General use or all-purpose rope is economical and available in variety of thicknesses or diameters. Common all-purpose rope diameters include 1/8”, 3/16”, 1/4”, 3/8” and 1/2”. Don’t assume a rope is stronger just because it has larger diameter. The strength of a rope is determined by the material it’s made from and how it’s constructed.
Rope is commonly constructed by twisting or braiding yarn. The yarn may be made of natural or man-made fiber. Most natural fiber rope for sale is twisted rope. Man-made fiber can be either twisted or braided into rope.
Twisting is the easiest and least expensive way to make rope. However, it lacks the strength, durability and reliability of braided rope. Diamond braid rope is constructed by weaving the yarn fibers over and under each other.
Diamond braid rope can be constructed by braiding around a fiber core for added strength, without a core (called “hollow core” or “hollow braid”), or solid braid. Solid diamond braid rope is tightly woven and the result is a very firm, round rope. Diamond braid rope with a diamond braid core is called “double braid” rope. Double braid rope is the strongest and most expensive all-purpose rope.
Rope constructed from man-made fibers like nylon, polypropylene and polyester are stronger and more durable than rope made with natural fibers such as jute or manila. Rope is also made with exotic fibers such as Kevlar. These specialty ropes are expensive and made for specific purposes. They may not be suitable as an all-purpose rope.
Polypropylene rope - pros: Polypropylene rope is an economical all-purpose rope with a wide range of functionality. It’s flexible, lightweight (it floats), has minimal stretch and great loading resistance. It’s also abrasion and chemical resistant. A major advantage is that in a wet environment it absorbs very little water and it won’t shrink.
Polypropylene rope – cons: Polypropylene rope is not as strong as nylon rope. Polypropylene rope has a low melting point and should not be used where there’s a lot of friction. Fiction may melt the fibers and cause the rope to fail. In addition, sunlight may cause it to deteriorate.
Nylon rope – pros: Nylon rope is the strongest all-purpose rope. It’s flexible, has excellent working qualities and shock absorbency. It has good abrasion resistance as well as being resistant to damage by sunlight, mildew, oil and most chemicals.
Nylon rope – cons: The downside of shock absorbency is that nylon rope can stretch. If you use it to secure a heavy load, check the load periodically and tighten the rope as needed. Nylon rope also absorbs water, which may cause it to shrink. It may also lose a minor amount of strength when wet.
Rope will eventually wear out. Look for frayed spots, broken or melted fibers and faded areas - damaged by sunlight, mildew or chemicals. Don’t put yourself, others or something valuable at risk by using a damaged rope. Replace a heavily worn or damaged rope with a high quality USA made diamond braid nylon or polypropylene rope.