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. 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 items 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 what you'll ship.
This article will cover some basics of what you need to know about packing tapes, the different types available, and their pros and cons to help you find the right choice for your business.
What are packing tapes used for?
Packing tapes are adhesive materials often used to seal boxes and to keep everything secure and the packages themselves from breaking open. They're perfect for taping down the package content such as delicate items, such as glassware or china, before shipping them.
They protect against damage from rough handling, and they also prevent moisture from getting inside the box. Sometimes, they are placed between boxes when items need to be shipped together. The tapes also provide security for valuable products, such as jewelry.
What are the different types of packaging tape?
There is a wide range of 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 tape:
Clear Packing Tape
Cold Packing Tape
As the name implies, this tape is great for colder temperatures wherein regular packing tapes would have inadequate performance. It's ideal for sending food items like seafood, produce, ice cream, and meat production plants.
The cold packing tape’s very low adhesive temperature range is best used when shipping in areas with extremely low temperatures. Ideal for maintaining high-quality products by protecting against contamination and tampering. Really useful when boxes go through freezers or cold storage.
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. Water-activated tapes are in fact stronger than clear packing tapes.
Unlike pressure-sensitive tapes, you only need one strip of tape when using water-activated tapes for a reliable seal. These tapes are widely used by businesses of all sizes, from small shops to e-commerce giants such as Amazon. The perfect tape for companies shipping delicate items, minimizing the use of protective packaging.
Gummed paper tape is a great choice for eCommerce packages because it is easy to use and binds with the package once it is applied. It can be used on most types of corrugated and paper surfaces, including cardboard, corrugated carton boxes, paper wrap, etc.
Washi Tapes are a popular decorative tape that originated in Japan. These tapes are used to decorate the interior of notebooks and books or to tape wrapping paper. They are usually narrower than regular packing tape rolls because of that.
They can be found in many different colors, patterns, and creative designs. There are washi tapes that have a special finish on them, while other types are plain white or glossy.These tapes are often made from rice papers, meaning they decompose easily in the soil and return to nature with no harm.
It's best for wrapping gifts or decorating items, not for heavy-duty sealing or for a reliable seal. Washi tape can be used to close Kraft mailer envelopes or decorate packages.
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 weight cartons, but its poor adhesive means it won't hold up to medium-weight cartons to heavy-weight cartons. Ideal for taping wrappers or fragile items that would otherwise rip if using more heavy-duty tapes.
Like clear packaging tape, this is widely and readily available. Most small shops use it for labeling and identifying small items without damaging them with sticky residues. Masking tapes are perfect for marking things in offices and warehouses. It leaves no marks, so there won't be any damage to anything.
Tamper evidence tape looks like regular tape but it reveals a second layer that “imprints” a message on the box. With prints like “void”, “opened” or "return if tape seal is broken". A tamper-evident tape reveals whether the package has been opened or not. The message is customizable making it ideal for sending high-value items and sensitive content.
It’s often used for shipping healthcare or beauty products to avoid contamination. It can also be useful for shipping valuable items such as electronics and/or jewelry. Tamper-evident tapes let you know if someone has tampered with something. They typically come with markings indicating whether tampering has occurred.
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?
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.
Check out these beautifully designed packaging tapes from our shop!
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 custom designs will help a generic brown packaging to stand out from afar.
When selecting tapes, consider their tensile strength. Consider the weights of the contents, packaging sizes, and the kind of environments where they will be used. Some tapes are made for light weight cartons, while others are intended for heavier-weight applications.
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.
Additionally, using custom packing tape with creative designs over your typical ordinary tape is the best way to a truly custom package.
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. These tapes are ideal for heavy-weight cartons over 30lbs.
Strong seals generated by reinforced tapes are not needed since e-commerce packages are usually under 30lbs. Deferring to the non-reinforced tapes which are more than enough to secure the shipping boxes with a reliable seal.
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 known for its shear strength, claiming to hold heavy items 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?
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 (ca. 5 cm). 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 manual 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. Or, you can get an electric tape dispenser if you can afford it. Might cost extra, but it sure beats using a hand-held tape gun.
Choosing the tapes that are right for your business
As this article explained, each type of tape is suitable for a specific need. Brands are moving more towards more sustainable packaging solutions. Gummed tapes and beautifully designed 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.