Home Learning Center Articles Different Types of Tape and How to Use Them
Many of us use common-office variety transparent tape for mending torn paper and wrapping gifts, and never give the sticky stuff much thought beyond that. But did you know that there are a whole slew of specialty tapes out there? Engineered using a variety of innovative materials and adhesives, these tapes do everything from color-coding cables to insulating splices and automotive parts. Below, you'll find a rundown of 10 of our favorite tapes, ranging from tried-and-true standards to a few new-generation types that you might not be so familiar with.
The old standby of electricians around the world, electrical tape is typically made of slightly stretchy PVC vinyl, and is backed with a pressure sensitive rubber-type adhesive. Electrical tape has good insulative properties, and is perfect for protecting wire splices and providing extra insulation on electrical wires. While you'll most often see electrical tape in black, it's also available in a variety of other colors (like red, green, yellow, green, and white) that can be used for color-coding.
When you need front-and-back sticking power but rolled-up tape loops just won't cut it, double-sided tape is the adhesive to reach for. While it's available in the common "arts-and-crafts" grade, there are also heavier-duty formulations that are strong enough to hang lightweight items on walls, or even adhere a cord cover to the floor. Use is very easy – just cut a length of tape, press the exposed adhesive onto the item you're working with, peel off the liner, and press the second side against the surface you want it to stick to.
This Great American Fix-All needs no introduction, but you'd still like to know the story behind it, right? The reason why we use duct tape for everything has a lot to do with its strength, which can be attributed to a composite make-up of woven cotton cloth that’s been backed with tough polyethylene, and then coated with a high-tack adhesive. Duct tape conforms to almost anything, and when applied, forms a waterproof seal, which makes it perfect for everything from HVAC installations to impromptu repairs around the house. Rumor has it that duct tape is even making a splash in clothing and accessory design…
Every once in a while, you may find a wire splice that could use some protective insulation, but what do you do when that cable is connected at both ends and can't be moved? That's where heat shrink tape comes in. Typically made of the same cross-linked polyolefin as heat shrink tubing, heat shrink tape comes on a roll and is wrapped around the project, as opposed to being slipped over it. Unlike most other tapes, heat shrink tape is backed with a dry adhesive that isn't activated until heat is applied. But once that adhesive cools, it forms a watertight bond that is able to repair cables and prevent pipe corrosion.
As far as adhesives for movie sets, stages, and studios go, gaffer's tape is the star of the show. Originally developed for the entertainment industry, this flexible matte-finish tape is ideal for holding down cables and marking positions, and won't create an annoying glare by reflecting stage or set lighting. Gaffer's tape has a very strong hold, but thanks to its residue-free adhesive, you can remove it without leaving any stickiness behind on your flooring or cables.
Being that a 5' roll of this stuff is strong enough to hold 100 lbs, referring to it as mere double-sided tape would be a gross understatement – it's more like super glue on a roll. Loctite's Power Grab on a Roll is a UV-resistant, waterproof adhesive that may look like double-sided tape, but it's designed to hang materials that are heavier than photos or card stock – think along the lines of door-knockers, address plaques, coat hooks and framed pictures. We even went so far as to stick a metal toolbox to a wall and then fill it with heavy metal tools – and guess what? The Power Grab didn't budge.
When a firewall is built, one of the steps is to fill in the seams between drywall panels with a firestopping joint compound. The only problem is that this "mud" is messy to mix and use, takes time to apply and dry, and always requires cleanup. Created for new firewall constructions, E-Z Fire Tape is a no-mess substitute for drywall mud. You simply run it over horizontal and vertical wall joints, firmly press it into place with the included application knife, and you're done. E-Z Fire Tape is Intertek rated for 1 and 2 hours of fire protection, and reduces installation time by up to 60%.
Designed for high-heat environments like car engine bays and industrial facilities, fiberglass tape is typically made up of a fiberglass mesh/aluminum foil composite, and backed with a strong, durable adhesive. Used as a wrap, it can keep heat-sensitive components like cables and rubber or plastic hoses from drying out, cracking, and generally being cooked beyond use. It's also great for insulating wired-in components that can't be disconnected before they're wrapped. And as an added bonus, the shiny silver surface gives a neat and professional finished appearance.
Unlike other types of tape that combine a structural ribbon material with an adhesive coating, silicone tape is made out of a single self-fusing compound that bonds to itself, no adhesives required. That said, silicone rubber tape isn't used for sticking one object to another; instead, it's intended to provide waterproof seals and electrical insulation in wrap-style applications on cables, hoses, and electrical components. During application, it's simply stretched and wrapped (with slight overlapping) to create a seal, and after a curing period (usually 24 hours), the silicone forms an unbreakable bond.
Except for the fact that adhesive runs only along its edges, Cable Path™ tape is very similar to gaffer's tape, and is (as you probably guessed) designed to route cables across rooms, warehouses and sets, all while keeping them safely adhered to the floor. When it comes to positioning cables, Cable Path™ is far preferable to the duct tape that many people reach for, because it doesn't glue itself to cords or leave sticky residue on the floor. Just arrange the tape so that its adhesive-free center is over the cables, press the edges to the floor, and you have a neat and trip-free situation. When the event is over, just pull up the Cable Path™ – cords will be freed immediately, and the floor won't be covered in gummy leftover adhesive.
©2013 CableOrganizer.com, LLC. This article may not be reproduced in part or in full without the written permission of CableOrganizer.com.
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