How to choose the right adhesive tape
Adhesive tapes provide a mess-free method of joining materials, either temporarily or permanently. However, they must be chosen carefully for their permanence or removability because it can be very difficult to clean up the adhesive stain that some tapes leave behind when removed — if, in fact, they can be removed!
The following chart will show you tapes that are permanent and those that are temporary. It will give you easy hints on when to use them.
Artworks, valuable printed materials or photos should be mounted using only acid-free adhesives, to avoid damage over time.
For other methods of joining materials see 'Glues and adhesives".
Removable cellotape/draughting tape.
Transparent, pressure-sensitive, cellulose-based
Low-tack strength to enable repositioning.
Non-yellowing tape that allows print to show through clearly (for reading or photocopying).Some designed specifically for joining pages for photocopying
so that shadow lines in paper edges don't appear on the copy.Some designed
specifically for book repairs — permanent, non-yellowing.
Tough, wide, waterproof, brown or clear plastic
tape. Some are designed for
hand-tearing, but most require scissors or a
dispenser to cut them.
Strong, fabric-based, waterproof, multi-purpose,
Usually black or silver in colour, though many other
colours, and transparent, available. Hand-tearable — tears square across web of
General-purpose, low-tack, easy-tear removable tape, usually paper-backed.General-purpose household masking tape is made of very weak
adhesive and low-grade paper. However, the tape is available in several strengths rated 1 to 100. Most painting operations will require a tape
in the 50 range.
Clear household tape with adhesive on both sides.
Protective paper cover allows tape to be positioned on one face of materials to be joined. Paper cover is then removed and materials joined.Ideal for joining paper — no messy glue or buckling as with water-based adhesive.Tape can be applied before edges are cut ensuring adhesive runs flush and strong along an edge.
Usually thicker than other tapes and usually
A tough, fabric- or plastic-backed adhesive tape used in the film, television and stage entertainment industries. Range of colours from fluorescent to matte, light- absorbing black.Difficult to break by pulling, but can be torn across by hand.
Bandage backed with adhesive.
A net-like fibreglass tape coated with adhesive. Very strong and self-adhesive.
Made of materials like vinyl, which don’t conduct
electricity. For safety’s sake it’s best to avoid using it for any electrical purposes unless you know what you’re doing!
White, light-weight self-attaching tape. No adhesive film, so must be held in place until it begins attaching to itself as it is wound round a pipe thread. Conforms readily to the shape of the thread.
Tears off easily by hand.
General stationery and paper-joining, wrapping small packages.
General household parcel packaging. Ideal for securing cartons or
protective wrapping for house or furniture removal. Will damage painted surfaces if removed.
Waterproof sealing. Apply to dry surface. Make a temporary patch in your holed kayak once you've made it to shore.
To paint straight lines and to mask off an area to be protected from paint.
A special grade of painter's masking tape is needed for very clean lines. Household masking tape will allow paint to bleed under the edges of the tape,
producing fuzzy lines.For fine craft purposes, cellulose-based masking tape
is available at specialist art supplies stores.
Mounting one flat surface on another — paper, metal, plastic. Ideal for making greeting cards, scrapbooking, silk flower making, parcel decorations etc.
For valued long-term projects such as photo- or art-mounting, buy
Used for hanging things, from permanent hooks or racks to light-weight impermanent paintings or posters, depending on the grade of adhesive strength.
Used to tape down temporary electric cables, attach a tablecloth to an outdoor table on a windy day, apply warning notes to the deck when painting a door sill, etc.
Used to tape a dressing onto a wound. Keep some in the first aid kit.
Construction applications, including reinforcing wall cracks, board cracks or plasterboard cracks and for repairing drywall cracks prior to
Comes in a range of colours. Self-adhesive, so great for labelling the cutlery you take with you to help out at a party.
Wind it around threads in plumbing pipes or taps to prevent leaks. Eight circles of the thread should be ample.
Cellotape comes in a range of tack strengths, some designed specifically for easy repositioning, others for permanence.Some go
yellow and disintegrate with age and are difficult to remove.
Fast grab, strong, permanent adhesion.
Strong, permanent, self-adhesive and very difficult to remove once
Impermanent. Rated by how many days it can be left on before leaving
residue on the surface, i.e. 1, 3, 7, 14, 30 and 60 days, with 7 and 14
days being the most commonly used.
Permanent. Will tear or distort thin pliable
materials if removed.Can be bought in a range of materials with a range of
Comes in a range of adhesive strengths.A
light-weight foam tape can be cleanly removed from a painted surface, but beware — heavy ones are designed to be permanent.
High adhesion. Leaves little or no residue when
removed but can remove
patches of some paints or mar polished
As impermanent as your skin. Removes easily for
Permanent as a bonding agent.
Might need methylated spirits to remove
Unwinds or can be cleaned out readily with a knife if it needs to be