The Best Duct Tape for Household Repairs

Need a quick repair fix? The right duct tape can get you going again.

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The Best Duct Tape for Every Household Repair

Photo: amazon.com

If you’ve heard the expression “like water off a duck’s back,” you may be surprised to learn that it was the original inspiration for duct tape. This durable, cloth-backed tape was originally known as duck tape and was invented during World War II to help soldiers waterproof their ammunition cases. Over time, the Johnson & Johnson company developed a silver version specifically for sealing heating and air ducts, hence, duct tape.

Today, duct tape is the go-to product for quick fixes and sturdy repairs, both inside and outside your home. It can also be used for crafting, organizing, and DIY projects. With such a range of strengths and color options to choose from, which duct tape is right for your project? Read on to discover shopping tips and winning solutions when you’re in a pinch.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Gorilla Black Duct Tape
  2. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: 3M Multi-Use Duct Tape
  3. BEST FOR HEAVY DUTY: Berry Global Nashua Premium Grade Duct Tape
The Best Duct Tape Option:

Photo: istockphoto.com

Key Shopping Considerations

All 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. This guide focuses on commercial and premium duct tapes, which 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.

To determine what strength of duct tape to buy, read the label. For heavy-duty tapes, look for phrases like “double-thick adhesive” and “reinforced backing.” Some products will state the type of glue used, such as “synthetic rubber adhesive,” which will bind to a wide range of surfaces. Look for descriptions of the kinds of projects and surfaces each tape is designed for and whether it is suitable for outdoor as well as indoor use.

Water Resistance

Speaking of the great outdoors, duct tape can be especially helpful for repairs that require a tight, yet flexible, waterproof bond. All commercial-grade tapes are coated with clear plastic over the fabric layer. This coating is often waterproof or weather-resistant but make sure the label states this outright. Even if it does, be aware that some waterproof duct tape can still 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 prematurely or melt into the surface.

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 (like those made by 3M) 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 will lift and remove cleanly after they are placed and pressed down. Just remember that time, heat, and other surface factors can cause the adhesive to melt, making it harder and messier to remove.

Color Options

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

The best duct tapes include features such as strong adhesive strength, weather resistance, durability, and more.

Best Overall

The Best Duct Tape Option: Gorilla Black Duct Tape
Photo: amazon.com

This Gorilla Black Duct Tape is a top option for repairmen and homeowners because it’s durable, waterproof, and easily patches and repairs many surfaces. The highly-concentrated rubber adhesive glue is designed for both indoor and outdoor use and will stick to rough, uneven surfaces like wood, stone, stucco, plaster, and brick, but not as well on oily surfaces or ultra-smooth plastic surfaces. The tightly woven black fabric is coated with a weather-resistant shell to withstand sun and rain while still being easy to rip by hand.

Best Bang for the Buck

The Best Duct Tape Option: 3M Multi-Use Duct Tape
Photo: amazon.com

This duct tape is likely the most familiar to buyers: gray tape with the red 3M label. This duct tape is water-resistant and provides temporary rather than long-lasting repairs. The polyethylene adhesive forms strong bonds for general purpose use. It is also good for bundling cords, patching most holes, reinforcing tears, and packing boxes. The fabric tears both vertically and horizontally, so each piece can be tailored to the project. Each roll has 30 yards of tape.

Best for Heavy Duty

The Best Duct Tape Option: Berry Global Nashua Premium Grade Duct Tape
Photo: amazon.com

For heavy-duty home repairs, the Berry Global Nashua duct tape is a great choice to get the job done. The polyethylene-coated cloth layer is waterproof and designed to resist moisture, chemicals, solvents, punctures, and abrasions, making it the duct tape of choice for many contractors. With a strong natural rubber adhesive glue, this duct tape bonds extremely well to many surfaces, rough and smooth, and in temperatures between 40 and 200 degrees Fahrenheit. It works well on most home repairs, HVAC maintenance, packaging, plastering applications, camping equipment, cars, PVC pipes, and more. There are approximately 60 yards on each roll.