There is perhaps nothing in a common toolbox more versatile than adhesive tape, and the fact that there are numerous types of tape makes this small and lightweight tool even handier and more versatile. You can use adhesive tape to bind and to tie two separate objects together, to seal up cardboard packages, to create labels and markings, and even to close an open wound.
It would be fun and useful to get familiar with all types of adhesive tape that you can find out there. By knowing which tape is the best for which purpose, you can benefit from its versatility and choose the right tape for a particular purpose. And because an adhesive tape is generally a cheap tool, understanding all types of adhesive tape allows you to collect them either for fun or for easy access to the most useful kinds of tape.
Having all of the useful tapes in your cache allows you to accomplish various tasks efficiently and conveniently. Tapes can also be used for decorative purposes (some are even used solely as decorations), so having a large variety of tapes will make your life not only easier but also more interesting. If you are curious about what kinds of tape to collect, here are 13 types of adhesive tape that you should keep in your toolbox.
Packing tape is one of the most commonly seen tapes due to its ubiquity and widespread use. Packing tape, as the name says, is used to seal up a cardboard package and to close any loose ends, including the top and bottom flaps of the cardboard box and the seams along the package’s outer edges that are still left when the box is closed. This tape is recognizable with its distinctive tan or transparent color.
Packing tape is made from a thin polypropylene or polyester sheet with pressure-activated adhesive. Due to the thin material and the absence of any reinforcing filaments, packing tape can maintain its tensile strength quite well but is generally easy to cut. A tiny nip on its edge can easily tear it across. This is why you can easily cut it with your nail; though putting it in a dispenser or applicator with a built-in cutter offers better convenience.
Duct tape is another commonly seen and used adhesive tape due to its resilient waterproof material. This silver tape is also very often seen in movies due to its nefarious use to gag hostages. Despite its seemingly notorious look, duct tape is one of the most helpful types of tape that you can use in various scenarios.
The name of this tape clearly tells about its primary function: to seal leaks in an HVAC installation, thanks to its waterproof quality. Being flexible, resilient, and waterproof, duct tape can also be used in various tasks that require you to deal with moisture, such as sealing plumbing leaks, covering holes in your boat, mending cracked windshield, and giving protection against water to non-waterproof objects. Duct tape can also be used in the same way you use other tapes.
Duct tape is resilient, flexible, and waterproof because it is made primarily from polyethylene with fabric mesh. Polyethylene is designed to be strong and durable, but it is also easy to be torn, which makes it more convenient to use than a polypropylene tape like packing tape, which requires cutting. Like packing tape, duct tape is usually 2 inches wide, though wider variants are also present.
Gaffer tape shares many similar characteristics with duct tape, especially because both tapes are designed to be torn and not cut and both tapes have a similar size. Gaffer tape can be used interchangeably with duct tape in many scenarios, just like it can also be used as an alternative for packing tape. The most distinctive difference between gaffer tape and duct tape is its look, which is matte black compared with the silvery look of duct tape.
This matte black color becomes a feature that makes a gaffer tape truly useful. In a film and theater industry, gaffer tapes are among the most frequently used types of tape because they don’t reflect light. Light reflection can be detrimental to a film production process, so a matte black tape is much preferred for all taping scenarios.
Another distinctive feature of gaffer tape is that it doesn’t leave adhesive residue when removed. Duct tape sticks strongly to a surface because of its excessive adhesive material. Gaffer tape is designed to offer reasonable adhesive effect and to be easily removed without leaving any adhesive traces, which may attract dust and dirt.
Strapping Tape – Types of Tape
A strapping tape has very much the same functions with all of the three kinds of tape mentioned above. What makes this tape special is its tensile strength. A strapping tape may be made from either polyester or polypropylene that is reinforced by fiberglass filaments. These filaments, which clearly visible if the backing is translucent, proven an extra strength that none of the three kinds of tape above has.
Because it uses fiberglass filaments, there is no way to cut or tear it with hands. When using this tape, you need a pair of scissors ready to cut the tape. The most convenient way to use this tape is by putting it in an applicator with a built-in cutter.
Transparent Tape – Types of Tape
Transparent tape is one of the cheapest and the most commonly used types of tape. It is transparent because it uses cellophane backing that is see-through, hence magic tape or invisible tape. Although it is transparent the first time it is applied, over time, it may appear duller and more yellowish. Some more exclusive and expensive variants have an anti-yellowing agent that makes the tape everlastingly clean and invisible.
Transparent tape is not designed for heavy-duty uses, unlike duct tape and gaffer tape. It is generally used for binding or combining sheets of paper, mending torn paper, and fastening the binding of a book to prevent it from becoming loose due to frequent opening and closing. Transparent tape is sufficiently sticky when applied on paper, but it may not be similarly sticky when used on plastic and other glossy materials.
Because it is used mostly with paper, which is available in various sizes, the transparent tape is also available in various sizes. It may be sold as tape only or enclosed in an applicator for easier and more convenient use. The cheapest variants usually use a rather weak backing that is easy to tear, either intentionally or accidentally.
Electrical Tape – Types of Tape
Electrical tape is an adhesive tape created for the sole purpose: insulating electrical wiring. Exposed wires are extremely dangerous. Without proper covering and insulation, they may cause short, serious damage due to fire, and fatal accident. An electrical tape prevents all of such bad things from occurring. Despite its tiny size and cheap price, it is one of the most essential types of tape for your safety.
You can practically insulate electrical wiring using all kinds of tape because they are made from insulating materials; however, if you use electrical tape, you can achieve better, more secure, and more reliable insulation. This high insulation quality is hard to achieve if you use other kinds of tape.
Electrical tape is made from vinyl, which makes it flexible, stretchy, and resilient. When winding the tape around an open wire, you want to use an elastic tape to make sure that the wire is tightly insulated. If you use other kinds of tape, you are forced to rely only on the tape’s adhesive because you cannot insulate the wire tightly. Relying on adhesive only is not a smart move because the slim wire can easily become loose.
Masking and Painters Tapes
These two tapes are different, but they are often confused with each other due to their nearly similar function. Both tapes are two types of tape that are usually used to create masking when painting a wall, car, and other surfaces. The main difference is that a masking paper is more commonly used by beginners whereas a painter’s tape is for professionals.
Masking tape is usually tan or beige in color, though blue variant, as well as that of other colors, is also available. Masking tape is made from paper that is easy to tear during the removal. It also uses a rather weak adhesive so that it neither damages the surface nor leaves adhesive residue when removed. Because it is made from paper, it can be written on for note taking purposes.
A painter’s tape is also made from paper with a weak adhesive for easy and non-invasive removal; however, the paper used for its material is coated to prevent accidental bleed-through. Unlike a masking tape that is one-type, a painter’s tape has many variants depending on its adhesive strength. Painters may use a tape with a relatively strong adhesive to deal with heavy-duty and outdoor painting jobs.
A double-sided tape consists of two layers of backing with the inner layer having adhesive on both of its faces. The outer backing is used as a removable divider to protect the outer adhesive before the tape is used. Double-Sided tape can be made from various materials, including paper, which is easy to tear, and plastic, which is resilient and flexible.
Double-Sided tape is one of the most preferred types of tape for sticking separate things together because it is perfectly concealed between the stuck things. If you use this tape to stick a piece of paper to a wall, the tape will not be visible because it is concealed behind the paper. One of the adhesives is attached to the wall whereas the other is attached to the back of the paper.
Carpet Tapes – Types of Tape
There are 3 kinds of tape that you can use with carpet: a double-sided carpet tape to attach the carpet to the floor, a foldable tape to straighten and strengthen the edges of the carpet, and another kind of tape for combining two pieces of carpet together. All of these three tapes, despite their different designs, have one thing in common: they use a very strong adhesive that is designed to stick to fabric and floor strongly.
All of the three carpet tapes are designed to stick permanently once they are used. They are very durable not only due to their strong adhesive. They also last permanently because they are made from vinyl and sometimes reinforced with rubber. Both materials are strong, resilient, and durable materials that are commonly used for flooring.
Mounting Tape – Type of Tape
Mounting tape is very much similar to a double-sided carpet tape, except that a mounting tape is used to mount objects on a wall instead of carpet on the floor. Mounting tape is generally made from foam with adhesives strong enough to keep common wall decorations, such as paintings and photographs, on their place.
To use a mounting tape, you need to cut a small portion of it and then peel it off so that it sticks to the wall. Afterward, you need to peel off the divider layer so that you can stick your painting or photograph to it.
There are two types of mounting tape available. One is used for permanent mounting and another tape is used for a temporary scenario. A permanent mounting tape uses an adhesive that is so strong that you may damage the tape or any object mounted using it if you try to remove it. Temporary mounting tape is easy to remove and is a good choice if you need to move your wall decorations regularly.
Fastener Tape – Type of Tape
You may recognize this tape with its trademark name: Velcro tape. A Velcro tape doesn’t use glue as its adhesive. It consists of two strips that can be combined and separated quite easily. One of the strips contains a dense layer of nylon hooks whereas the other strip has loops to which the hooks are hooked. Because it uses dry hooks and loops instead of wet glue, its adhesive effect isn’t easy to wane no matter how frequently you combine and separate the two strips.
To use a fastener tape, you need to fix each strip to the two separate objects that you try to stick to each other. The fixing mechanism may be done by using a strong and durable double-sided tape or by sewing or gluing each strip to the respective object.
Bondage Tape – Type of Tapes
One very common problem when you use an adhesive tape is that when you accidentally touch the sticky side, everything may get messy. The tape may become jumbled when you try to remove your hand from the tape. Bondage tape is used to solve that problem. None of the two sides of this tape uses adhesive, so when you touch either side, your hand will not be stuck to it.
What is special about a bondage tape is that it will only stick to itself. When you wind it around an object, it will not stick to the object. It will activate its adhesive effect only if you allow the tape’s opposite ends to meet. Bondage tape is a good implement to tie something without making a knot. Just wind it around an object and it will stick to itself.
Labeling Tape – Type of Tape
There are various kinds of tape that are commonly used for labeling purposes. A road-marking tape is a strong and durable tape that can be fixed to any high-traffic surfaces to provide passersby with information or cautions. There are also custom-printed tapes that you can order online if you need to label your products or your personal properties. There is also a multipurpose labeling tape that attaches to any dry surface and has plain backing that can be conveniently written on.
More Types of Tape
The 13 types of tape that you read above will surely make your life easier; however, it is important to know that those 13 tapes are not the only tapes on earth. In fact, they make up only a small fraction of all tapes that you can collect and use. Nonetheless, if you are looking for the most commonly used tapes, collecting the tapes above is enough to allow you to stay out of trouble.
There are many other kinds of tape out there, including decorative tapes with their colorful variants and some tapes that are used for therapeutic purposes. A bandage, a wound closure tape, and an elastic therapeutic or kinesiology tape are among the latter. In fact, any tapes that you read above can be useful during emergencies, such as when you suffer from bone fracture and you need a temporary solution before you receive proper medical care.
If you want to make your life easier, be sure to collect all of the tapes above and take the most useful types of tape with you when you are going somewhere. There are many possible happenings in which those tapes may come into use and you will never know when you will need them.