Polyester vs Nylon: Differences Between Polyester and Nylon

Every fabric is not the same. That is the first lesson for all beginner sewers to learn. It would be nice if they were all the same but then the world would be a boring place. Having fabric challenges help people become better sewers and let them use the fabrics in uniquely creative ways.

One major difference between these two fabrics is that polyester can be made in more ways than nylon can. That means that nylon is always synthetic while polyester can have some natural fibers included in its construction.

To learn all about the differences between polyester and nylon just continue to read our article. It has the information you need to know how to use these materials to their fullest potential. Take a few minutes and see the differences for yourself.

Our Quick Comparison Chart

If you do not have a lot of time to read the article at this moment, use our quick comparison chart to see the differences. Then read the rest of the article when you have more time.

Number Nylon Polyester
1. Made from Polyamide Made from Polyethylene Naphthalate
2. Nylon is first a liquid which is spun mechanically before being dried into individual fibers This material is spun into thread from chemical solutions
3. Wide range of industrial and commercial uses Limited industrial and commercial use
4. Used in the following clothing- lingerie, tights, raincoats, and swimwear. Carpets, drapes, and bedding. Used in more clothing than nylon and is also use din carpets, drapes and bedding
5. Has good stretch to it Little stretch in polyester materials
6. Has a more natural feel to the cloth Has an artificial feel to the material
7. Doesn’t breathe very well Has low breathing ability but greater than nylon
8. Not very UV resistant Has a strong resistance to UV rays
9. Stronger material by weight than polyester Weaker material by weight
10. Absorbs liquids well Resists liquids
11. Fades quickly and doe snot hold dye well Holds its color and does not fade that fast
12. Stain resistant including oil Stains easily
13. Is not recyclable Can be recycled very easily
14. Can be very expensive Is very inexpensive to buy

Difference Between Polyester And Nylon


Cost is one important difference as polyester is not that expensive when you buy it in the form of clothing or plain fabric. Nylon, on the other hand, can be fairly more costly than polyester and of course, the quality of the material will play a role in their expense.

Then nylon is more weather resistant than polyester even though it may fade faster than its competitor. Nylon does not absorb moisture very well and may wrinkle on you quite easily. Polyester is moisture resistant and doe snot wrinkle that much if at all.

If you are worried about how flammable both materials are, polyester melts and burns at the same time while nylon will first melt, then it will burn. If you take a close look at the two fabrics then you may see more similarities than differences since both materials are synthetic in nature.

Finally, nylon may be softer than polyester but that may depend as well.

Which is Stronger Nylon or Polyester

The trophy would have to go to nylon in this category. It is said that nylon is much stronger than polyester even though the latter resists tears and can be used for many different activewear outfits.

It is possible that the stretchy nature of nylon contributes to its strength making it hard to damage that fabric than polyester fibers. Both materials are abrasion-resistant but nylon may be more so.

Then polyester may have the advantage over nylon when it comes to moisture, wrinkles, and other signs of a stronger material. Pound for pound nylon would win this part of the competition as it is just made to handle a lot of wear and tear and rougher activities.

You will find nylon materials in a lot more places outside of the fashion world and that would be due to its ability to be made very strong. Polyester has more fashion uses than industrial ones

Nylon vs Polyester Warmth

Because nylon clings more to the body than polyester does, nylon is seen as the warmer material. The closer to the body the less breathable the fabric or so the principle goes. Nylon remains very close to your body no matter what you are doing.

That means that your body heat and sweat are trapped forming a heat barrier that doesn’t let any cool air in. But then most people only wear nylon blends when outside of their activewear apparel. Polyester may be softer and more comfortable when made into slacks, skirts, shirts, and so on.

The one thing you have to watch out for when wearing either fabric are your allergies. Many people are allergic to the different chemicals applied to both materials to keep them waterproof.

This is a cause of concern when wearing synthetic fibers no matter if they are made from nylon, polyester, or some other man-made fabric.

Which is More Waterproof Nylon or Polyester


The crown in this category would go to polyester,. It seems that it has a moisture regain level of 0.4% while nylon registers a whopping 4%. That makes polyester more hydrophobic than nylon.

But this may be a stiffer competition as both fabrics are often treated with waterproofing chemicals helping the fabrics reject water when it comes. Then, as with other fabrics, there is always someone who will disagree with that fact and say nylon is more waterproof.

Those that disagree may have picked up a nylon clothing item that had better and more even layers of waterproofing than the polyester clothing item they compared it with. Different manufacturers will apply different coatings at different thicknesses to save money and so on.

You will see more nylon tents than polyester ones but that doesn’t mean that nylon is more waterproof. It just means that it is a stronger material than polyester is in that situation.

Is Polyester or Nylon More Breathable?

Polyester would win this category as well. It does not hug your body like nylon can and the principle quoted earlier tells us that the closer to the body the less it has the ability to breathe.

Polyester does do some clinging to your body but not as tight as nylon does. If you want to lose weight then wear nylon as that will make you sweat more than if you wore polyester.

Of course, the type of weave both fabrics are made into will determine how much breathability each material has. In addition to that, if both fabrics are lightweight enough, then both will breathe quite well.

If nylon is breathable then polyester is more so. That is the best way to look at this aspect of the comparison. Nylon may be a good fabric to wear especially when you are doing sports or other physical recreation but polyester does trump it in different categories.

Is Polyester or Nylon Better For Rain?

Polyester is more hydrophobic than nylon and that term means it hates water and does not absorb it very well. Nylon will absorb about 3 to 5% more water than polyester. So it will depend on your preference here.

Most people pick polyester to be better for the rain because of its water-resistant material. However, both materials are given waterproof coatings which may balance the scales a bit.

That is the key to the debate on this issue. How much waterproofing was given to both fabrics? If you know the answer to that question then you will know which material is better in the rain.

Nylon tends to be stronger than its competitor but that does not mean it is a better fabric when the weather turns nasty and the rains come. Since nylon does not absorb a lot of water it won’t take long for the contents of your tent to get soaking wet.

Does Polyester or Nylon Dry Faster?


Nylon seems to be softer than nylon and a little bit stronger but those abilities do not help it in this comparison category. Polyester is made in a lightweight manner that it will dry quicker than nylon will.

This is good news when you are waiting for your polyester tent to dry so you can use it that night. Strangely enough, polyester is easier to dye than nylon. Both are synthetic materials and one would think that they would both be difficult to impossible to dye.

But when it comes to dyeing either fabric, you will want to work on polyester as it dries quicker than nylon will. Then if you are caught in the rain, you will want to be wearing polyester as it may be dry before you leave the office, your appointment, and be ready for the next downpour that may come.

Polyester vs Nylon For Sun Protection

Nylon is said to fade very quickly, especially if you used the wrong dye product on that material. This fabric does not seem to hold colors very well and it is not known for having good UV resistance.

On the other hand, polyester has top-notch UV resistance and holds its colors very well. Even though it is hard to dye, once done the fabric should not fade very fast. All fabrics do fade eventually but nylon will fade faster than most.

If you are going to be out in the sun a lot or if you like hang drying your clothes in the warmth of the sun’s rays, do not wear or hang nylon. The sun removes the color quite effectively.

When using a nylon tent, it would be a good idea to pitch it under a covering of trees or bushes so your tent retains its original color and brilliance a lot longer.

Polyester vs Nylon Heat Resistance

When doing laundry it is said that polyester holds up better against the heat than nylon will but both materials are made from synthetic components thus heat is not a friend to either material.

But if you look at the previous section you would see evidence for polyester being more heat resistant than nylon. It can take the heat without being damaged as nylon is damaged when left out in the sun.

Polyester also has a higher fire resistance than nylon catching fire at higher temperatures than nylon will. With that said, both materials are used in those industries where high heat is a concern.

By that, we mean that those industries use both nylon and polyester when they need heat-resisting material to protect people, other components, and so on. Then when you get to saltwater, both materials resist salt corrosion very well.

This is why we say that there are more similarities between these fabrics than there are differences.

Polyester vs Nylon Compression And Durability


This is another one of those issues that have people on both sides of the discussion arguing that their point of view is better than those who disagree with them. One said that nylon is not as good as polyester in this category but it can still perform tasks like polyester can.

In other words, nylon is a little weaker here. But there are more people saying that nylon is stronger than polyester and does quite well as, if not superior to, polyester. When placed in carpets nylon is said to outperform polyester and lasts longer.

Your experience may be different and that would be due to the quality of the material in the products you buy. Manufacturing has a lot to do with how a fabric performs even in this category and one form may outlast the other despite the stronger reputation nylon has.

Nylon vs Polyester Clothing

Each fabric has a unique clothing niche. Both are synthetic materials and can handle rough activities with ease. Nylon tends to be stronger, weather-resistant, and more durable than polyester but that doesn’t make it a great fabric when you have social events to attend.

Nylon’s strengths usually have it placed in outdoor clothing and gear while polyester’s strengths reserve that material for dress pants, skirts, shirts, dress, and so on. Which fabric you wear will depend a lot on the event or activity you are about to do.

Polyester resists water so it dries quicker making it better to wear when the rain starts. Then one last issue needs to be discussed here. To make nylon material manufacturers have to spend more money. That cost is then passed on to the consumer.

What that means is that you will pay less for polyester than you will for nylon clothing. For some that price difference is a deal-breaker.

Nylon vs Polyester Jacket

In this instance, you may not have to choose between the 2 fabrics. Nylon tends to be blended with a variety of fabrics including polyester. When you buy a polyester-nylon blend you may actually be getting the best of both worlds and a very decent jacket to wear outside.

Nylon tends to have an edge here as that material is usually reserved for outwear or sporting clothing. It is stronger than polyester although it does not resist water that well. Polyester usually has a better handle on things when it is used for inside and innerwear.

The cost of the nylon jacket may influence your decision but sometimes it is best to ignore the low cost of polyester and spend the extra for a tougher longer-lasting jacket.

But the choice is yours to make and up to your preferences. There are many people who wouldn’t wear polyester if it were the last fabric on earth.

So, What's Better Polyester or Nylon?


These are both man-made fabrics and they are actually more similar than they are different. The differences between them are usually slight making both fabrics about even. Cost is not an indication of superior or inferior fabrics.

Sometimes you get really lousy results from expensive materials and top quality results from cheap materials. It is all in the luck of the draw when you go buy your fabrics. We will call this category a tie as both fabrics similar, and have unique qualities that make them good at the jobs they were designed to do.

Some Final Words

If you are looking for rain protection then you may want to choose polyester materials over nylon. The same if you want a little breathing room in your clothing. Overall nylon seems to have some qualities that make it an excellent fabric especially when it is included in a blend.

The two fabrics are about equal and which one you select will be up to your experiences with each material.

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