Which Packing Tape Should You Use?

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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

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 favourite 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 also the most costly

Polypropylene Packing Tape

Polypropylene tape is the most commonly used packing tape and is usually coloured 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.

Polypropylene Packing Tape

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. 

Vinyl Packing Tape

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

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.

Self Adhesive Paper Packing Tape


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.    

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Rick Stanford

Rick has been a salesman in the packaging supplies business for more than thirty years. Now semi-retired, he divides his time between tending his allotment in north Devon, getting depressed at the continuing travails of his home-town football club Macclesfield Town, and sharing his considerable experience and knowledge with the readers of the Davpack blog. Davpack

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2 Comments to Which Packing Tape Should You Use?

  1. hilary says:

    why though is paper tape more expensive than plastic ?

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