Buying Guide

Types of Rope

Rope and Cord

Rope. Usually thicker than 1/8” in diameter and is used for a variety of tasks ranging from light tying to heavy-duty towing. 

Cord. Usually has a diameter smaller than 1/8” and is often used for lighter tasks.  

Types of Rope and Cord
Feature/Benefits Style/Customization Other Considerations
Clotheslines May be braided with a cotton or polyester filler or may be made of wire encased by a vinyl sheath. CORD Possesses great strength to handle the weight of wet fabrics Must be anchored to support
T.W. Evans Cordage - Rope A soft and pliable natural fiber. CORD Ideal for use in pull cords on blinds and sashes
Twine Lightweight cord that consists of one-twist plies and may be made from different materials including jute, sisal and polypropylene. CORD Natural fibers have a woolly surface that makes them easy to tie Polypropylene provides greater strength Ideal for lightweight applications
Manila - Rope A heavy natural fiber made from hemp that’s available in diameters ranging from 1/4" to 3/4". ROPE Ties easily and remains secure Resists damage from sunlight and won’t melt Strong Store somewhere dry to avoid rope becoming damp Ages well
Nylon - Rope A synthetic fiber that’s very elastic and may be braided or twisted. ROPE Strong and flexible Use a flame to melt ends when cutting to prevent unraveling Provides abrasion resistance Doesn't rot Resistant to many chemicals Ages well Absorbs shock
Polypropylene - Rope A lightweight, waterproof synthetic fiber that can float in water. ROPE Ideal for marine applications Strong Somewhat difficult to tie Use a flame to melt ends when cutting to prevent unraveling Ages well
Polyester - Rope A synthetic fiber that provides less elasticity than nylon but is otherwise similar. ROPE Ages well Provides abrasion resistance Resistant to rot and mildew Resistant to ultraviolet light
Chain A synthetic fiber similar to polypropylene but somewhat heavier. ROPE Not as strong as polypropylene Provides abrasion resistance
Sisal - Rope A natural fiber that holds knots well. ROPE Lower Strength Best for light-duty or temporary applications
Rope Characteristics

The strength of a rope determines how heavy a load it can handle. Safety factor is a measure of the load a rope should be rated to handle a given project. Breaking strength is the amount of weight a rope can bear without breaking. 

Always consult the manufacturer’s instructions for handling heavy loads. Do not attempt to use ropes in situations in which a life will depend on them without proper training.

  • Abrasion resistance is needed for ropes used with pulleys, winches or other devices that cause constant wear.
  • The load a rope is rated to handle assumes that the load is static and not moving.
  • Dynamic, or moving, loads greatly reduce the ability of a rope to hold the load.
  • Creep is the amount synthetic fibers slowly stretch while handling a continuous load.
  • Ropes never return to their original length once creep sets in.
Rope Construction

The most common ways rope can be constructed are:

  • Single Braided. Also known as solid braid. Features lock-stitch construction and is well suited for use with blocks and pulleys.
  • Double Braided. Features braided rope wrapped around a braided core to provide extra strength.
  • Hollow. Features an empty center and can be quickly and easily spliced. Ideal for water ski tows and anchor lines.
  • Twisted. Also known as laid rope. Can be easily spliced. Most commonly used type for general applications such as tow ropes and dock lines.
  • Diamond Braid. Features an inner core that provides additional strength or allows for filler to increase the diameter. Can be easily spliced.
  • Plaited. Features four sets of strands that are intertwined together around the core.

Color. Some ropes come in vivid fluorescent colors for use in situations where you need to know where it is at all times and these ropes are easier to locate in an emergency situation. 

Treatments. When using ropes near water look for ones that are treated to repel water and protect against mold and mildew. 

Polyester/Propylene Combination. Ropes with this construction are best suited for marine applications, fishing and other water-related tasks.

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