Why Doesn’t Adhesive Tape Stick in the Cold?

Why doesn’t your adhesive tape stick in the cold weather? Why does it becomes dry, brittle, and offers little-to-no tack? Why does it lift and peel within days?

To fully understand the reason why adhesive tape doesn’t stick in the cold requires consideration of the variety of different types of adhesives available and the way they are created. Some are applied as a liquid and then they transform into a solid. Depending on their function, they are engineered accordingly.

What Exactly Happens to Tape in the Cold?

What makes adhesive tape different from other adhesives is that they have the properties of both a liquid and a solid. The liquid component is needed to provide the “wetness” (tack or stickiness) for good initial contact, and the solid component is critical to resist any forces (AKA sheer strength) that could threaten to remove the application.

Yet when cold temperatures occur, the liquid component of the adhesive tape hardens, similar to what happens to butter in the refrigerator. The tape loses its natural form and its overall tackiness. It can therefore no longer make the adequate contact needed for good adhesion. If the temperatures continue to drop, the tape will eventually freeze, turning the liquid component into a tack-free solid.


When Does Tape Freeze in the Cold?

So at what temperature does this happen? It depends on the type and design of the adhesive. Typical adhesuve tapes will freeze long before the freezing temperature of water is reached; while other specially designed tapes will continue to stick below freezing temperatures.

When the tape won’t stick because it’s too cold, you have two options:

  • Increase the temperature of the tape and the surface the tape is applied to; ideally to around 20 degrees Celsius.
  • Get a tape that is specifically engineered and designed to work in cold weather

Bottom line is that when you are working on a tape application in cold weather, you will need a cold-weather tape that’s right for the job. Not all tapes are designed to work in this type of weather.  ECHOtape’s global head office is in Canada, so we have been attuned to this issue since the inception of the company.   Look to us when you need a cold-weather tape that can work!

For more information about tape visit The Complete Technical Guide to Adhesive Tape.  or contact us with any questions you may have about your cold weather tape requirements.