Which Packing Tape Should You Use?

You might think that all packing tape is the same and simply seals a box and that’s it. But not all packaging tape is the same, and with a wide variety of different types to use out there, it can sometimes feel a bit overwhelming trying to pick the one best suited to your needs.

Acrylic, Hotmelt, or Solvent Adhesives

Packing tape

There are three different types of adhesives available for tapes, Acrylic, Hotmelt, and solvent. Each adhesive has different properties which make them more suitable for different situations. Acrylic adhesives work in a wider temperature range than hotmelts (0°C to 65° compared with 3°C to 50°C) as well as in more humid environments. Hotmelts, however, have a stronger adhesion than acrylics on many surfaces including cardboard and perform better under constant stress. Solvent-based tapes (Vinyl tapes can only use solvent adhesive) have the strongest adhesion properties and deal with extreme temperatures and high humidity the best, making it the favorite choice for heavy-duty packaging and export packaging.

Acrylic – Low cost, good for the majority of standard packaging needs

Hotmelt – Stronger adhesion than acrylic, and are more resistant to stress

Solvent – The strongest adhesive, works in extreme temperatures but is also the most costly


Polypropylene Packing Tape

Polypropylene tape is the most commonly used packing tape and is usually colored clear or brown. It’s very strong, durable, and resistant to breaking during the shipping process. It is generally the most economic type of packaging tape out there and is perfect for a no-frills tape for your everyday carton sealing and packaging requirements.

Low Noise Polypropylene Packing Tape

The concept of tape being ‘low noise’ might seem strange, but in a busy packaging department where multiple people are sealing cartons, the constant screeching of tape being applied soon makes it obvious why this is a popular type of tape. A variation of polypropylene tape rather than its own type of tape, it can significantly dampen the noise that standard polypropylene tape makes due to an electrostatic charge that is applied to it, creating a better working environment for your staff. Be aware though that in cold environments (usually below 6°c) the electrostatic charge that is applied to make this tape quieter fails.

Vinyl Packing Tape

Vinyl tape has more tack (due to the solvent adhesive used) and is stronger and thicker than polypropylene tape, being able to withstand more tension. It is also quieter when it is released from the roll without the need of a special variant unlike with polypropylene tape. Although stronger it can also be applied and torn by hand easily in addition to being used with a standard tape dispenser. Vinyl tape is much better suited for long-term storage and withstanding extreme temperatures, making it suitable for parcels that need freezing, refrigerating or are just likely to be transported and handled in cold environments. This extra strength though will mean it’s likely to cost you more than most polypropylene tapes.

Reinforced Filament Packing Tape

Reinforced with glass filament, this heavy-duty packing tape is very resistant against ripping and tearing and sticks solidly to a wide variety of surfaces, including cardboard, metals and plastics as it is highly adhesive which provides excellent strength. It is well suited to strapping items together, reinforcing packages and general carton sealing duties.

Gummed Paper Packing Tape

Gummed paper tape is made from Kraft paper (usually brown) with a natural adhesive that is activated when water is applied with a specialised dispenser. As the adhesive is only activated when it comes into contact with water it forms a very strong bond when used to seal cartons as the adhesive soaks into the cardboard and becomes part of the parcel, making it very difficult to tamper with. As it isn’t made from plastic, this tape is much more environmentally friendly as it can be recycled with the box but will also biodegrade over time as it is just made from paper. It has been growing in popularity, with companies such as the e-commerce giant amazon using it for their packages.

Self-Adhesive Kraft Paper Packing Tape

kraft paper tape

Also made from Kraft paper but with an adhesive that is already active when released from the roll, self-adhesive Kraft paper tape is a better option for anyone that wants a paper tape that acts as a standard type of packing tape. Again, being made from paper allows this tape to be recycled alongside the box that it is still attached to. Like other rolls of tape, it can be used with a standard pistol grip tape dispenser and is also easy to apply and tear by hand.

Although we can all agree that the main function of packaging tape should be to keep your boxes sealed, you can now see that different tapes can be better suited for certain situations and packaging needs. Whether you need something cheap and cheerful to keep a light parcel sealed for a short journey or something heavy-duty to keep heavy items secured over a long period of time.

The Best Packing Tapes for Your Storage and Moving Needs

Not all packing tapes are created equal. Here’s how you can choose the right one for shipping, mailing, or storage.

If you have ever grabbed a stray roll of packing tape and used it to secure a box or container that holds dishes, clothes, lamps, and other valuable items, only to have it give way and wind up damaging or destroying what’s inside, you may know the importance of good tape. You can avoid similar scenarios when you use the right kind of packing tape for different jobs and even climates.

Packing tape is made specifically to secure boxes for moving and storage needs, and there are various types with different adhesives and activators. Consider some of the best packing tape options available and discover one that is right for your needs.

types of Packing Tape

Packing tape is available in different styles and for various jobs, including carton sealing, cold temperature adhesion, water-activated adhesion, strapping strength, and masking qualities. The best packing tapes detailed here have universal qualities that benefit every user.

Carton-Sealing Tape

Carton-sealing tape is the most common type of packing tape. It is frequently used by those who work in packaging warehouses or moving companies, but almost everyone who has moved or stored items have used it. This tape is an excellent choice if your packages are not subjected to extreme temperature variations. If you use it on hefty packages or are worried about theft, you may want to choose a different type of packing tape.

Cold Temperature Tape

One problem with regular carton-sealing tape is that extremely low temperatures can render the adhesive ineffective. If you live in or are moving items to a cold climate, or if the items are stored or held in a refrigerated area (such as an ice cream truck or freezer), you want cold temperature tape. This tape uses the same liner as carton-sealing tape, but it has an adhesive specifically designed to hold fast when exposed to cold temperatures. However, as you might have guessed, this tape is not a great option for extremely warm temperatures.

Water-Activated Tape

When you ship items across the country or rely on movers to haul your possessions to a new location, security is an obvious concern. It’s easy to remove and reapply carton sealing tape without evidence.  You should consider water-activated tape to ensure your items stay secure. This tape activates when it is wet, bonds to cardboard, and creates a seal that you must cut or tear to break. When you remove the tape there is evidence of tampering.

Strapping Tape

If your boxes are too heavy for regular carton tape to securely seal, you should consider strapping tape. Manufacturers weave glass filaments or fiberglass into this tape, reinforcing the liner for added durability, strength, and flexibility. Strapping tape is a bit more expensive than other varieties, but it holds heavy items securely inside containers.

Masking Tape

Masking tape is a specialized tape with a pressure-sensitive adhesive that allows it to be easily applied and removed. The thin, paper liner, which is easy to tear, is designed for protecting areas like baseboards during painting. You can also use masking tape to secure light packages, but its weak adhesive means it won’t perform well on moderate to hefty packages.

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Packing Tape

Before you choose the best packing tape for your moving and storage needs, consider the following shopping considerations.

Adhesion Strength

The adhesion strength of a tape determines how effectively it sticks to a surface and is a significant factor in how you should use it. How heavy are the boxes you are packing? How strong does your tape have to be to fulfill its purpose? These are important considerations because they determine the type of tape you need.

  • Masking tape is the weakest of the packing tape types, having both the lowest adhesion strength and liner strength.
  • Carton-sealing tape has strong adhesion and will serve most light packing purposes. However, weighty contents will stress and possibly break this tape.
  • Water-activated tape cannot come unstuck once activated, which makes it perfect for containers holding heavy items. Its resistance also deters thefts. However, if you pack multiple boxes, it can get frustrating to wet your tape continually.
  • Strapping tape uses the same strong adhesive as carton sealing tape, but the liner is much more robust so it provides more support and durability.


Moving & Storage Circumstances

Before you choose a packing tape, consider the moving or storage conditions. A short move to a new house in the same city won’t require tape with long-lasting adhesive, but you will want to make sure it is strong enough to support your most substantial boxed items. Alternately, storing a package for months at a time will depend heavily on the longevity of the adhesive. The liner’s strength isn’t a significant factor when the box is in long-term storage.

However, moving versus storage isn’t the only consideration. How are you moving? If you hire movers, then you may want to use water-activated tape to keep your belongings safe from theft. If you plan to store boxes or cartons year-round in frigid climates or move to a frigid climate, choose cold weather tape.

There are many other considerations to keep in mind: humidity, precipitation, or even the method you use to transport your packages. For example, boxes on a boat will be subject to high moisture, while those on a truck may be subjected to shifts. Always keep in mind the travel and storage conditions when deciding on packing tape.


Required Amount of Tape

Determine the amount of tape you will need before you begin the project so that you don’t get partway through your packing and have to run to the store for more tape. Packing tape manufacturers will always list how much tape is included on a roll and bulk package. You can measure this in two ways.

First is the width of the tape, which is commonly between 0.5 inches and 4 inches. You need to know the width of the space where the tape will be applied so that you can bind the surfaces and provide an adequate seal. The second is the length of the tape on the roll. You commonly measure rolls in yards, but you can also measure them in inches or feet. If you estimate the amount of tape you need, always err on the side of caution. Get more than you need so you don’t run out halfway through. After all, extra tape around the house is never a bad thing (within reason).


Tape Roll vs. Integrated Dispenser

Tape can come by itself on a roll, or you may be able to find an integrated tape dispenser that makes it easy to quickly and efficiently apply tape to your packages.

  • Tape rolls on their own are simple and easy to use. Just find the edge of the tape and pull to unravel it from the roll. Rolls are easier to store without dispensers, and you can control the amount of tape you use more effectively.
  • Integrated dispensers can make it more challenging to have a controlled pull of the tape. You may wind up using a bit more tape, but you likely won’t miss it, especially when you have multiple boxes to pack. You can use the handle and cutting blade on a dispenser to quickly stick, pull, and cut your tape.



Ease of Use

Applying a piece of tape seems easy enough, but depending on the type you get, you may be spending a lot more time just getting your tape to stick.

  • Masking tape is relatively simple to use, but the liner and adhesive are weaker than any other packing tape. This can cause the tape to break or come detached, forcing you to reapply it.
  • Carton-sealing tape is the most common type of packing tape. Due to its popularity, you can find many products with integrated dispensers that make it incredibly easy and quick to use.
  • Water-activated tape is the most challenging type to use because the adhesive does not become activated until you expose it to water. The strong bond formed in the process is incredible, but if your tape is in the wrong place when it gets wet, you will have a hard time correcting the issue.
  • Strapping tape is similar to carton-sealing tape in ease of use; however, it is less popular, so you may find it challenging to find an integrated dispenser with the strapping tape product.


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