Poly & Nylon Webbing Differences

Written by g.d. palmer
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Poly & Nylon Webbing Differences
Poly and nylon webbing look similar but behave differently. (Schnalle image by Ewe Degiampietro from Fotolia.com)

Webbing is a type of strong fabric, woven either as a tube or flat strip. It can be used for home, craft and commercial or industrial uses. Man-made materials have a higher resistance to environmental factors than natural fibres. Nylon and polyester, or poly, are two common modern webbing materials, each with its own benefits and downsides.


Nylon webbing is strong and brightly coloured but can lose its colour after long or repeated exposure to the sun. Old nylon webbing may appear dull, pale or patchy in colour. The colour of poly webbing is lightfast, but some forms may bleed colour under wet conditions. This creates a staining risk for objects in contact with the webbing. Not all forms of polyester suffer from this problem--"colorfast" webbings will retain their colour even when submerged.


Both polyester and nylon webbings are stronger than natural fibre webbing, but they do differ. Poly webbing tends to have a slightly lower breaking point than nylon webbing of the same size and construction. Nylon webbing is at a disadvantage when wet, though. It stretches significantly when wet or damp, and is not considered appropriate for use in marine environments. Polyester does not suffer from significant stretch when wet.


Continuously damp environments encourage the growth of mould and mildew, which can weaken fabrics and encourage breakage. Polyester webbing has a poor resistance to mildew despite its low stretch when wet. Nylon resists mildew damage much more effectively, and is the strapping of choice when stretch is not a problem, and the strapping may be stored in a damp environment.


Acids can also damage webbing, especially when exposed to direct sunlight. Polyester has good performance when exposed to both strong and weak acids. Nylon webbing is vulnerable to acids, and should not be used in situations where contact is likely. Mild acids, such as vinegar, are unlikely to cause significant damage, but strong industrial acids may result in webbing failure.

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