The types of rope available are about as versatile as their uses

Rope - Rope

Important things to consider when choosing rope are the types of rope and cord available, the different ways rope can be constructed, and what characteristics are important to you.

Tip: Keep ropes strong and help ensure safety by not using rope that is worn or frayed in any way, storing them in a dry place away from excess heat, keeping them clean and avoid kinking.

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.  

Type Material Description Points to consider


Clothesline Cord

May be braided with a cotton or polyester filler or may be made of wire encased by a vinyl sheath.

  • Possesses great strength to handle the weight of wet fabrics
  • Must be anchored to support



A soft and pliable natural fiber.

  • Ideal for use in pull cords on blinds and sashes



Lightweight cord that consists of one-twist plies and may be made from different materials including jute, sisal and polypropylene.

  • 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".

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Ideal for marine applications
  • Strong
  • Somewhat difficult to tie
  • Use a flame to melt ends when cutting to prevent unraveling
  • Ages well



A synthetic fiber that provides less elasticity than nylon but is otherwise similar.

  • Ages well
  • Provides abrasion resistance
  • Resistant to rot and mildew
  • Resistant to ultraviolet light



A synthetic fiber similar to polypropylene but somewhat heavier.

  • Not as strong as polypropylene
  • Provides abrasion resistance


Sisal Rope

A natural fiber that holds knots well.

  • 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.