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Duct tape and electrical tape are both very strong tapes, but cannot be used interchangeably. Here are the most common questions we get about these two types of tapes.
No. Never use duct tape as an alternative to electrical tape. Duct tape is strong, but it can’t wrap as tightly around wires and contains cloth fibers which can be an extreme fire hazard. Electrical tape is designed specifically for safely insulating electrical wires and materials that conduct electricity.
Duct tape is a cloth backed pressure sensitive tape that forms an instant strong adhesive bond. It was created during World War II as an easy, secure alternative to sealing ammunition boxes with tape and wax. The thin cloth design makes the tape easy to tear, but the adhesive has a high level of material strength. Duct tape is extremely versatile and today is used for a variety of purposes. It can be used for everything from sealing boxes to home repairs.
Duct tape is heat resistant and is safe for use in temperatures up to 200 degrees Fahrenheit, but the adhesive will not hold well to extremely hot surfaces. It will eventually soften and melt due to the fabric and rubber material. In cold environments, the duct tape’s adhesive begins to harden destroying the adhesive, so it’s not recommended for use in freezing temperatures.
Due to its polyethylene coating, duct tape is water resistant on most surfaces. It can hold up for an extended amount of time bonded to a smooth, non-porous surface.
Electrical tape is a pressure-sensitive tape used to insulate electrical wires, cables, circuits, and other conductive materials. It’s made of stretchy, hard-to-tear vinyl or PVC giving it the ability to fit snuggly around wires. Although black is the most common color, electrical tape comes in a variety of colors for color-coding wire applications.
Electrical tape is very durable and can withstand water and humidity, but it’s not technically waterproof. It is considered to be water resistant due to the vinyl or PVS material, but the adhesive on the tape will eventually break down and be unable to provide a watertight seal.
Most electrical tapes regardless of the material are able to withstand temperatures up to 176 degrees Fahrenheit. To be considered electrical tape, the tape must have nonflammable and heat resistant properties.