Tape may seem like a pretty simple material with a limited range of applications, but that is far from the truth. Tape comes in such a wide range of types, sizes, colors and adhesive strengths that it’s hard to picture a job that wouldn’t be easier in one way or another with the right tape. Not every kind is suitable for every task, however. Choosing tape that is not designed for the job you’re working on may result in a lack of adhesion or a sticky residue that’s nearly impossible to remove. Carefully weigh your options and keep the following questions in mind as you shop:
        • What types of tape are available?
        • What kinds of tape should be used for painting projects?
        • What other applications can tape be used for?
        • How strong do you need the adhesive to be?
        • What kind of surface are you working with?

Types, Usage and Removal

Whether you are looking for a specific type of tape to help you complete some projects around the house or you just need a reliable all-purpose tape, there are a large number of options available. Choosing the right tape for your application depends on the strength of the adhesive required and how smooth or rough your surface is. Some types of tape are available with varying degrees of adhesive power. Others come in multiple colors, a feature that can be especially handy when working with electrical wires or other objects where a system of classification would be helpful. Removing tape can be a sticky proposition if it’s been left on too long, so it is important to know how long tape can remain in place and still be easily removed. You’ll want to take the duration of your project into account when making a decision.
Paint and Masking Tape: Before you begin painting a room, you’ll need to apply tape to trim, molding, electrical outlets, window and door frames and anywhere else that you don’t want to splatter or accidentally brush with paint. In the past, masking tape was widely used for this purpose. While there are still a large number of masking tape options, special tape formulated specifically for paint applications is now available. Painting tape is usually blue in color and features a generous width. It is easy to remove and won’t leave a residue. It is designed to prevent paint from seeping through, keeping surfaces protected from drips and brush strokes. If you’re painting a surface that’s been painted previously, use repainting tape, which is specially designed to come off cleanly after it has been applied to previously finished surfaces.
        • Painting tape comes in different types and widths to handle a variety of surface textures and types
        • Masking tape with a low level of adhesive won’t leave a sticky residue behind or damage the surface when 
          it’s removed
        • Masking tape can also be used for general-purpose applications
Carpet and Electrical Tape: Laying down rugs and carpets is much easier with the help of carpet tape, which features adhesive on both sides. It is designed for use on wood, concrete, ceramic tile or vinyl floors and helps hold carpeting in place for easier installation. Electrical tape is used to insulate materials that conduct electricity. It comes in multiple colors, allowing you to color code wires for easier identification.
        • Carpet tape may be used indoors or out and holds rugs and carpet securely in place
        • Carpet tape is flexible, moisture-resistant and highly durable
        • Electrical tape can form a watertight seal protecting wires from exposure to moisture
Packaging and Duct Tape: For packing boxes, moving or sending out packages in the mail, use a packaging, or sealing, tape designed to seal boxes and other containers. Packaging tape is designed to seal instantly and provide a strong, firm hold. Duct tape may be one of the most useful and versatile materials you ever lay your hands on. Originally called “duck tape” because it was used to provide a watertight seal for ammunition cases, duct tape has become an indispensable part of any do-it-yourselfer’s tool box. It’s available in a variety of colors and provides a strong hold. Duct tape is made up of three layers. The top layer is a durable plastic, the middle layer is a fabric mesh and the bottom layer is the adhesive.
        • Packaging tape is usually clear and often requires a knife or scissors to cut
        • Some duct tape is specially designed for rough, uneven surfaces
        • Look for duct tape with enhanced tensile strength for heavy-duty tasks


Characteristics and Features


Carpet • Flexible
• Resists moisture
• Highly durable
• Both sides are adhesive
• Secures rugs and carpets in place
• May be used indoors or out
Duct • Available in multiple colors
• Provides strong adhesive
• Features three layers
• Some may be specially designed for rough,
  uneven surfaces
• Can be used for a virtually unlimited
  number of tasks
• Fixing vacuum or garden hoses
• Wrapping shovel or rake handles to
  prevent blistering
• Patching wading pools and other leaky
Electrical • Available in multiple colors
• Often made of vinyl
• May be UV-resistant
• Usually water-resistant
• Can form a watertight seal
• Insulates wires and other materials that
  conduct electricity
• Use different colors to mark wires and
  other components for easy organization
Masking • Available with varying levels of adhesive
• May be specially designed to handle rough-
  textured or delicate surfaces
• May be used for protection during painting
• Use delicate surface tape on wallpaper,
   laminated paneling and other finished
Mounting • Both sides are adhesive
• Usually available in small, square foam
• Used for hanging posters, pictures, mirrors
  and other objects on walls
Packaging • Seals instantly
• Provides a strong hold
• Works best with a tape gun
• Used to seal boxes and other containers
Painting • Often blue in color
• Comes off cleanly without leaving residue
• Available in various widths
• Protects door frames, trim, floorboards
  and more during paint application
• Repainting tape is designed for use on
  previously painted surfaces

Usage and Removal: Tape can be used on surfaces ranging from wood and metal to plastic and plaster. An important point to remember is that different types of tape adhere with varying degrees of success to different surfaces. Make sure the tape you’re using is designed to work on the surface you’re applying it to. Many types of tape will specify how long they can be left in place before they will fail or harm the surface they’re adhered to. This time frame may range anywhere from a few days to a couple months or more. When it comes time to remove tape, do it at a medium pace. Removing tape too quickly may cause it to break or splinter. Removing it too slowly increases the likelihood of transferring adhesive from the tape to the surface underneath. Remove tape as soon as possible to minimize problems.
        • Different types of tape are designated to withstand a range of temperatures
        • Make sure surfaces are clean and dry before applying tape
        • Try not to stretch tape when you apply it, as stretching may cause tape to lift or break
        • Putty knives are ideal for pressing tape into place evenly
        • Remove tape at a 45° angle; if it continues to stick try a 90° angle


Tape Gun: When you’ve moving, there’s no shortage of boxes to pack. Taping them by hand can become tedious pretty quickly. For faster, more efficient tape application, and to save some wear and tear on your hands, use a tape gun. Tape guns feature a sharp row of serrated teeth that cut through tape easily, saving you from having to get the scissors out and clip every few seconds.
Pre-Taped Drop Cloths: Drop cloths protect floors, furniture and more during painting projects. Taping them in place, however, can be a frustrating and time-consuming activity. Look for pre-taped drop cloths to cut down on some of the effort. With tape already in place, you can get to work faster.
UV Resistance: Exposure to sunlight causes tape to bake onto the surface it is adhered to, making it much more difficult to remove. When painting or working outside, look for painter’s tape that is resistant to sunlight and UV rays, which will make it much easier to remove when the job is done.
Tape Measure Tape: There are some tasks, such as painting or hanging pictures, where measurements come in handy. Some tape features inch markings, allowing you to measure while you work without having to get out your tape measure.
Clear Tape: If you want to see the surface underneath tape or prefer that it be somewhat inconspicuous, look for clear masking or duct tape.