8 Kinds of Duct Tape: Are You Using the Right One??


The term, “duct tape” is probably the single biggest misnomer in the adhesive tape industry today!

When the concept of using an adhesive tape to seal the seams of galvanized duct work first came along, this was its only intended use, and the name stuck. (Pun intended).

Its initial design was simple but effective: a strong fabric bonded to polyethylene film for sealing/waterproofing, silver-gray coloring to match metal duct work, and a thick coating of adhesive to seal the joints and make them air tight.

But people quickly determined that duct tape could be used for a variety of other purposes, and the boom was on. Many new types of duct tape were manufactured – each with different qualities of fabric, polyethylene, and adhesive – for many different end uses. As a result, duct tape manufacturers now offer a wide range of grades of polyethylene/fabric types and in a wide variety of colors.

Here are 8 different kinds of duct tape being used today:

General purpose: With a low fabric count, a thin polyethylene film, and a low weight adhesive, these general-purpose tapes work well enough for odd jobs where long service life isn’t necessary.

Industrial grade: With these tapes, the fabric and polyethylene are upgraded, so the tape becomes more of a “workhorse” with added adhesive coating weight. One popular variation is multi-colored industrial tape that is used to seam and hold carpets at exhibitions, where the adhesive must be removed cleanly.

Professional grade: Sometimes called “contractors’ grade” these tapes offer more of an upgrade to the components of the industrial grade tape for added strength, adhesion, and durability.

Gaffer’s tape: Typically gaffer’s tape is a matte black for minimal light reflection and is used in movie, television, and photo studios to temporarily tape cables to the floor or light fixtures to vertical posts. This type of tape needs to be able to be easily torn by hand and remove cleanly.

Stucco tape: Stucco tape is used to attach protective polyethylene film over doors and windows during house construction prior to spraying the outside walls with stucco. Stucco tape is designed to be used outdoors for several days at a time, so it must be able to resist the ultraviolet of the sun’s rays during that time – and not come apart from the vinyl window frames.

True duct tape: This one lives up to its name – tape that is truly intended for sealing air ducts. Duct tape must be permanent and able to withstand the prolonged heat and air pressure for the lifetime of the duct. It may even need to be flame retardant to meet some building codes. Duct tape is the true top of the line, a high tensile, hardworking tape.

Coated cloth tape: A roll of coated cloth tape has gone with every U.S. manned space launch, and is also commonly known as “Mission Tape”. This tape played an essential role in the construction of the carbon dioxide absorbers which saved the lives of the three astronauts in the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission.

Pick the Right Duct Tape for Your Job 

With such a wide variety to choose from, start by considering exactly what you expect your tape to do. Then, evaluate the right polyethylene/fabric backing judged by tensile strength, as well as the right adhesive coating thickness, judged by adhesion level, for the best performance with the lowest cost.

Whether you’re looking for a type of duct tape, or a different adhesive tape, ECHOtape can help. Contact us today for help in selecting the right tape for your next job.