21 Different Types of Rope

Get familiar with the different types of rope that vary in style, construction, material, and color and stretch out your knowledge on each type of rope's use and benefits.
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Different types of rope.

The rope has a long history that started in the prehistoric times when it was used as an essential tool for hunting, pulling, fastening, attaching, lifting, carrying, and climbing. The prehistoric ropes were believed to be long pieces of twisted and braided vines.

The ancient Egyptians made ropes as early as 4,000 B.C. out of animal hair, water reeds, grass, and leather. Although it remains a mystery how they carved and transported the stones, there’s no doubt they used ropes in constructing their pyramids, now the world’s only remaining Seven Wonders of the World.

In 2800 B.C., the Chinese made ropes using hemp fibers. Rope-making eventually spread in the rest of Asia and reached India as well as Europe. In the Middle Ages, Europeans constructed long ropes that reached 300 yards or more using the rope walk method and were designed to be used for large ships.

It was only by the late 1700s that people started using machines in rope-making and in the 1950s that synthetic materials began to be used for making ropes.

Type

Natural

Natural rope

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Because the natural rope is made from environmentally friendly products and doesn’t produce chemical byproducts during manufacture, this type of rope is a much better choice if you are worried about the effect that your new rope can have on the environment. Of course, there are many different pros and cons that you will need to consider when opting for a rope made of hemp, sisal, cotton, or other natural fibers.

By choosing a natural rope that has a blend of a few different types of fibers, you can enjoy the pros and cons of each, which can result in a much stronger and durable rope. While natural rope tends to be strong, it is not nearly as strong as synthetic rope and can easily be damaged by water, mildew, mold, and UV rays. Unlike synthetic rope, however, the natural rope isn’t damaged by exposure to high heat and will only burn if exposed to actual flames.

Unfortunately, natural rope tends to shrink when it gets wet and can be very difficult to work with once it has been gotten wet and then dried again. This type of rope is ideal if you need to package items or want a rope that has a great grip as your natural rope is going to be much less prone to slipping once it has been knotted, which means that it is typically more secure. Because the natural rope is biodegradable and can decompose naturally, it is not as difficult to dispose of natural rope as it is synthetic rope.

Synthetic

Synthetic rope

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Synthetic ropes are generally made out of materials such as nylon, polyester, and polypropylene, although there are other materials that can be used to construct these ropes. They tend to last a lot longer than natural ropes do, which is one reason why they are so popular. They often have a lifespan that is 30% longer than natural ropes and are much stronger when they are wet and as they age. Synthetic ropes also are less likely to be damaged by mildew, water, and UV rays, which makes them great for use outside.

Additionally, synthetic ropes are much less likely to shrink when they get wet but exposure to high enough heat can cause the rope to melt, which can decrease its strength. They are much more shock-absorbent and more elastic, which makes synthetic ropes better for towing and lifting applications, but it can be tricky to keep knots tied in synthetic rope from slipping.

Unfortunately, one of the major downsides of synthetic rope is that its production tends to create dangerous byproducts and the final product is not renewable or reusable. This means that if you want a more environmentally sustainable option, then you are much better off opting for a natural rope if it will meet your needs.

Construction

Single-Braid

Single Braid Rope


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This type of rope is also commonly known as a “solid” braid and is a great option if you need a very durable rope that can withstand the pressure and heavy weight of being used with blocks and pulleys. These ropes do not have any core and are created by braiding instead of twisting the strands together to create the final rope. There are many different sizes that you can choose from when you opt for a single-braid rope, including 8- and 12-strand and even 8-plait ropes. Additionally, they have lock-stitch construction that ensures that the rope is durable and is less likely to fray.

Plaited

Plaited rope

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With a plaited braid, there are actually four different sets of strands that are woven and intertwined with each other to wrap around the core of the rope. This type of rope is often called the “square braid” and tends to be much coarser to the touch, It is not nearly as round as twisted rope is.

Because of this, it is much less likely to kink and tends to be incredibly flexible, which makes it very easy to knot and to handle without any problems. The issue with plaited rope is that all of the fibers are going to be exposed due to the way that they are wrapped around the core, which means that they are all exposed to possible damage. This can cause major problems but this fear is often offset by how durable this type of rope tends to be.

Twisted

Twisted rope

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This is a great rope if you want to be able to easily splice it. Also known as “laid” rope, the twisted rope is a very common type of rope that is often used for dock lines and tow lines. These ropes are formed by coiling together strands and making sure that they are in the same direction. The fibers within each of the three strands need to twist in opposite directions from each other so that the rope will hold together. This is generally a fairly inexpensive type of rope and tends to have a lot more stretch than braided rope does, which can be good in some applications. Unfortunately, it is less flexible and stiffer than braided rope and tends to kink if you are not careful when using the rope.

Double-Braid

Double Braid Nylon Rope

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If you want to choose a rope that is going to be very strong and durable, then you will benefit from choosing a double braid. This type of rope features a braided core and then braided rope that is wrapped around it. The end result is a very durable rope that has extra strength, thanks to the braided core and the stability that it provides. Of course, this means that the rope will do a great job at holding its shape and is very resistant to abrasion. It’s not going to easily kink the way that twisted rope tends to and will have a little stretch. It’s a good idea to opt for this type of rope if you need it for marine use but the double-braided rope is not a great choice if you are going to be using it in a manufacturing situation.

Hollow

Hollow Braid Polypropylene Rope


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This type of rope has an empty center, which means that you can quickly and easily splice it. Because of this, it is a great option for anchor lines or for ski tows. It is a lighter rope that tends to be easier to work with, especially if you opt for a synthetic option that is also resistant to water damage.

Diamond-Braid

Diamond Braid Nylon Rope

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This type of rope is made by carefully and securely braiding rope around an inner fiber core, which ensures that the rope is going to be incredibly strong and durable. Diamond-braid rope tends to be very tightly woven, which results in a durable rope that is firm, round, and able to withstand stress without being damaged or breaking.

Generally, this type of rope tends to be a little bit more expensive than other options available on the market due to its construction as well as how well it can stand up under stress. One benefit of this type of rope is that it can easily be spliced, which makes it significantly easier to work with than other types of rope.

Material

Manila

Manila rope

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Many times, you will hear this type of rope referred to as “hemp” rope, although it is produced from fibers from the Abaca plant. It is a great general rope for anyone who wants a strong and durable rope that can be used for outside purposes such as farm work, landscaping, exercise, and even décor or fishing nets. If you are worried about inclement weather or think that the rope could become wet, then you will want to opt for another type of rope as the manila rope can easily become damaged when it is damp.

This is an incredibly flexible rope that is surprisingly soft on the hands, which is great if you are worried about holding or using a rope and having the skin of your hands rubbed off. Unfortunately, the manila rope will shrink once it has gotten wet, which means that any knots that you tied will be almost impossible to remove. You can help decrease this problem by wetting and drying the manila rope before tying it and making sure that you store the rope in an area where it will be protected from bad weather so that it doesn’t mold or rot.

Pro Manila

ProManila Rope

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If you want the classic look and feel of manila rope without all of the drawbacks that come with a natural rope, then pro manila is a great synthetic alternative that you will want to consider. Not only will pro manila look great for long periods of time, even in wet or damp weather, but it will not shrink.

This means that you don’t have to worry about unsightly mold or mildew on the rope. Additionally, pro manila is generally resistant to a number of different chemicals and feels much smoother in the hand than manila rope does. You can enjoy the nautical and natural look of manila rope without having to worry about the cons of this natural option when you choose pro manila rope instead.

Poly Combo

Poly Combo Rope


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Poly combo rope is a unique type of rope that features polypropylene on the inner strands of the rope but polyester on the outer strands. This type of rope is very lightweight and feels silky and smooth in the hand. It has a number of different applications and is often used outside, thanks to its durability and ability to stand up to bad weather without being damaged.

This rope is a great option if you need a rope for landscaping, exercise, hanging up a swing, or creating rope rails around your property and do not want to worry either about the condition or the appearance of the rope when it has been exposed to the elements for a long period of time.

Polypropylene

Polypropylene Rope

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This is a great type of rope to use if you are going to be around water due to its ability to stand up to water damage, rot, and mildew. Because you can easily buy this type of rope in a number of different colors, it’s a great option if you need to use the rope for outside barriers or to designate safe areas in a pool or lake for swimming. This rope will float when it is put in the water and is very lightweight and inexpensive. Because this rope tends to stretch and is very susceptible to friction, you do need to be careful when using it.

One of the best features of polypropylene rope is that it is dielectric, which means that it will not conduct electricity. This is important for workers such as tree workers or electricians who are going to be working around electric wires as using a polypropylene rope will ensure that they do not accidentally shock themselves.

Polyester

Polyester Rope

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This is often considered the best “all-purpose” rope that you can buy on the market and is a very popular choice if you need a tough rope that is good for a lot of uses. This type of rope is not only great for rigging but also general purposes. It can be used outside and will withstand both water and sun damage without rotting, molding, or fading.

Because of its durability, it is often used in marine applications, although you do need to be aware that it will tend to become discolored when used in water for extended periods of time. Many people often mistake this type of rope with nylon rope, although there are some differences, mainly its resistance to chemicals. Additionally, polyester rope tends to be torque and stretch free while still maintaining its strength in almost any situation, which makes it ideal in situations where you need the rope to be able to maintain its length without the problem of it becoming too long or compromising its integrity.

Nylon

Nylon rope

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Nylon rope is not only incredibly strong but it also tends to stretch a lot when it is in use. It is stronger than both polypropylene and manila rope and is a great choice if you need to be able to lift a heavyweight or pull heavy loads without problems. Even though this rope is very strong, it also keeps a smooth surface and resists abrasion, which makes it perfect for use with a winch or a pulley.

Not only is this rope durable but it is also resistant to UV rays, which helps the rope last for a long time when used outside in the sun. Unfortunately, nylon rope will absorb water and will actually be weakened by water, which can result in the rope snapping. Knowing this, it is important that you do not use this rope in or around water or when you are expecting inclement weather.

Aramid

Aramid Rope

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The most popular type of Aramid rope is Kevlar rope, although you can buy others such as Vectran and Technora. Kevlar rope is the most durable type of rope that you can buy, which makes it a great choice for many applications. When compared pound for pound with steel, Kevlar rope is significantly stronger and doesn’t stretch or ruse.

When you want a rope that is completely stable and will not move once it has been tied, then Kevlar rope is a great choice. While Kevlar rope isn’t completely immune to damage, it is freeze-, flame-, water-, chemical-, cut-, stretch-, and UV-resistant. This means that it is great in extreme situations and can be used indoors and out without a lot of fear about whether or not it will be damaged or will last.

Jute

Jute Rope

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This is another type of natural fiber rope that may seem similar to hemp but does have some differences. Jute rope is incredibly light and while it starts out a little firm and stiff, it does become more relaxed and much softer. Decorative knots look great when made out of jute, thanks to the natural sheen of the material. Additionally, jute will stay in place due to the grip on the exterior of the rope but does tend to be a little bit more slippery than ropes that are made of hemp. To ensure that your jute ropes do not shrink, you will need to make sure that you dry them stretched out and under tension or else they will shrink drastically.

UHMWPE

UHMWPE Rope


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Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene rope tends to be incredibly strong and can withstand water, which means that not only will it not be damaged by exposure to water but it will actually resist water altogether, which makes it a great option for outdoor use, especially on a yacht or when fishing. Spectra and Dyneema are two popular types of UHMWPE rope. They are resistant to abrasion, UV damage, and chemicals. Because this type of rope is so lightweight, it will easily float.

There are a few problems with using this type of rope; one is that it tends to be very slippery and difficult to knot. Once the knots are tied, they do tend to slip out of place. Additionally, this rope has a very low melting point, which means that it can be easily damaged by extreme heat, and is very expensive. Unless the ropes have been coated, they will tend to distort and to creep when they are under heavy loads, which means that you need to be very careful when choosing the right UHMWPE rope for your needs.

Cotton

Natural Cotton Twisted Rope

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Cotton rope is very popular for use in backyard toys, pet toys, and children’s toys. It’s also commonly used for crafts and camping but has a few pros and cons that you need to consider before using it in any other application. Cotton is not nearly as durable as synthetic ropes tend to be and is very easily affected by humidity and water. This means that it will mildew and become damaged; however, cotton is not nearly as problematic in warm environments as the cotton will not stretch or slip.

One reason to choose cotton ropes for outside toys is that it is disposable, which means that it will eventually break down and decompose over time. The fibers in cotton rope tend to be softer and ventilated, which means that they are much softer on the skin. Additionally, the light weight of cotton means that you can easily bring it with you. If you do use cotton in wet or damp environments, be prepared for knots that tighten and are impossible to release and for mold and mildew.

Color

Natural

Natural Strong Jute Rope

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Natural ropes that are brown or tan look great when they are used for decorative purposes but are difficult to see when they are used outside, which is why they are more often used inside the home. While these ropes are very attractive, the fact that they are so difficult to see when used in a natural location is reason enough for many people to choose a brighter rope if they need to be able to easily see it.

White

White Rope

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The bright white rope does a great job at standing out and being easy to see but you do need to be careful because it can easily become stained and darken when used outside for long periods of time. If you need to use a rope that is easy to see in a natural setting, then white is a great choice. It’s also a good choice for use on a boat because it looks clean and will tend to blend in with the white sails so that they look clean and bright.

Color

Ravenox Colored Twisted Cotton Rope

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Bright rope can make the difference in safety when you need to ensure that you can easily see the rope that you are looking for, which is why it is often used in water sports and other outdoor activities. Colored rope can come in a variety of different colors and may even have more than one color in the rope itself.









One Response

  1. K SARANADEVENDIRAN, ALTs., January 30, 2019

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