ALL IN THE DETAILS: ADHESION
Because of their wide range of use, blue painter’s tape and beige masking tape are two tools that should always be readily at hand in industrial environments with regular maintenance and repair needs.
Generally speaking, blue painter’s tape can be used for painting and a range of other maintenance tasks, while beige masking tape offers more utility for tasks that require a firmer hold—but should never be used to mask surfaces in painting. But to go even deeper, knowing how the material makeup of these products impacts their quality and performance can make a big difference in when you reach for the blue roll or the beige roll for the task at hand.
All painter’s and masking tapes are comprised of three components: a paper backing, an adhesive and a release coat that helps it peel off the roll. The makeup and quality of each of these components impacts the overall performance of the tape, but for the purposes of this article, we’ll focus on adhesive.
A high-quality adhesive formulation will ensure the tape makes proper contact with the surface, holds as long as it is intended and removes without damaging the surface or leaving behind a messy residue. A poor adhesive formula—or incorrect usage of painter’s or masking tape— can cause the tape to fail and result in poor results and even hours of rework.
Here’s a crash course in five basic properties of adhesion, along with tips that can help you make the best tape choice for your application.
Tack describes how quickly a tape’s adhesive initially sticks to a surface and creates a bond. The higher the tack, the faster the tape will hold in place. Painter’s tape typically has a lower tack, which is why it makes for a better choice in painting applications where you don’t want to damage the surface you’re masking. It’s also better for instances in which you may need to quickly remove and reposition the tape for more accuracy.
Bond is a measure of the “strength” of the adhesive’s hold, specifically how firmly the tape sticks to a surface over a given time period. When you need higher bond for applications like labeling tool drawers or bins of hardware, bundling extension cords or rope or quick on-the-fly repairs, reach for beige masking tape. Again, painter’s tape has a lower bond strength because it is designed to be removed easily after a short period of time.
- Temperature range.
Adhesive in painter’s tapes and general purpose masking tapes typically performs in temperature ranges from 50 F to 200 F. High-performance masking tapes, which are typically used for heavy-duty industrial applications, can be rated up to 350 F, depending on the product. For maintenance or repair tasks in hot environment, such as a boiler room, opt for a masking tape that can take the heat.
- UV resistance.
Some masking tapes and painter’s tapes use rubber or synthetic-rubber adhesives, which can break down and cause the tape to fail when exposed to direct sunlight for long periods of time. Some products, however, are specifically formulated with additives that help aid in UV-resistance. When choosing a masking tape for outdoor maintenance or repair projects or a painter’s tape for exterior repainting, make sure your tape includes UV resistance properties.
- Clean removal.
Regardless of the application, no one wants a sticky mess when the tape is removed. Tape removal should be quick and easy and leave no adhesive residue behind. To repeat: Use painter’s tape for painting. Use masking tape for holding, binding and quick repairs. Painter’s tape may not give you the strength you need for some repairs, while masking tape can damage the surface you’re painting. Every tape’s adhesive is rated for a period of time that it can remain on a surface and still remove cleanly—be sure to read the product packaging or manufacturer’s specifications to know your specific tape’s clean removal time.
Sticking to it
The next time you reach for a roll of tape, take a second to think about what you need the tape to do and then use these adhesion tips to make the best choice. You may be surprised at how well your tape performs when it’s put to the right task.