Three Things to Keep in Mind When Buying Duct Tape

Everyone knows there are few things duct tape can’t fix, but do you know what to look for in a roll of duct tape?

broken blue plate
You can fix almost anything with duct tape.Chuttersnap via Unsplash

Duct tape may be the great equalizer, but not all duct tape is created equal. While there are myriad uses for it, not just any duct tape should be used should be used for every situation. Consider the following when choosing the right duct tape for your next job.

Thickness

Black Gorilla duct tape
This tape is approximately 15 mils thick, making it one of the thicker duct tapes available.Gorilla

Duct tape thickness is typically measured in mils, which is short for milliinches or thousandths of an inch. The thicker the tape, the less flexible it will be, though very thin tape can be difficult to work with. Average mil thickness is between 9 and 11 mils, with 3 mils being at the low end and 17 mils being at the high end. While two packaged rolls might be of the same diameter, the total length could vary if one tape is considerably thicker than the other, so be sure to take note of the length of the roll.

Material Strength

3M Multi-Use Duct Tape
This is a good general-use tape for any number of tasks around the home, shop or jobsite.Scotch Brand

Duct tape consists of three components: A polyethylene surface, a cloth grid, and adhesive (more on the adhesive in a bit). The polyethylene serves as a bonding surface for the other two components and provides a waterproof backing. The cloth grid, or scrim, ultimately influences the tape's strength, flexibility, and tearability. The threads that run the length of the tape determine its material strength, or how much weight it can hold before breaking. The closer the threads that run across the tape are spaced, the cleaner the tear.

Adhesive

Lockport duct tape
Once you find a duct tape you like, get a multi-pack and stash a roll in the house, the garage, the shed, your toolbox, each vehicle, and anywhere else you need a fix-all solution close at hand.Lockpart

Every manufacturer has their own adhesive recipes. Some adhesives are designed to perform well on porous surfaces while others are optimized for extreme temperatures. Some remove cleanly while other leave behind residue. Take time to research whatever tape you're considering and determine whether its adhesive has the right characteristics for the task at hand.