Duct tape and Duck Tape® are often used interchangeably, but they aren’t quite the same thing.
One of the most confusing things about purchasing tape can be finding out what type to get. There are many different types of tape, from masking tape to HVAC tape, gaffer’s tape, and more.
Perhaps the most widely-used and known tapes is duct tape, a powerful adhesive tape known for its versatility in both professional and household applications. But what is duct tape, and why do some people call it “duck tape” instead?
Modern duct tape was first invented in 1942 in the midst of World War II. Vesta Stoudt, a worker at an ordnance plant, is recognized as having originated the idea of a strong, cloth-based watertight tape. Recognizing the utility and value the product offered, it was quickly approved for manufacture by the government. Throughout the war, soldiers made frequent use of the product.
After the war, duct tape became popular with the general public. One popular use was holding together ventilation ducts. Ironically, while this is a use that duct tape does not normally have today, the name stuck and is used to this day. Today, duct tape refers to a range of tapes manufactured using three components – a rubber-based adhesive, cloth, and a backing.
The term “duck tape” today refers to a specific brand of duct tape. Duck Brand® duct tape takes its name from the original name of duct tape. This name came from two factors. First, the tape was originally made from an army green cotton duck fabric. And second, the water-resistant properties of the tape were said to repel water like the back of a duck.
Today, Duck Brand® duct tape is well-known – but some still inaccurately refer to all duct tapes generically as “duck tape”. However, only one brand has the original Duck Tape® – Duck Brand® – and any references to a generic “duck tape” shouldn’t capitalize the name. Just remember – duct tape refers to a broad range of tapes, while Duck Tape® refers to a specific brand of duct tape.