Should you go for gaffer tape or duct tape? Both are multi-purpose, have strong bonds due to their fabric reinforcement, and they are also pressure-sensitive. But how do you tell which is the best one for the application you have at hand? Which of the two is heat tolerant, tear-resistant or water-resistant?

Well, it is common to get confused between these two tape types. If anything, they have a great semblance, and near-similar qualities and features. However, it pays to know the difference between the two so that you can choose the one that will be most suitable for the application you have at hand. In this piece, we will highlight the most common differences between the two, and also help you learn how to determine which would be most suitable for your needs.

What is duct tape?

Duct tapes are pressure sensitive tapes made from polyethylene cloth backing on one side, and an aggressive rubber-based adhesive on the other side. Unlike tapes such as foil tapes, the fabric used on the back of the tapes makes them strong while still allowing them to be easily torn and adhered to a variety of surfaces. They have been praised for their versatility and strength, giving them room to be used in a variety of applications in multiple industries.

What is gaffer tape?

Gaffer’s tapes, on the other hand, are pressure-sensitive tapes made from cotton clothes with very strong adhesive properties. It is widely used in industries such as photography, movie and TV production, industrial staging works and theatres.

These tapes are made from fabric material and not vinyl like in the case of duct tapes. They will never cause any harm to the surface they are adhered to, and they are also more resistant to heat. When they need to be removed from the surface they are adhered to, they will come out without leaving any residue.

The major differences between gaffer’s tape and duct tape

Most people usually confuse these two tape types, but when you understand certain subtle features about them, differentiating them will always be a simple task. A major difference between gaffer tape and duct tape is that Gaffer tape can be removed cleanly without leaving any residue on the adhering surface. The reason for this is that gaffer tapes are not made of natural rubber, but they are made of synthetic-based adhesives. Duct tapes, however, will not remove cleanly.

Another major difference between the two is in the areas of application. Gaffer tapes are mainly used to secure cables to the stage floor. They can also be used to lay blocking markers for actors and other people during the production of a movie or a TV series. Duct tapes, on the other hand, are used in situations where strong, sticky and flexible tapes are needed. Since they have a long-lasting adhesive and good resistance to weathering, they are versatile enough to be applied in a variety of fields. For decades, duct tapes have been used in the military, aerospace, automotive, construction, and electrical industries, among others.

Which is the best – Gaffer’s tape or duct tape?

The best tape between gaffer’s tape and duct tape will depend on what you want to do, and some other factors. Here are a few tips to help you decide the right tape for you:

The application

If you are in the arts and entertainment industry, and you are looking for a dependable tape to help you hold the wires and cables securely while you go about your business, then gaffer tape will be your tape of choice. For applications away from the entertainment industry, duct tape will be recommended for their strength and versatility.

Permanent or temporary adhesive

Duct tapes are ideal when you are looking for a permanent or semi-permanent adhesive solution. They are the go-to tape if you want to make long-lasting repairs on the spot. They adhere strongly and will not remove cleanly like gaffer tapes, hence, their suitability for permanent or long term applications.

Gaffer tapes, on the other hand, are ideal for temporary applications. They are the best tape type when you can’t afford to damage the surfaces beneath. Apart from the arts and entertainment industry, these tapes will serve well for setting up tradeshow display materials. Once the show is over, you can easily remove them without worrying about ruining the marketing materials where they were adh