A Complete Guide To Packing Tapes for Ecommerce Stores

Guide to packing tapes


Packing tapes are an integral part of shipping goods to retailers, vendors, and customers. If you run an online brand, it is even more important, as the customer's first impression is when they receive your packaging in the mail. A well-packed box can make the difference between receiving a damaged product and receiving a packed box in excellent condition. 

If you are not familiar with different types of tapes and what to pack them with, this task can become incredibly overwhelming. When it comes to shipping products, there are several types of packing tapes available, depending on the type of package you send. This article will cover some basics of what you need to know about packing tapes, the different types of packing tapes and their pros and cons to help you find the right choice for your business. 

What are packing tapes used for? 

Packing tapes are often used to seal boxes and to keep everything secure and the packages themselves from breaking open. They're also used when you want to tape down the package content such as fragile items, such as glassware or china, before shipping them. In your household, you can use packaging tape in your household to hang up posters, display items on the wall, or glue down rugs.

What are the different types of packaging tape?

There is a wide range og different types of packaging tape. Each has a unique function and is designed to accomplish a specific task. 

Here are the different types of packing tapes:

Clear Packing Tape

clear tape
Clear packing tape. Credit: Pexels
Also known as plastic packaging tape or acrylic tape – This is used to seal boxes and shipping containers. It can also be used to help create a water-resistant barrier if you want to seal something that will come into contact with water, such as an electronics package or other item that needs protection from liquid spills.

Cold Packing Tape

As the name implies, these tapes are great for colder temperatures where the regular packing tapes would fail to perform adequately. Ideal for sending food items, or during cold weather and in unheated warehouses. 

Gummed Tape

custom gummed tape

Gummed tape, otherwise known as water-activated tape, is one of the two paper packing tapes on this list. When wet, the adhesive gets activated, bonds to the cardboard, and forms a seal that must be broken by cutting or tearing.

A lot of people make the mistake of thinking gummed tapes are not as strong as clear packing tapes because it is more eco-friendly. However, that could not be further from the truth. Gummed tapes are widely used by businesses of all sizes, from small shops to e-commerce giants such as Amazon. 

Washi Tape

Washi Tape is a popular decorative tape that originated in Japan. These tapes are also used to decorate the interior of notebooks and books or to tape wrapping paper. Because of that, they are usually narrower than regular packing tape rolls. They can be found in many different colors and patterns. There are washi tapes that have a special finish on them, while other types are plain white or glossy.

Masking Tape

Masking tape is a type of tape that has a pressure-sensitive adhesive that allows it to be applied and removed quickly. Masking tape can also be used to secure light packages, but its poor adhesive means it won't hold up to moderate to heavy loads. Ideal for taping wrappers or fragile items that would otherwise rip if using more heavy-duty tapes. 

Tamper Evidence Tape

Tamper evidence tape looks like regular tape when you first apply it to the box. However, it reveals a second layer that “imprints” a message on the box (which usually says “void” or “opened”). The message can be customized. This is perfect for sending packages with highly sensitive content. 

Which of those are considered eco-friendly tapes?

Of the shipping tapes above, gummed tape and washi tape are generally considered eco-friendly.

Most of the other types of tapes are either made of polypropylene backing, which is essentially plastic, or have polymer adhesive, or both. In both cases, these are the components that would not be easy to break down and become harmful to the environment if they are not sorted and handled in one of the recycling centers. 

Washi tapes are made from washi paper, and the tape can be recycled at a point where the paper is separated from the adhesive.

Gummed tapes are the most eco-friendly of all tapes, as they are made of paper, and the adhesive is made from natural, vegetable glue, so the entire tape can be recycled without needing to be removed from the box. However, if the gummed tape is reinforced with fiberglass, it needs to be separated from that reinforced fibers as they are non-recyclable. 

What to consider when choosing the best packing tapes?

Adhesive strength

One of the major considerations when buying packing tapes is adhesive strength. Having tapes that look great is a big bonus, but at the end of the day , if the tape cannot keep your packages secure, then the whole purpose of having them is defeated.


gummed tape floral prints

Nowadays, tapes are not just limited to brown or clear, but you can choose from any of the attractive designs on gummed tapes or washi tapes. If budget and space allow, you can even order custom tapes with your own logo and designs on them. Tapes with great designs will help a generic brown carton to stand out from afar.

Print quality

For those who choose packing tape to impress and align with their brand's aesthetics, print quality on the tapes is equally important. Since these tapes are repeatedly exposed to sunlight, weather, and other harsh environments, their print colors must remain intact for a long time. 

Tape length

Standard packing tapes usually have 2 length options, which are roughly 50 yards and 100 yards. If you usually do high-volume shipping, having longer tape rolls would mean having to change the rolls less frequently. You will also save a bit more when buying longer rolls. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between reinforced tape vs non-reinforced tape?

Reinforced tapes have a series of cross fiberglass strands that go across the tape to add strength and durability to it. The reinforced tapes are ideally for heavy packages over 30lbs. As e-commerce packages are usually under 30lbs, the non-reinforced tapes are more than enough to secure the shipping boxes. 

Which packing tape is the strongest?

Scotch heavy-duty tapes are generally known for their strength and durability. The Scotch Tough Grip Moving Packaging Tape is considered one of the strongest tapes available, claiming to hold up to 80 pounds per box.

As mentioned above, small shops often only do lightweight shipping, so either clear packing tapes or gummed tapes (non-reinforced) are more than enough most of the time. 

How much tape do I need per box?

floral gummed tape

It's usually down to preferences, but at minimum, you should aim for a 3" (just over 7.5cm) overhang on each side. Simply double that number if you need to tape the bottom of the box too. 

How big are the packing tapes?

The standard tapes are 2 inches wide (5cm). The washi tapes are a bit narrower than that, as they are meant for taping smaller items or for decorations.

What is the fastest way to apply packing tape to a box?

Consider using a tape dispenser. If you are using gummed tape, the gummed tape dispenser (which is designed to get the tape to run through a wet sponge to activate the adhesive) is a must to speed up the process. 

Choosing the tapes that are right for your business

As this article explained, each type of tape is suitable for a specific need. As brands are moving more towards more sustainable options, gummed tapes and washi tapes are getting more of the recognition they deserve.

Whichever option you choose, make sure to share them with your customers, along with clear instructions on how to dispose of them so that they can be properly recycled. 

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