This is not going to be the most interesting or intellectual blogpost you have ever seen, especially from me, but I hope that it provides some useful insight to the products that I use on each and every job. As always, if you have any questions, comments, or concerns, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!
I have always wanted to have my bookkeeper go through my expenses for the year and determine just how much money I spend on tape. I have also considered rolling it back up and reusing it to save myself and my customers some money (not really, but maybe a little). I think I have a thing for tape. When I need to restock, I get very excited. Tape is something that I use on a daily basis, and it lives in my truck…a lot of it…maybe too much! There are hundreds of tape brands, types, and uses, but for this blog I am going to focus on the tapes that I use for site protection.
If you are a contractor you have most likely experienced damaging a finish while removing tape, and then panicked trying to determine how to go about repairing the damage. It generally is at the end of a project or late in the day when you are cleaning up and typically feels akin to getting punched in the gut. I have found it important to cover your ass in your contract regarding site protection and potential damage due to tape removal, but I also use products that I have found to be the least risky.
One tape that I use on prefinished hardwood and painted surfaces is green G Tape. It has an acrylic-based adhesive that removes easily, it tears straight without scissors, it holds very well, it is waterproof, and it is durable. I have had issues with residual adhesive when left in place for a long duration, but all in all it is a great product that holds well. A must have tape for your arsenal.
For painted walls or finish in place floors I will use green or yellow Frog Tape depending on how durable the finish. Green Frog Tape holds better than the yellow, which can be a good or bad thing depending on the finish. I have found both to be fairly safe on finish in place floors, painted walls, and wallpaper. These tapes have a moisture activated adhesive which is something to consider when using them. One advantage to using Frog Tape versus G Tape is that it is readily available in hardware stores.
I also use a fair amount of general purpose tan masking tape in various widths. I use this tape for taping the seams of resin/craft paper, taping plastic or floor protection to other tape, and in my masking machine. It is thin, holds well, and inexpensive. I do not use this tape on any delicate surfaces or finishes. It can be very difficult to remove and will damage finishes. This tape is used primarily for its cost saving benefits and durability.
Another tape that is always on my truck is packing tape. I use packing tape to tape the seams of padded or foam based underlayments like Econorunner. It is inexpensive, holds well on plastic or foam, it is waterproof, and it can be stretched very tightly without breaking. I do not use this tape on any finished surfaces as it will damage them. It is also a hassle to cut without an applicator, scissors or a knife.
Now for the tape of all tapes, the handyman special, or what I like to call West Virginia Chrome…duct tape. I generally do not use a lot of duct tape during site protection. I will use it to tape seams of masonite or flooring protection that needs a strong hold. It does not stick well to poly or paper, and it can easily damage finishes. It does hold well to metal, glass, or hard plastics, arm/leg hair, and tears easily. It can also be used to add some flare to a damaged bumper or fairing on a car (hence West Virginia Chrome). Duct tape is a decent all around stronghold in a pinch, but I have found specific tapes for specific applications to yield better results.
For most cardboard based flooring protection, I have found Ram Board tape of an equivalent paper-based tape to work the best. It does not have any elasticity or tensile strength, but it sticks very well to these paper-based products and it lays very flat. Do not ever apply this tape to a finished surface. It has a very strong adhesive and being that it does not have any elasticity and is very thin, it is very difficult to remove. It will damage almost any finish.
Lastly I do carry some double sided tapes for hanging plastic and poly film. It is nice because you can apply it to glass, plastic, or another tape and then hang your plastic directly on that. It is not inexpensive and it has a very specific use, so you can make due without it, but it does make your life easier when you have a lot of plastic to hang.
As mentioned earlier, I keep all of these tapes and more on my truck at all times. Each tape has specific and unique attributes and benefits. Yes, you could get away with Green Frog tape on most every application, but there are many instances where a less expensive tape will suffice and the Frog Tape is overkill. I would rather use multiple tapes that work amazing for each specific situation than one that will work “okay” for all situations. Jack of all, master of none.
- Tyler Grace