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There is a wide range of tapes, with many different uses. Most are self adhesive and pressure activated, but there also exist water activated tape, heat activated tapes and tapes with no adhesive at all.


Insulating Tape

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  • PVC
  • Electrical insulation
  • Available in various colours
  • Often misused
  • Often falls off years later, don't rely on tape alone for basic insulation
  • Easily torn
  • Peels off most surfaces cleanly
  • Writable
  • PVC tapes also exist that aren't intended for electrical insulation. These are generally not self extinguishing
  • White tape isn't uv resistant

Building Tape

  • Fairly tough, easy rip general purpose tape
  • Peelable
  • For bundling materials
  • Masking (but several times the price of paper masking tape)

Masking Tape

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  • Peelable low tack flexible crepe paper tape
  • Available in various widths
  • Easily removed if not left on too long.
  • Masking tapes have a day rating, from 1-60 days. Leave it in place longer and it can stick very firmly
  • Low cost masking tape is best removed within a day or 2
  • White spirit can remove tape residue
  • Blue painter's tape is less prone to paint bleeding under the edges than tan masking tape, and should be used for car paints & similar.
  • Outdoor duty masking tape also available
  • Used to reduce chipping of laminate edges during sawing. Apply tape across the cut line.
  • Masking woes & solutions
  • Modern masking tape was invented in 1925 for use when 2 tone painting vehicles, previous masks could damage the paintwork.

Masking Roll

  • Wide paper or polythene with peelable adhesive strip along one edge of one side
  • Used similarly to masking tape, but giving much wider protection.
  • Different widths available

Carpet Mask

Cellophane Tape

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  • Eg Sellotape, Scotch tape, etc
  • Very low cost, light duty, limited life
  • All the adhesive tape defects in one tape type:
    • low strength.
    • adhesive fails in time
    • adhesive fails if wet
    • adhesive creeps & fails if heated
    • adhesive not peelable
    • old adhesive permanently marks the workpiece
    • tape discolours
    • tape goes brittle in time
    • tape vulnerable to UV
    • tape often shreds during use
  • Sometimes useful to hold things temporarily while you fix them permanently.
  • Sometimes used as a temporary fix if nothing else is to hand
  • Cellulose tape with clear adhesive was invented in 1930, and proved an unexpected hit in the depression, with people using it to repair a wide range of items.

Duct Tape

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  • Tough cloth reinforced tape for most jobs
  • sometimes called duck tape
  • Tearable by hand
  • Waterproof
  • Not recommended for ducting, duct conditions cause premature failure
  • The rubber adhesive can tear or mark what its applied to when removed
  • Gorilla tape is a stickier heavier duty version of duct tape
  • Tests show duct tape kills 21% of warts
  • Most popular tape for kidnap, abduction, armed robbery etc
  • Reminding employees of that can be counterproductive

Gaffer Tape

  • As duct tape, but with a cleanly peelable synthetic rubber adhesive.
  • avoids marking after removal
  • Several times the price
  • widely used on stage sets

Foil Tape

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  • self adhesive aluminium tape
  • For ductwork & HVAC
  • Seals gaps between foil faced insulation sheets to restore the vapour barrier

Window Foil

  • Self adhesive lead tape around 1/4" wide
  • Conductive, applied to window glass, detects breakage
  • Mostly superceded by PIR and ultrasonic glass break detectors.
  • Window foil has a mix of advantages and disadvantages compared to its now more popular alternatives.

Self Amalgamating Tape

  • Tape sticks permanently to itself.
  • Temporary repairs to pipes & hoses
  • Used as an insulation tape substitute, especially where the tape must not fall off in time
  • Waterproof
  • UV proof
  • Insulating (electrically)
  • Stretch it during application to ensure it bonds together

Self fusing tape

Silicone based version of self amalgamating tape with greater resistance to liquids

Friction Tape

2 types exist...

Electrical friction tape

  • Rubberised cloth insulating tape with very poor adhesion
  • Slightly tacky on both sides.
  • Obsolete

Grip enhancing friction tape

  • Modern friction tape has an effective adhesive on one side only
  • Used to enhance grip on handles, especially of sports equipment

Wall Repair Tape

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  • Crack repair tape
  • Ultrathin cloth with tapered edge
  • Put it over the crack & paint. Very quick, & hardly noticeable
  • The painted tape has a non-smooth surface, so it soils faster than the surrounding flat smooth wall
  • It's therefore a bit of a bodge

Clear Waterproof Tape

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  • Repairs to plastic cracks.
  • To repair plastics, align the plastic very accurately and apply tape to both sides of the crack. This prevents the break flexing and separating. The broken edges need to be aligned perfectly for this to work effectively. If done correctly with a tough tape, there will be no extra flexibility at the crack, and good usability is restored.
  • Can be used as glass crack repair where the lost strength is acceptable, eg for some greenhouse glazing

Magic Tape

  • Clear matt tape for torn paper repair
  • clearer & longer lived than cellophane, doesn't stain paper

Paper Tape

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  • Use to reinforce wet plaster on plasterboard joints
  • Tape over ceiling plasterboard joints before painting for a cut price no-filler job, eg for garages. Expect imperfections
  • Can be used with wallpaper paste

Gummed Paper Tape

  • Water activated, and sticks on drying
  • Not often used in DIY now
  • Formerly used as a peelable tape, the paper must be soaked to release the glue.

Corner Bead Tape

  • Flexible paper tape

Plasterboard Joint Tape

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  • An open mesh tape applied to joints before filling.
  • glass fibre or plastic
  • Reduces cracking
  • prevents cracked filler falling out

Hazard Tape

  • Black/yellow & red/white striped tapes used to draw attention to hazards.
  • Used to mark out machinery areas on factory floors
  • PVC

Barrier Tape

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  • Non-adhesive tape used to cordon off hazardous areas
  • Strung between fencing pins, traffic cones or fence posts
  • Available in orange, red & white, black & yellow


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Gas PTFE usage guidance from BS 6891
  • Slippery non-stick conformal tape used to seal plumbing joints
  • Used for gas, water, oil, etc
  • Used for high pressure gas as well
  • White is used for water but not approved for gas
  • PTFE on yellow reels is approved for gas work
  • Yellow reel PTFE is thicker than white
  • PTFE is a relatively inert material, making it suitable for use with a wide range of chemicals.

Marine Grade Tapes

Various different tapes come under this heading, but all are designed to be reliable in a harsh environment, and equivalent marine products have much longer life on land than products designed for land use.

They also come with much higher price tags, but where durability and reliability are important, marine grade adhesives are an excellent choice. Don't be surprised to see price tags starting at tens of pounds per roll, rising to over £100.

Parcel Tape

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  • Stronger, thicker and stickier than cellophane tape
  • For packaging
  • Parcel tape brands vary a lot in strength & adhesion
  • Use as a better quality replacement for sellotape
  • Repairs plastic items - see Repair plastics
  • Cleans animal hair off sofas, chairs, clothes, & items to be painted
  • Preprinted parcel tapes are available with phrases such as 'fragile' 'security seal' and so on.
  • Printed parcel tapes are available to order with any (legal) phrase or picture on
  • Dry wipe whiteboard pens may be used on parcel tape for an effective dry wipe shelf marking system.

Tack Roll

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  • Cleans clothes & upholstery of hairs & loose dirt
  • Around 4" wide
  • Used on a handle
  • More effective & quicker than parcel tape
  • More effective than silicone tack rollers at hair removal
  • Widely used in the clothing industry.

Double Sided Tape

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  • Available in several types...


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  • Foam layer takes up gaps between uneven surfaces
  • Light duty


  • Light duty
  • Thin, no gap filling property


  • Heavy duty, for [[[carpet]]


Some seriously heavy duty marine grade double sided tapes exist. The toughest contain 2 adhesives. A weak repositionable adhesive allows correct positioning, then when pressed hard the microbeads release adhesive tough enough to be used on the exterior of a supersonic aeroplane.

Video Tape

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  • Used to record security cameras
  • Correct video formats should be used to avoid legal issues if used as evidence
  • Digital evidence is now allowed in court cases

Anti-slip Tape

2 distinct types exist...

Rough Surface Anti-slip Tape

  • Coarse rough surface to prevent slip
  • Used on stairs & other fall hazard areas
  • This practice has been criticised for causing stair falls

Rubberised String

  • Foam rubber coated string mesh
  • Stick to underside of rugs etc to reduce slip risk

Lane Marking Tape

  • 2" Coloured PVC tapes
  • Available in various colours
  • Can be used for colour coding areas on business premises

Hook & Loop Tape

  • Aka velcro
  • Removable reusable fixing
  • Holds items to walls, dashboard etc
  • Sometimes used in clothing & footwear
  • Much heavier duty versions than velcro also exist

Banding Tape

  • High longitudinal strength tape
  • For banding, packaging & bundling.

Carpet Tape

  • Tough tacky cloth tape
  • Double sided
  • For carpet laying without underlay
  • Single sided carpet tape is used for carpet jointing. Its applied then ironed on
  • Removable (peelable) double sided carpet tapes are available for rugs etc.

Pipe Repair Tape

  • Tapes especially designed for temporary plumbing repairs, featuring near zero stretchability and high strength adhesion.
  • 2 part tape packs are available

Flashing Tape

  • Self adhesive roof flashing tape
  • aluminium
  • Life expectancy far below that of lead flashing

Flexible Weatherproof Tape

  • Weatherproof
  • Remains flexible

Filament Tape

  • Contains long glass fibres for very high longitudinal strength
  • Used for packaging large & heavy items

High Bond Tape

  • High adhesion long life tape

Melamine Edging Tape

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  • Edging for melamine laminated chipboard sheet
  • Available in white, brown and sometimes other colours
  • Available in different widths
  • Heat activated
  • Iron it on to bond it in place.
  • Trim carefully with a knife after ironing

Draught Excluder

  • Self adhesive foam tape draught excluders are a very low cost way to save money & energy
  • Draughtproofing tends to increase RH
  • Budget types deteriorate fairly quickly
  • Longer life foam tapes such as EPDM are higher priced

Glazing Tape

  • For fitting glass to plastic frames
  • Increases security of externally glazed plastic windows
  • Very resilient adhesive

Closure Plate Tape

  • Approved for gas work

Ridge vent Tape

  • Wide finely corrugated aluminium tape
  • Fits under ridge tiles providing ventilation

Breather Tape

  • Used to seal ends of multilayer polycarbonate roofing sheet
  • Ultrafine mesh tape
  • Allows water vapour dispersal
  • Keeps out insects
  • Keeps out most dirt

Warning Tape

  • Non-adhesive tapes with safety warnings printed on them
  • Used over underground services such as electrical wires & gas pipes.
  • Best fitted a short distance above the service to be protected, as tools are likely to go below the level of the tape before it is seen & read.

Fish Tape

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  • Flat spring steel tape for threading cable through inaccessible spaces
  • Aka draw wire
  • Use gloves in case the metal touches a live connection in the void

Measuring Tapes

  • Available in metal, cloth and fibreglass
  • Metal tapes are accurate but can fracture
  • Fibreglass is more durable, but less acurate due to very slight stretch
  • cloth tapes are the least accurate, and are primarily used for tailoring
  • Self retracting and open frame tapes available.

Dry Wipe tape

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  • Adhesive tape used like a whiteboard surface
  • For labelling shelves, containers etc
  • Parcel tape makes an inferior substitute

Vinyl Tape

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  • Soft flexible deformable tape
  • There must be some use for it

Turner's tape

Peelable double sided tape

  • Used to hold items while machining them
  • Can pull fibres out of the wood surface sometimes

Lead tape

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Thin self adhesive lead used for fake lead lights

Bondage Tape

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Sticks to itself, but doesn't stick at all to other things. Yes, it is for bondage.

Chrome Tape

  • Self adhesive
  • Chrome finish
  • Used to apply a shiny finish to things


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  • This is one type of tape you don't want.
  • Wash your hands at lunch time.

See Also