Polyamide vs Polyester: 12 Differences And What Is Better

Polyester is polyester. But polyamide is a name for a large family of different materials. Then even within those family groups, there are several sub-sections that further define polyamide fabrics. Even though they are both basically plastic, there are differences between the two groups of fabrics.

Besides having different chemical ingredients polyester is less absorbent than polyamide fabric. Also, polyester will dry faster than a polyamide material. Those two factors are important when deciding what to wear for your next athletic activity.

To learn more about the differences between polyester and polyamides just continue to read our article. it provides those differences so you know which fabric is best for your next sewing project.

Difference Between Polyamide and Polyester

There are technical and chemical differences between the two fabrics that will bore you. If you are not a chemist, those differences will not mean a lot to you so it is best to leave them out here.

If you are interested in such fine detail, the internet has that information waiting. Here is a chart to help you see the differences between the two materials when you do not have a lot of time.

Category Polyester Polyamide
Origin chemical laboratories chemical laboratories
Years of use since the early 20th century since the early 20th century
Absorbs moisture more hydrophobic than anything else absorbs more moisture than polyester
Drying quick to dry slower to dry but faster than cotton
Insulation properties good poor
Feel rough, but sometimes soft, lightweight comfortable, smooth, soft
Durability not as good as polyamides better than polyester
Cleaning easy to care for can be dry cleaned easy to care for can’t be dry cleaned
Melting point 500 degrees F 490 degrees F
Stretching ability very low very high
Sun resistant low high
Recyclable No Yes

Polyester vs Polyamide Chemistry


The basic reason polyester is called polyester is that its polymers are from the ester functional group. These polymers can be made into 3 basic categories- the aliphatic, semi-aromatic, and aromatic polyesters. To qualify as polyester the monomer needs both a carboxylic group and a hydroxyl group.

Polyamides have the same principle behind their label. They are made from a group of polymers from the amide groups. But to qualify as a polyamide those monomers and polymers need a carboxylic group at both ends.

The most famous polyamide is nylon. Many different clothing items are blended with that fiber but probably has fewer uses than polyester has. Both materials are just one form of many that make up the plastic world and both can have their shapes altered by heat.

Polyamide vs Polyester Smell

It is hard to say about the odor that comes with the fabric. So far no one has detected a foul odor from either material or they are not publicizing it. But when it comes to other odors that may land on both fabrics, there is a difference.

Polyester seems to attract and hold on to perspiration odor far easier than nylon or other polyamides. With nylon and other polyamides, the odor is generally washed away when you do the laundry., But for some reason and even after several washes you should detect a different odor coming from your polyester material.

The term to describe this is the oleophilic tendency and the more oleophilic the material the more odor retention or problem you will have. That means the more you sweat in polyester, the greater the foul odor and generally, that odor does not disappear.

Polyester vs Polyamide Waterproof


Polyester will wick away moisture better than nylon or polyamide fabrics. While that doesn’t make it waterproof it does mean it will dry faster and not be soaked as quickly as nylon or other polyamides.

The best you can say about these fabrics is that they are water-resistant not waterproof. Both of these issues are important as the amount of water they absorb affects their insulating powers. Polyester is better at insulating you from the wet and cold than polyamides are, even when wet.

For either fabric to be waterproof, they would need to be treated with waterproofing chemicals. that would be done at the time of manufacture and you should check to see if your nylon or polyester clothing has been treated or not.

If they aren’t, then you may want to buy the polyester material over the polyamide to be a little drier a little longer.

Polyamide vs Polyester Warmth

They say that the closer the fabric is to your body the warmer it will be. In some renditions, nylon and other polyamides are skin-tight which will make those versions of that fabric warmer than polyester.

The reason for that is that your body heat has no escape routes to take and is trapped next to your skin. Even when wet, polyester will provide you with a lot of insulation which makes it the warmer of the two fabrics. Pair polyester shell with a fleece lining and winter cold should not touch you.

Polyamide jackets are best worn on a warm to hot day as the fabric tends to be on the cooler side and does not insulate very well. if you are looking for durability then you will want a polyamide material in your winter clothing as it is more durable than polyester. But do you sacrifice insulation for longevity or longevity for staying warm?

Polyester vs Polyamide Price


There is extra processing involved to make polyamide fabric. That extra manufacturing means greater production costs which in turn boosts the price of nylon and other polyamides.

In other words, polyester is still cheap to produce and it will cost less than polyamide fabric when competing with each other in the stores. This is not to say you won’t get a discount or a lower price at different times when shopping for cheaper fabric.

Generally, you will save money if you choose to use the polyester option over the nylon or polyamide one. Also, polyamides have more strength, better softness, and more comfort than polyester.

Those attributes mean that the cost of the polyamide fabric will be higher than polyester. The presence of those attributes is due to the fact that polyamides were designed to mimic silk.

What's Better Polyamide or Polyester?

As you can see, cost-wise polyester would be better than polyamides. Also, polyester would beat that fabric when it comes to keeping you warm. In winter insulation and being warm are more important than cost.

Then polyester does not pill as much as polyamides and does not stretch or shrink out of shape. Polyamide fabric may not shrink but it can stretch somewhat. Polyamide fabric is the stronger of the two and should last you longer.

That fabric is seen as softer, more comfortable, and is oil resistant while polyester doesn't resist oil and while close to polyamides for the other two, it does not beat polyamide out in those categories.

For winter, polyester would be the better fabric while polyamide material would be better for warmer days. Just watch out for the sun as polyamide fabric is not UV resistant as well as polyester is.

Polyamide vs Polyester Leggings


There are people who prefer polyester leggings over nylon or polyamide ones. Given the fact that nylon and polyamides are stronger, more comfortable, stretch better than polyester it is hard to see their reasoning.

The biggest weakness for nylon would be that when stretched thin, it does lose that strength advantage and that may be why some people prefer polyester over nylon. Other weaknesses include that they fade when exposed to the sun, generate static electricity, not recyclable, and have a shiny appearance.

The biggest positive for polyester is that it will wick away your sweat and keep you dryer than nylon leggings. The other advantage nylon has over polyester is that the odor will wash away while it remains in polyester.

Then polyester will not fade in the sun which means you can exercise outdoors and still look good after weeks of doing that.

Polyamide vs Polyester Jacket

In this case, polyester is the clear winner. Not only does it insulate better when wet, but it also provides better weather protection. Plus, polyester breathes better than polyamides making sure you do not overheat even on a cold day.

About the only category polyamide will beat polyester in this comparison is in durability. It is the stronger fabric and the jacket made from that material will last longer.

If you are looking to stay warm then avoid wearing polyamide fabrics in cool to cold weather. They just do not have the insulating power of polyester especially when the polyester material is given a very warm lining.

Polyamide vs Polyester Swimwear


This may be a toss-up as both materials are great for when you want to go swimming. Both resist shrinking, both have low water-absorbing powers, and both can look very good with their many different colors and design options.

Where nylon is tops is that it will stretch better than p[olyester and that is a good characteristic when it comes to swimming. But polyester resists fading, resists chlorine better, and should retain its shape better.

Being able to stretch is good fin a fabric when you need to move but it also contributes to the loss of shape the bathing suit will experience eventually.

Polyamide vs Polyester Carpet

The decision to buy one or the other carpet style will boil down to a few factors. First, polyamide carpets are seen as the stronger and more durable fabric of the two styles. These carpets should last longer than polyester ones.

Then both carpet styles are soft due to upgrades in technology but polyamide carpets may edge out the polyester competitor here. In terms of the environment, polyester will have the edge even though manufacturers are working on making nylon more eco friendly.

But the biggest factor in this comparison will be the cost. Polyester is just cheaper even when made into a carpet than polyamide.

Polyamide vs Polyester Socks


If you want comfort, softness, and a good look then you should go for the polyamide pair of socks over the polyester ones. Even though polyester is being made softer it is still not as soft as polyamide fabrics.

But if you want dry feet, breathability, and insulation then you should go for the polyester socks. The winner of this comparison will be up to your preferences as well as the time of year and activity you are doing.

Nylon socks will outlast polyester and cotton so if you do not want to spend a lot of money then buy the socks that last a long time. Just do not wear them in the rain or when it is cold out.

Polyamide vs Polyester Rope

Nylon is the polyamide fabric that is turned into rope and it is primarily the material when used in ropes for climbing. it is not a good rope material to use when canyoneering as those ropes need as little stretch as possible.

That is where the polyester rope would be best. In terms of tensile strength, it is hard to say as nylon is generally stronger than polyester but its stretch may not make it as strong as it should be in some circumstances.

The reason polyester rope would win in most rope comparisons is that it doesn't lose its strength when wet and nylon does. 

Some Final Words

When it comes to synthetic fabrics the differences depend on how it is made and the chemicals used in their construction. In some instances, polyester will be the better fabric and in others, polyamide materials will be the best.

It will all depend on your purpose and other characteristics which one you will choose to use.

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