Tips for Choosing the Right Adhesive Tape for the Job

By Steve George

October 3, 2019Blog

double sided tape

If you have an ongoing DIY project at work or at home, and you don’t want to use bolts and nuts to secure or mount objects on a surface, the best way to do that is to get an adhesive tape. Adhesive tapes provide an easy, cost-effective and fast way to conjoin two objects together without damaging them or leaving a trace. However, in order for the tape to be effective, you’ll need to pick the right one for the application. Nowadays, there are many different types of adhesive tapes available, all of which serve a specific purpose. With that said, picking the right adhesive tape for the application is essential to getting satisfying results and avoiding buying an incompatible product for the task.

The first thing to do when purchasing adhesive tape is to figure out whether you need the tape for mounting or fastening. If you need to mount something to a wall or an elevated surface, you’ll need a mounting tape, also known as 3M tapes. 3M tapes usually have a thicker form factor that resists gravity and other forces, like the object’s weight which is going to pull it down over time. There are two basic types of 3M tapes: acrylic-based and foam-based adhesive tapes. The effectiveness of the tapes depends on the surface’s texture, which I’ll discuss in a minute.

adhesive tape

On the other hand, if you need to fasten something on a flat surface, you’ll be better off using double-sided tape. These tapes have a thin form factor that allows them to withstand foot traffic and shear stress. These tapes are specifically designed for stair treads, rugs, carpets, and other nylon and textile-based objects. In fact, there’s double-sided tape specifically designed for use on clothes and dresses, which features hypo-allergenic properties and is designed to prevent skin irritation upon contact.

Furthermore, you need to consider the material build of the object that’s going to be mounted and the surface area. If either of them is rough, textured, uneven or contoured, then you’ll need a foam-based tape. Foam-based adhesives can easily conform to the object’s texture and shape, making them ideal for contoured surfaces. Acrylic-based taps are ideal for smooth and even surfaces. This is due to the fact that acrylic-based tapes feature gel-like silicone adhesives that easily adhere to smooth and glossy surfaces like marble, glass, ceramics and glossy wood.

self adhesive 3m tape

Then, you’ll need to consider whether you want a tape that will allow you to easily detach the object you’re installing. If you’re installing a shower curtain, labels, school teaching materials or fixing metal tools, you’ll need a Magnetic or Hook and Loop tape. Magnetic tapes allow you to mount metallic objects like knives, tools, and clips, organize them and keep easy access to them whenever you need them. Hook and Loop tapes are heavy-duty tapes designed for shower curtains and other non-metallic, heavy and magnetic objects. They’re basically velcro tapes that secure the object and allow you to attach and detach it any time you want.

invisible tape

Some of the most classic tapes for patching, packaging and ducting are duct and invisible tape. Duct tape is extremely popular for all types of classic repairs that require heavy-duty bundling. You’ll notice that strong duct tapes are textured and contain striations that are threads which serve as a backbone to the tape, giving it more structural integrity and strength. On the other hand, if your goal is to patch notes and documents while keeping the patching invisible on the photocopier, you’ll need frosted tape which is subtle to the naked eye but completely invisible to photocopiers. These tapes are generally tough, and you might need to use a dispenser or scissors that are designed for them specifically. However, worth noting is that invisible and transparent tape isn’t the same thing. Transparent tape is for packaging, as it boasts high flexibility and high tensile strength. Further, transparent tape is UV resistant, making it ideal for packaging solutions.

Masking Tape

However, if your goal is to mask some parts, create sharp paint lines or tape lightweight paper notes, then you need masking tape. For painting with pigments which have contrasting colours, on the other hand, you’ll have much more success with a blue painter’s tape. If you want to manage cables, protect your equipment or create markings on the floor, you’ll want gaffers tape. This type of tape is a soft cloth tape that can easily be torn using your hands. It has a matte finish that can blend perfectly to gears and surfaces. And lastly, there are tapes made specifically for industrial use. If you need to insulate a cooling or heating pipe or prevent a cooler from leaking, you can use Aluminium tape. If you need to exert pressure on water pipes and valves to prevent leakage, use silicone self-fusing tape. And if you need to create an electrical circuit in a close and tight space, use copper tape.