Polyester and polyamide are both synthetic fabrics that are made from the same types of materials. They are both textiles that are essentially made from plastic. But even though the two fabrics are made from the same sources, they each behave differently. Let’s take a look at polyester vs polyamide and determine the differences between the two.
The main difference between polyester and polyamide is that polyester is the name of a specific fabric, while polyamide is the name of a particular fabric group. You’ll find both of these fabrics used to make sportswear and other types of clothing, but the two fabrics behave differently in certain aspects.
In this article, we’ll explore the key differences between polyester and polyamide. We’ll also look at the pros and cons of each fabric type and what each is used for. Then, we’ll look at examples of products that are made from each one.
Polyester vs Polyamide: Key Points
Both polyester and polyamide have some similarities, but there are also some major differences between the two that affect how they behave and what they are used for. It’s also important to remember that the term “polyamide” covers a few different types of fabrics. But, all polyamide fabric has the same basic properties.
The following chart will provide you with an easy way to see the key similarities and differences of polyamide all in one place.
|Breathability||Somewhat breathable||Less or not at all breathable|
|Colorfastness||Very colorfast||Less colorfast than polyester|
|Durability||Very durable||Very durable|
|Softness||Sometimes stiff, not as soft||Very soft and comfortable|
|Stretchiness||Little to no stretch||Has stretch and flexibility|
|Warmth||Very warm, use as base layer||Not insulating, use as outer layer|
|Ease of Care||Easy, avoid high heat||Easy, avoid high heat|
|Uses||Sportswear, t-shirts, bedding||Leggings, bathing suits, underwear, carpet|
What is Polyester?
Polyester is a synthetic fabric that was invented in 1941 by two British chemists. The fibers themselves are plastic that is made from petroleum, water, and other ingredients. This means that polyester fabric is generally more durable than other types of fabric such as cotton and linen made from natural fibers. Because the fabric has to be made, it can be created to have certain characteristics to be used for a variety of different textiles.
The polyester fibers are woven very closely together. This makes the fabric very thick and strong and helps to keep dirt and other types of stains out. Polyester’s ability to be fairly stain resistant is one of the reasons why it is such a popular fabric choice. The fabric also has other characteristics that make it ideal, which will be discussed later in the article.
What is Polyamide?
Just like polyester, polyamide is also synthetic. But instead of referring to a specific fabric, the term polyamide refers to a group of fabrics. The most widely-used polyamide fabric is nylon.
Polyamide is a few years older than polyester. It was first created before World War I, but it wasn’t produced commercially until 1938. It is also made from petroleum, water, and other chemicals. But the way the chemicals are combined in polyamide is different than they are with polyester. This is what gives polyamide slightly different properties than polyester.
For example, polyamide is durable just like polyester. But it is durable in a different way. The fibers are also woven together differently, which gives it a different texture than polyester has. Regardless of the differences that polyamide has, it still has a lot of uses. We will further explore these uses, as well as the differences between polyamide and polyester, to explain why they are used for slightly different types of clothing.
What’s the Difference Between Polyester and Polyamide?
BreathabilityPolyester is commonly used in sportswear, so it needs some level of breathability. However, we mentioned earlier that polyester fibers are very closely woven together, so, unfortunately, polyester isn’t as breathable as other fabrics. The small spaces between fibers do allow some air to circulate, though. In other words, polyester isn’t the most breathable fabric, but it isn’t the least breathable.
In general, polyamide as a group of fabrics is not very breathable. This is especially true for nylon. Even though a common use is for sportswear, you can expect fabrics made from polyamide to trap heat and possibly make you sweat. They are used for sportswear for other reasons besides breathability. For polyamide to be more breathable, it would have to be blended with another type of fabric.
Colorfastness refers to the ability of a fabric to hold onto dye and not fade or bleed in the wash. Before we discuss each fabric’s level of colorfastness, it’s important to remember that even though each fabric is made from the same materials, they are combined differently. This has a lot to do with how colorfast each fabric is.
Polyester is generally very colorfast because the combination of chemicals used to make it and the weave of the fibers holds onto dye very well. However, even though polyester is colorfast, you may find that darker colors can fade or bleed slightly more than lighter colors do.
Polyamide is less colorfast than polyester, especially if the polyamide fabric is nylon. In this case, the combination of chemicals and weave has the opposite effect. Instead of holding on to color, the color is sometimes absorbed unevenly across the fabric. Also, polyamide fabrics tend to fade in sunlight more easily than polyester does.
Polyester and polyamide are both very durable but in different ways. Polyester is resistant to shrinking and wrinkling. It also does a great job at resisting stains. These qualities make polyester a great choice for clothing that will receive a lot of wear and tear.
Polyamide shares many of the qualities of polyester as far as durability is concerned. But overall, it is slightly more durable. This is because it has a high resistance to abrasion. Polyamide is also oleophobic, meaning that it repels oils such as those found in sweat. That means that, unlike polyester, polyamide does not absorb oil and won’t hold on to odors.
Both polyester and polyamide fabrics do a good job of wicking away moisture, which is why they are both used in sportswear. Polyester is slightly better than polyamide at not absorbing water due to being hydrophobic. That means that although it isn’t exactly waterproof, it has a natural tendency to repel water.
Polyester also dries a little faster than polyamide since it is more breathable. Even though polyamide wicks away moisture, it will hold onto a little moisture for a little while since it isn’t as breathable.
Softness is one of the areas where polyester lacks. Even though polyester is a lightweight fabric, many people don’t like it because they think that the fabric feels stiff and uncomfortable. This has a lot to do because it is made from thick fabric that is woven closely together.
One of the better qualities of polyamide is that it is softer than polyester. This is because polyamide was created as a synthetic alternative to silk. Polyamide fibers are also more flexible than polyester fibers. This combination of softness and flexibility makes polyamide a very comfortable fabric.
Polyester has a low amount of stretch. This is again due to the thickness and tight weave of the fibers. Although polyester is used a lot in clothing, it is sometimes blended with stretchy fabrics like spandex for it to stretch more. This is especially true when used for tight clothing such as leggings and yoga pants.
Since the fibers are more flexible in polyamide, it is more stretchy than polyester. In the case of sportswear, nylon and other polyamides are better to use for leggings, yoga pants, and athletic shorts because these types of clothing need to be able to stretch more. It is also a better fabric choice for other types of tight-fitting clothing.
WarmthSince polyester is so thick and sturdy, it will do a good job of keeping you warm during the winter. It may seem like polyester wouldn’t do a good job keeping you warm since it is breathable. However, being breathable means that it won’t make you sweat while keeping you warm. When layering clothing, polyester is commonly used as a base layer because it is more insulating than other fabrics.
Polyamide isn’t as insulating as polyester. If you wear polyester as a base layer, it won’t help you stay warm. Even though polyamides like nylon are commonly used in jackets and outerwear, they are designed to be worn as the outermost layer since they repel water and moisture. However, if the fabric gets soaking wet, it can make you colder since it doesn’t insulate and can take longer to dry.
Ease of Care
Both of these fabrics are very easy to care for due to their durability and being wrinkle, shrink, and stain-resistant. You can even care for them the same way.
For both fabrics, you should wash them on the normal wash cycle using warm or cool water. When it is time to dry them, you should air dry or dry them in the dryer on medium or low heat.
Avoid using hot water and high heat when you wash and dry these fabrics, and do not iron at a high temperature. Since they are synthetic and made of plastic, they can burn and melt very easily. This will damage the fabric, usually in a way that can’t be repaired.
If the fabrics do stain, you should also avoid using chlorine bleach. It can damage the fabric, so you should use non-chlorine bleach instead. Other than that, there are no special care instructions that you need to follow.
Synthetic fabrics are usually cheap to produce because the fibers don’t have to be harvested and processed in the same way that natural fabrics like cotton do. Since they are cheap to produce, they are also cheap to buy. However, polyamide does cost a little more than polyester since it is softer and more flexible.
Polyester is used mostly for clothing, specifically t-shirts and sportswear. It is very versatile and can be used to make both cold and warm weather clothing. Polyester is used for some household fabrics, such as curtains, bed sheets, and pillowcases.
Polyamide is used for sportswear and outerwear, such as jackets. But since it is more stretchy, it is also used to make tights, swimwear, and underwear. As far as household textiles go, polyamide is used primarily to make carpets and rugs.
Pros and Cons of Polyester
Although polyester is one of the more commonly used fabric types, it does have pros and cons. We’ve already mentioned some of the pros, including its durability, ease of care, and versatility. But some of the other pros of polyester include:
- Moisture wicking abilities
- Resistance to stains, shrinking, and wrinkles
- Low cost
All of these pros add to the appeal and popularity of polyester. But where there are pros, there are usually cons as well.
Some of the cons of polyester include:
- Polyester tends to hold onto odors.
- It is somewhat flammable due to being made from petroleum.
- It can’t tolerate high heat.
- Polyester is synthetic, meaning that it isn’t as environmentally friendly as other fabrics.
- It is stiff at first and can take several washes to become more comfortable.
Some of these cons can lead people to choose other fabrics over polyester.
Pros and Cons of Polyamide
Because polyamides usually are listed under other names, such as nylon, we often don’t know that our clothes are made from that type of fabric. However, polyamide is more common than we think due to its pros. These include:
- Softness and comfort
- Moisture-wicking abilities
- High abrasion resistance
- Repelling oil
- Doesn’t hold on to odors
Polyamide does have cons as well. Since polyamide is made out of the same chemicals as polyester, many cons are similar to those of polyester. Some of the cons include:
- Polyamide is synthetic and not as environmentally friendly.
- It can’t tolerate high heat.
- It won’t keep you as warm as polyester.
- Polyamide is less colorfast than polyester.
- It is not breathable and can retain heat, making you sweat.
Many of these cons cause people to choose polyester over polyamide, especially for sportswear or other types of clothing that you want to keep you warm.
Popular Products Made of Polyester and Polyamide
Women’s Performance V-Neck TeeThis short sleeve t-shirt is made from 100% polyester fabric. It is designed for working out, playing sports, or spending the day outside in a hot sweat. The moisture-wicking abilities will help you stay dry from sweat or other moisture. It also has a UPF rating of 50+, meaning that it will protect you from the sun and won’t fade even if you wear it outside all day.
The shirt comes in 12 different colors, so there is one to suit any style. It can be purchased in sizes ranging from small to 3X. There is either a tear-away tag or no tag, meaning that the shirt will be comfortable and won’t cause itching. It is machine-washable as well, so it is easy to clean and take care of.
Women’s Workout Leggings with PocketThese high-waisted leggings are great for yoga, working out, or just running around town. They are made from 75% nylon (polyamide) and 25% spandex. Spandex helps the leggings be more breathable, while the blend of nylon and spandex means that they are super stretchy but will return to their original shape after being worn.
These leggings come in 16 colors and range in size from small to XX-large. They are not see-through, and they have a pocket that can hold your phone, keys, or other necessities. The leggings will also wick away sweat and moisture while being comfortable to wear.
I hope this article helped you to better understand the differences between polyester and polyamide. While the two fabrics are both synthetic and therefore very similar, they differ in terms of breathability, warmth, and softness, among other things. They each have certain types of clothing that they are more suited for. If you enjoyed this article, share it with others and leave a comment. Thanks for reading!