What You Should Know About Rope Material And Proper Handling

Posted on: 12 May 2015

Rope is a common object used in construction, and most people think they know all there is to know about it. However, there is lot more to rope than meets the eye. The various materials rope is made from affect its use in a construction setting. In addition, rope of all kinds requires care to maintain safety and longevity. Below is more information about these important considerations:

Rope materials

There are a variety of materials from which rope is constructed, and making a decision about which type to use involves several factors including cost, load capacity, environment of use, and durability. Below are the most common rope materials in-use today as well as information about the advantages and disadvantages of each type:


Rope was first made from a variety of natural plant fibers including cotton, jut, sisal and hemp; rope has even been constructed from animal materials such as hair or leather. Fibrous rope finds its best use for tying objects together, such as lumber or other materials, due to its rough texture that helps prevent slipping. However, synthetic materials are generally superior to natural materials in all other aspects, and that makes synthetic materials a better choice for most building and construction applications.


Polypropylene is a popular material used in the manufacture of countless products, including bottles, food containers, toys, clothing and rope. Polypropylene rope is inexpensive, lightweight, and highly-resistant to chemicals of most kinds.

However, polypropylene is also readily-degraded by ultraviolet (UV) light, and it is susceptible to abrasion if it rubs against other object. If used in a construction application, polypropylene rope should only be for short-term applications where it will not rub or chafe against other objects. In addition, polypropylene should be considered a disposable product, especially if used outdoors, due to its lack-of-resistance to UV light.


Nylon is another widespread consumer material that is commonly fashioned into rope. Nylon possesses advantages that make it an excellent all-purpose rope material: high level of strength and resistance to abrasion and UV light. This means it can be used on a job site for a lengthy period of time and is also reusable if treated well.

The only real disadvantages of nylon rope are that it weakens when wet and has a partial vulnerability to some chemicals. If you use nylon rope for construction work, then keep in mind it should be used only in dry weather and in chemical-free environments. Saturation with liquids can increase the unpredictability of the rope's performance and makes its use unsafe.


Polyester is an all-around excellent performer when used in rope. It is strong, durable and does not stretch. These factors make polyester a good choice when tying-off objects and it can be left outside exposed to the elements without degrading.

Polyester rope is more expensive than nylon or polypropylene, and it is also heavier. Its expense can make polyester rope prohibitive for widespread use in some environments, and its weight may be fatiguing to workers and others who need to lift or hoist it.

How to care for rope

Despite that rope is often found lying on the ground, dirty, twisted and knotted, it does require a minimal amount of care to maintain strength and durability. It is dangerous to mistreat rope and then use it for a critical process that could harm workers if the rope breaks. Below are a few guidelines to keep your rope in top-notch condition:

1. Keep rope dry – water and other liquids can destroy a rope's integrity over time. For example, natural fiber ropes will rot if kept wet. In addition, wet rope is slippery and can be unsafe to use. Store rope in a sheltered, dry location.

2. Neatly coil rope when not in use – leaving rope on the ground exposes it to construction equipment and other potentially-destructive factors. Always coil rope by winding it clockwise in a slow, careful manner. Hang it on a hook or lay it neatly on an elevated flat surface out of direct sunlight.

3. Replace rope when in doubt – you should always know the history of rope used for load-bearing work. Rope that has experienced a sudden shock or is advanced in age may be unsafe to use. That's why it's best to discard old rope whenever you are unsure of its past use.

4. Bind the ends – rope ends should always be bound by melting or by whipping with tape or string. This will prevent unraveling and keep the fibers properly braided for strength's sake.

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