The Best Duct Tape for Household Repairs
How do you decide which is the best duct tape for your project? Keep reading to get our top tips on navigating the available options—and don't miss our top picks!
Though originally designed for sealing heating and air ducts, duct tape has a nearly endless range of uses for quick fixes at home, both indoors and out. Duct tape can also be used for crafting, organizing, and DIY projects. Which is the right tape to choose for your project? Keep reading for our top tips and recommendations for navigating the options, and don’t miss our roundup of favorites among the best duct tape options available.
- BEST VALUE: 3M Multi-Use Duct Tape
- BEST FOR QUICK FIXES: Gorilla Black Duct Tape
- BEST FOR CRAFTS: Anvel Colored Duct Tape
- BEST FOR HEAVY DUTY: Nashua 357 Polyethylene Coated Premium Grade Duct Tape
Key Shopping Considerations
Duct tape is made of three layers, which makes it flexible, strong, and often waterproof. The top layer is polyethylene plastic, the middle layer is cotton fabric, and the bottom layer is rubber- or polymer-based glue. All duct tape must also meet a series of standard tests designed by the American Society for Testing and Materials.
Duct tape is classified into different grades: military, industrial, premium, and commercial. We will focus on commercial and premium grade duct tapes. These grades are most useful for home and outdoor repair and maintenance, crafting, and DIY. When choosing a general purpose duct tape, you’ll want to consider the following factors.
Adhesive and Tensile Strength
The two properties that make duct tape so unique and useful are its stickiness (adhesive strength) and stretchiness (tensile strength).
- Adhesive strength depends on the type of glue used. Duct tape adhesive is either rubber-based, for strong bonds, or polymer-based, which is less binding.
- Tensile strength depends on the weave and thread count of the cloth layer, which is made of cotton mesh. This cloth forms the flexible middle layer and gives the tape its distinctive stretchiness. A higher thread count results in a stronger tensile strength and a greater ability to bear weight and withstand stress.
Base your choice of duct tape on the level of tensile and adhesive strength best suited to your project. For home repairs, you’ll want a tape that will not leak, peel off, or tear. This often requires a higher thread count and strong rubber-based glue. For craft projects, you may want a lower strength tape, so you can rip, remove, and manipulate it easily. A polymer-based adhesive and thinner cotton layer may serve you better in this case.
Duct tape can be especially helpful for repairs that require a tight, flexible, waterproof bond. Duct tapes are coated with clear plastic over the fabric layer. This coating is often waterproof, or at least weather-resistant. However, be aware that even waterproof duct tape can fail in certain situations. Extreme temperatures and excess humidity can affect both the adhesive bond and its water-repelling powers, causing duct tape to peel or melt.
Ease of Use
Duct tape’s stickiness and stretchiness are its greatest strengths. The trick is finding a product with just the right blend of those qualities to suit your needs and projects. Even heavy-duty duct tapes should peel and rip easily and cleanly off the roll, preferably by hand. Certain tapes will rip both vertically and horizontally, for maximum ease and range of use. The adhesive should firmly adhere to whatever surface you are taping, but it shouldn’t stick to itself as you peel it off the roll. Many duct tapes lift and remove cleanly after they are placed and pressed down. As noted above, however, high heat, the passage of time, and other surface factors can make duct tape more difficult to remove.
Due to its military origins, duct (or duck) tape was originally green. The most common colors now are silver, black, white, and clear. Silver duct tape is intended to match the metal sheeting of air ducts but can be used for many other residential and industrial purposes. Black, white, and clear duct tape are designed to blend in with the project at hand, whether you are repairing a bicycle seat or patching a leaky garden hose. But don’t limit your duct tape use to repair and maintenance. This fabric tape is great for crafting, kids’ school projects, and DIY home design and organization. You can easily find duct tape in rainbow colors and a wide array of patterns for any mood or idea that may strike.
Our Top Picks
1. BEST VALUE: 3M Multi-Use Duct Tape
Affordably priced 3M Multi-Use Duct Tape is water-resistant (though not waterproof) and succeeds in temporary rather than long-lasting repairs. It is also good for bundling cords, patching, reinforcing, and packing. The fabric tears both vertically and horizontally, so you can tailor the size of your tape to each project.
2. BEST FOR QUICK FIXES: Gorilla Black Duct Tape
Highly durable, waterproof Gorilla Black Duct Tape is a solid choice for small repair jobs around the house. It is designed for both indoor and outdoor use and will stick to rough, uneven surfaces like wood, stone, stucco, plaster, and brick. The tightly woven black fabric is coated with a weather-resistant shell but is still easy to rip by hand. The double-thick, rubber-based adhesive takes hold in rain or sunshine, though it may struggle in conditions of high heat.
3. BEST FOR CRAFTS: Anvel Colored Duct Tape
With ten different colors and an easy, tear-by-hand design, Anvel’s 10-pack is a worthy option for decorative crafts projects, and you get a lot of product for the price. The glue is low residue but sticky enough stay put. It is also weather-resistant and suitable for outdoor use.
4. BEST FOR HEAVY DUTY: Nashua 357 Polyethylene Coated Premium Grade Duct Tape
For a heavy-duty duct tape, check out Nashua 357 Polyethylene Coated Premium Grade Duct Tape. One of its best qualities is its supreme stickiness. The polyethylene-coated cloth layer is waterproof and designed to resist moisture, chemicals, solvents, punctures, and abrasion, making it suited not only to common home repairs, but also to applications such as plastering and HVAC maintenance.