has low elongation, but with the right weave, it can “give” enough to be a comfortable option. Try the ⅛” and 3/16” cordage diameters if you’re considering this option.

Avoid: Polypropylene Rope

The worst rope for hammocks is polypropylene. This material is not suited to hammock suspension because it’s affected by UV rays, does not stretch well, and generally has less weight and bulk to it. When your rope has to support the weight of a full-grown adult, it’s important to pick a strong option.

Crafting: Manila/Cotton Rope

In art there is no right or wrong; beauty is in the eye of the beholder, as they say. However, with the widely popular rustic farmhouse look, there are certain ropes that better lend themselves to decor.

Use: Manila or Cotton Rope

For crafting the most popular ropes are manila, twisted cotton, or polyester ropes. Manila and cotton are both organic, made from natural fibers. Polyester has many colors available for whatever type of decor you’re looking for. Cotton is nice soft option, and can even be bleached white. When choosing a construction, go with a nice twisted rope. This look tends to fit with decorative purposes better than the braid style.

Avoid: Polypropylene Rope

The worst rope for crafting is probably polypropylene. While this is a great all-purpose rope, it doesn’t fit most people’s home aesthetics, unless you love bright yellow. Unless you need all the functionality that polypropylene has to offer, it’s best to just choose whichever rope you think looks the best.

Gardening (Tie-ups): Sisal Rope

Many plants, like vine tomatoes or beans, require cages and trellises to grow upward. These contraptions have many benefits for your plants, but often they do require that you tie-up the plants to the tools.

Use: Sisal Rope

For gardening tie-ups, we recommend sisal. This is a natural fiber rope, made from the agave species native to Mexico. It is sometimes referred to as sisal hemp and has been used for many centuries. This is an organic material that you can introduce into your garden. As your garden tie-ups don’t need to last forever, sisal is a good option - it will “give” with the plant for a season or two, and then slowly decompose in the soil. It also hold a knot well, making it ideal for garden tie-up!

Avoid: Polyester Rope

For garden tie-ups, the worst rope choice is polyester. As polyester is a synthetic fiber, you don’t want that in your garden, especially if you’re growing food. There’s no need to expose your plants to this heavy duty and manufactured material.

Rope Ladder: Manila Rope

Make it's a tree house, or perhaps you're building a rope ladder simply for the fun of it, but either way you'll want to use a natural fiber for the best outcome. 

Use: Manila Rope

Natural fiber, like Manila, is your best choice when lashing a rope together. The grip it provides when paired with wood is always superior to that of Nylon or Polyester, too. 

Avoid: Polypropylene Rope

Because it will deteriorate quickly in the sun and does not absorb water well. you'll want to avoid polypropylene for this application. In addition, it does not hold up well to abrasion. 

Fencing(Tie-ups): Manila Rope

Because it consists of 100% all natural hemp fibers, Manila makes a perfect choice for any decorative use of rope, including fencing. It's also low-cost and generally snap-resistant. 

Use: Manila Rope

Naturally strong and aesthetically appealing, Manila should be your go-to choice for any decorative purposes involving rope. 

Avoid: Polypropylene Rope

Although it has many extraordinary qualities making it the perfect rope for many applications, you'll want to avoid polypropylene for any kind of decorations at it will be more difficult to work with. 

Tree Swing: Polyester Rope

There are generally two primary approaches to installing a tree swing: using bolts or using rope. If you've decided on rope we recommend a rope sleeve or piece of rubber to reduce friction and protect the bark. 

Use: Polyester Rope

Most synthetic ropes will do the job, but we'd recommend Polyester for any kind of rope swing. It's naturally ability to hold up well under most elements paired with it's strength and low-stretch make it a great option. 

Avoid: Manila or Cotton Rope

Conversely, natural ropes like manila, cotton, and sisal are not as strong and will not hold up well over time. If you do decide on a natural rope, we highly recommend replacing it every 6-12 months. 


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