A Complete Guide to Different Types of Tapes

A Complete Guide to Different Types of Tapes

Each type of tape has unique features, benefits, and recommended applications. We've put together an overview of the most popular types of tapes with a description and common uses.

Application Tape/Transfer Tape - Transfer tape or application tape, also known as “pre-mask”, is a necessity for sign-making and digital graphics. Transfer tape is so named because it transfers cut vinyl and graphics from the release liner to the substrate. High quick tack and good shear strength make this the best choice for more demanding bonding/joining applications, especially for textured, rough surfaces. Used for core starting, and splicing of papers, films, metals, and other webs.

Barricade Tape - Brightly colored tape (often incorporating a two-tone pattern of alternating yellow-black or red-white stripes or the words “Caution” or “Danger” in prominent lettering) that is used to warn of an area or situation containing a possible hazard. Underground detectable tape is used for accurately locating and preventing damage to valuable underground utility installations.

Carton Sealing Tape (Acrylic Water-Based Adhesive) - Water-based adhesives service a huge variety of industries because of their ability to bind to a wide range of substrates. They also remain stable in high levels of humidity and across a wide temperature range and form extremely strong and durable bonds. Along with their flexibility and economic practicality, water-based adhesives offer excellent adhesive qualities and service a wide range of temperatures and are more resistant to moisture.

Carton Sealing Tape (Acrylic Solvent-Based Adhesive) - Solvent acrylic adhesives are formulated to offer extraordinary chemical resistance, making them well-suited for use in environments where such exposure is a possibility. In addition, many solvent adhesives can withstand a range of temperature extremes. As with chemical resistance, the ability of solvent acrylics to function at high and low temperatures enables their use across a wider range of locations and conditions than some competing technologies. Finally, when longevity and durability define success or failure, solvent acrylic adhesives are often the best option.

Carton Sealing Tape (Hot Melt Rubber-Based Adhesive) - Recommended for an initial quick-stick. Hot melt adhesives have a quick set speed and are applicable in a wide range of temperatures and industries. They rely on cooling to set vs evaporation. Excellent adhesion to challenging substrates, especially to low surface energy plastic substrates such as polyethylene and other polyolefins. Excellent resistance to humidity and water. These adhesives can also be applied to moist substrates and even to slightly contaminated substrates. Specific grades exhibit excellent adhesion even under extreme cold conditions (down to -18°C).

Carton Sealing Tape (Natural Rubber-Based Adhesive) - Recommended for recycled cartons and cold-temperature applications. In general, natural rubber properties offer many advantages for adhesive tape applications. The first of these is its outstanding peel adhesion or “grab” – not only on polar surfaces but also on substrates with low surface tension. Furthermore, adhesive tape with natural rubber adhesion can be removed easily and does not leave any trace. Finally, there is the high tack, i.e. stickiness, of the adhesive: the adhesive tape glues with minimal pressure and minimal contact time.  

Cloth Tape - Very good for bonding to rough surfaces and can be removed quickly and cleanly after use. The cloth carrier resists tearing yet is hand tearable. Cloth tape is suited for long-term interior and exterior applications. It is extremely resistant, waterproof, offers immense adhesive performance, and can be used to bundle or package items as well as for handicrafts. Tapes are available in various colors and can be written on.

Double Coated Tissue Tape - Exhibits a strong direct tack and continuous adhesive strength, as well as dynamic shear strength on most surfaces. No plasticizer migration on most surfaces and excellent corrugators’ splicing tape. Used in manufacturing for continuous web processes when a visual splice is needed. Good temperature, UV, and aging resistance.

Double-Sided Paper Tape - Good quick stick, great adhesive strength, and bonds to most surfaces. Used in the printing industry, textile manufacturing (twisting/spinning process), steel rule die-makers/die-cutters (make-ready), and carpet installation. For bonding, mounting, holding, joining, core start-ups, and splicing applications.

Duct Tape - Duct tape will conform well to irregular surfaces, and will not twist or curl during application. Excellent water and abrasion resistance. It is hand-tearable and tears evenly. Used as a quality waterproof packaging tape for export shipments. Used for splicing, vinyl repair, protecting, bundling, color coding, and ductwork sealing and seaming.

Electrical Tape - For wire and cable insulation, bundling, and primary splice insulation at no more than 600V. Most electrical tapes are non-flame retardant but are also available in flame retardant, cold resistant, and all-weather versions. Color options are available for cable coding and quick identification of electrical phases, circuits, feeders, and branches.

Filament Strapping Tape - Filament tape or strapping tape is used for medium and heavy-duty strapping, bundling, and palletizing applications. It contains a polypropylene or polyester film backing with fiberglass filaments embedded, giving the tape a high tensile strength. 

Film Tape - Good adhesion for surface protection applications. The tough polyethylene backing offers good abrasion and tear resistance. UV and solvent-resistant. Long-term aging stability without yellowing. The tape will not crack or craze after extended exposure.

Flagging Tape - Non-adhesive plastic marking ribbon used for surveying, mapping, tagging, roping off areas, or any other marking applications.

Flatback Paper Tape - The flat surface (vs. creped paper) results in high-quality printing. Easy unwind characteristic for high-speed printing. For flexographic printing, color coding, identification (write-on surface). This tape exhibits high face-to-face bond strength and offers a positive seal and excellent adhesion to discourage pilfering. With a good balance of quick stick and holding properties, this tape can be used on all types of cartons. Performs well under a wide range of temperatures and humidity conditions. Complies with USPS requirements. 

Foam Tape - Used extensively in the automotive, HVAC, and construction industries to provide air and weather-tight seals; for gasketing, cushioning, and vibration control in speakers, vehicles, electronic components, door frames, etc.

Foil Tape (Aluminum with Liner) - Used for vapor barrier protection, waterproof sealing, heat reflection, and masking in paint stripping and electroplating.

Foil Tape (Aluminum without Liner) - Used for waterproofing, vapor barrier and air leakage protection, metal patching, and sound dampening, as well as a sealing system in refrigerated appliances and microwave ovens. High reflectivity assures effective heat, light interference, and electrical insulation shielding.

Foil Tape (Copper) - Used for RFI/EMI shielding applications in the electrical/electronics industry.

Foil Tape (Lead) - Excellent adhesion to a wide variety of surfaces, especially to metal, glass, films, foils, and papers. Can be shaped to the most intricate patterns. Masking x-ray plates, electroplating, and chemical milling; radiation barrier, x-ray shielding; sealing double-paned windows; decorative leaded windows; weight balancing; electromagnetic and radio frequency shield.

Friction Tape - This woven cloth tape is also known as a cohesive fractioned cloth tape. Typically used for abrasion protection on wires and cables to cover electrical splices. Has excellent cohesion.

Gaffers Tape - Polyethylene-coated cloth laminated to a low gloss finish film, coated with a natural rubber-based adhesive. Conforms well to irregular surfaces and will not twist or curl during application. Excellent water, vapor, and abrasion resistance. Clean removal on most surfaces (surface type and dwell time may affect performance). Suitable for entertainment applications (concerts, trade shows, etc.) where minimal visibility of tape is desired. Used for holding down cables, wires, electrical cords, and marking placement on stages (i.e. “spike” tape). Suitable as a book binding tape for seaming and reinforcement.

Glass Cloth Tape - Conformable; chemical and solvent resistant, and printable. Used in strategic masking off areas for thermal spray/plasma spray applications. Also used for insulation of electrical apparatus and for sealing and bundling of non-electrical applications where flame retardancy or high heat resistance is required

Gummed Tape / WAT Tape - Gummed tape is a paper carton sealing tape, also known as water-activated tape (WAT), that when moistened, welds to the box it is being applied to, becoming part of the box. It bonds instantly to both virgin and recycled fiber surfaces and therefore, generates an immediate destructive bond resulting in a tamper-evident package. It is offered in both reinforced fiberglass and plain paper with many styles available in standard prints or customized prints.

Masking Film Tape - The two types of masking film tape are pre-taped and no tape. Pre-taped masking film has a strip of adhesive painter’s tape running along one edge of the film. The second kind has no tape, relying instead on the plastic’s static-cling properties to hold it in place.

Masking Tape (Painter's Tape) - Designed for superior performance in a variety of applications such as paint masking, holding, light-duty, splicing, bundling, packaging, and more.

Masking Tape (UV) - Provides clean removal characteristics and UV resistance – up to 14 days of outdoor exposure. A special characteristic of the adhesive system is that the peel adhesion does not increase with time, allowing for clean removal from a wide variety of surfaces without surface damage.

Pipe Wrap - Highly resistant to sun, water, oil, acids, alkalies, and corrosive chemicals. Bacteria, fungus, and abrasion resistant. Provides electrical protection. Protects pipe joints and conduit couplings for overhead or direct buried applications.

Polyimide Tape - Thin and conformable with outstanding tear and abrasion resistance at elevated temperatures. Adhesive will thermoset to increase adhesion values. Leaves minimal residue when removed after the manufacturing process, reduces clean-up time, and minimizes rejects. Permits observation of board during processing. Excellent resistance to acids, oils, solvents, aging, staining, and water immersion. Protects gold contacts from molten solder during the hot air wave solder leveling process.

Protection Film - Protection films are available in clear, blue, and black/white designs. This tape is manufactured for various surfaces and circumstances, including metal protection films for surfaces such as stainless steel and aluminum. Surface protection film for roofs and building materials including glass, tubs, sinks, and fiberglass. 

PTFE Tape (Coated Glass) - Used as a primary insulation in a variety of electrical equipment and heat sealing bars, chute liners, gaskets, bearing surfaces, tabletop covers, guide rails, and roll covers. Low friction surface and abrasion resistance. Comes with a liner (WL) or available self-wound (SW).

PTFE Tape (Skived) - Used in electrical applications such as harness/coil wraps and separators, transformers, and slot liners where good insulation and heat resistance are required. Also used in mechanical applications such as heat sealing bars and jaws, labeling machine pressure pads, chute liners, anti-friction devices, bearings, forming dies, aircraft mold release, and guide rails where high temperature, maximum slip, and lubricity are required. High elongation permits tight wrapping and conforms to sharp bends/irregular surfaces.

PVC Tape - Used for secure attachment of extruded plastic profiles in furniture and general industries. Used extensively for mounting signs and large format graphics. Recommended for bonding trims in automotive and other industries.

Reflective Tape - Primarily designed for permanent and temporary traffic signage. Also used for work zone devices and non-critical signs where retroreflection is necessary.

Safety Tape (Non-Skid) - Non-skid safety tapes provide a high traction, anti-slip, and waterproof surface to help prevent slips and falls. Aggressive acrylic adhesive bonds to a variety of materials and conforms to irregular surfaces. For use indoors and outdoors, typically on walkways, ramps, stairways, machine shops, and work areas to comply with OSHA 1910.263 (3).

Splicing/Printed Circuit Board Tape - Excellent resistance to solvents, heat, and chemicals. Used for component packaging and electrical insulation, edge reinforcement on books, webs, etc. Exhibits high resistance to abrasives, acids, oils, aging, staining, and water immersion.

Stucco Tape - A UV-resistant cloth duct tape used for protective masking of non-painted surfaces of various materials such as steel, vinyl, aluminum, and anodized metals. There is 50 percent more adhesive on this tape than the current best duct tape on the market. 

Tamper Evident Tape - Carton sealing tapes that leave a security legend deposited on the box or container upon removal, discouraging tampering with and theft of the contents of the sealed cartons. Used in applications where high security is critical, such as pharmaceuticals, chemicals, medical equipment, crime evidence, independent labs, currency handlers, money bags, credit card/security bags, shipping and cargo handlers, transportation in food items, and products of high cost and/or high demand, such as electronics, clothing, and sporting goods.

Teflon Tape - Teflon tape, also known as thread seal tape, PTFE tape, or plumber’s tape, is a PTFE film for use in sealing pipe threads. The tape is sold cut to specific widths and wound on a spool, making it easy to wind around pipe threads. Thread seal tape lubricates allowing for a deeper seating of the threads and it helps prevent the threads from seizing when being unscrewed. The tape also works as a deformable filler and thread lubricant, helping to seal the joint without hardening or making it more difficult to tighten, instead making it easier to tighten. 

White – used on threads up to 3/8 inch
Yellow – used on threads 1/2 inch to 2 inches, often labeled “gas tape”
Pink – used on threads 1/2 inch to 2 inches, safe for propane and other hydrocarbon fuels
Green – oil-free PTFE is used on oxygen lines and some specific medical gasses
Gray – contains nickel, anti-seizing, anti-galling, and anti-corrosion, used for stainless pipes
Copper – contains copper granules and is certified as a thread lubricant but not a sealer

UHMW Tape -  This tape has high chemical and abrasion resistance and extremely low coefficient of friction making this tape a top choice for many severe service applications. Materials slide freely over tape surfaces with no slip/stick tendency. High impact strength and shock-absorbing properties. Outwears Teflon and is a good replacement when high-temperature resistance is not a requirement. Rub strips on conveyors, bearings and sliding surfaces, chutes and hopper liners, dead plates, wear pads, guide rails, furniture, and drawer slides. Used primarily in automotive and mechanical applications.

Ultra High Bond Tape - Excellent all-around bonding properties and unique characteristics allow for very high performance in the most demanding of applications. The pressure-sensitive acrylic composition provides for very good tack, excellent adhesion to a variety of surfaces, and high shear strength performance.

Vinyl Tape - Used for color coding, lane marking, and safety coding to meet OSHA requirements. Also used for decorating, striping on vehicles, boats, sporting equipment, and other uses. Masking for hard chrome plating and anodizing, harness, pipe wrapping, duct, and joint sealing. Has a long shelf-life and “write-on” capability. It provides a very effective vapor and moisture barrier. It is highly conformable and resistant to aging, sun, water, fungus, bacteria, oil, acids, alkalies, and corrosive chemicals. It provides good abrasion, impact, and rupture resistance.

Warning Tape - Warning tape is used for permanent and temporary marking of hazardous areas, aisles, stairs, wires, cords, and more. Ideal for use in manufacturing, convention/exhibition halls, and residential/commercial sites. Hand-tearable and easy to use. Peels off easily upon removal, leaving no residue on most surfaces.

Rocket Industrial carries thousands of different tapes in all sizes and styles. Contact us to talk to a packaging specialist about your tape needs and find out how our tape slitting services can cut your material costs.