When it comes to choosing the right duct tape for the job, it’s important to understand how they are tested and measured. Below are common tape performance characteristics to consider:
- Thickness: Measured in mils, thickness (or gauge) is often thought of as a reflection of a tape’s overall strength; however, it is not always indicative of a tape’s adhesion or holding power. Thinner tapes are typically considered economy or utility grade and are recommended for everyday/general purpose use, whereas thicker tapes are often designed with thicker adhesive coatings and backings for heavier duty applications.
- Adhesion to Steel (ATS): Measured in ounces per inch, adhesion to steel is the amount of force required to remove the tape once applied. The higher the number, the more force it takes to remove once applied. Keep in mind: adhesion to steel does not directly correlate to adhesion on other surfaces, such as brick or cardboard.
- Tensile: Measured in pounds per inch, tensile is the amount of force required before the tape breaks. The higher the number, the more stress the tape can endure before breaking.
- Shear: Measured in minutes, shear is the holding power or ability of the tape to resist slippage. Shear is particularly important in applications in which the tape is holding something in place, such as in HVAC applications when seaming and sealing ductwork.
- Tack: Tack is the initial affinity a tape’s adhesive has to grab a surface or substrate with little to no pressure. Keep in mind: Stickier isn’t necessarily better! Good finger tack, or quick stick, is not always a reflection of strong adhesion or shear.
- Elongation: Expressed in percent, elongation is the amount a tape has stretched, lengthwise, just before breaking. The higher the percentage, the more give the tape has.
- Adhesion to Backing: Measured in ounces per inch, adhesion to backing is the ability of a tape to adhere to itself. Adhesion to backing is particularly important to consider in those applications where the tape is layered or shingled, such as bundling.
- Clean Removal: Clean removal is the ability of the tape to be removed from the substrate or surface without leaving behind a sticky residue. Clean removal properties are often critical in temporary jobs or in applications in which there can be no surface damage, such as marking, remodeling or restoration jobs.
Next time you need to choose the right tape for the job, be sure to consider these performance characteristics to help ensure a job well done.