What Conditions Cause Tape to Fail

What Conditions Cause Tape to Fail

Ever since tape was invented, thousands of years ago, they have had several applications, and it is impossible to know how certain tasks would be achieved in its absence. Its versatility has made work easier in nearly every industry, with some of the top beneficiaries being the packaging & shipping industry, construction, plumbing, aviation, and the automotive industry, among others. However, sometimes things don’t go as planned with tape. There are certain times when they give in. It is important to understand the reason for tape failure so that you can not only troubleshoot in case of  failure, but you can also know how to stop the tapes from failing in the first place. Read below to find some of the popular conditions that are likely to lead to tape failure.

Lack of Testing – High

Certain tapes, such as high temperature tapes are known to be very versatile, and their effectiveness is never in doubt. However, this is not a guarantee that they will work perfectly at all times. This is why it is highly encouraged that before you commit to using any type of tape, you should take a portion of it and test it against the surface you want to use it on so that you know whether it will hold. This simple test will let you know if the tape is still in good condition and has not expired, and you will also know whether the surface is appropriate to be taped. Most importantly, testing will reveal whether the tape is suited for that surface.


There are different types of tapes designed to be used under varying temperatures. For example, there are high temperature tapes designed to be used under high temperature conditions, and there are also low temperature tapes, ideal for use in low temperature conditions. Finally, there are normal tapes for use under normal room temperatures. Not knowing the temperature tolerance of a tape is a sure way to get poor results from the bonding. Therefore, always ensure that the tape you use is rightly suited to perform under the prevailing temperatures in the environments you will be applying it to.

Exposure to UV light

When tapes are exposed to ultraviolet light for a prolonged period, the UV light will start to disintegrate the chemical components of the tape’s adhesive. With time, the tape will lose its adhesiveness, leading to a weak bond, and finally, total failure. If you are to use tape in a place where it will be exposed to lots of UV light, or where there will be too much exposure to the sun, then it is highly recommended that you use custom tapes that have been specifically designed to withstand the devastating effects of prolonged exposure to UV rays. Ordinary tapes won’t work under such conditions, and it will be just a matter of time before the bond breaks.

Application on Wrong or Dirty Surfaces

The other factor responsible for a great deal of tape failure, is the application of tape on inappropriate or dirty surfaces. To begin with, before the tape is applied, the surface where the bond is desired should be primed and cleaned of any dirt that may interfere with the tape’s ability to form a strong bond. With a dirty surface, the tapes’ adhesive will stick onto the dirt particles on the surface, hence, the tape will not be in direct contact with the surface, leading to the formation of a weak bond. Secondly, tapes are not universal. This simply means that each tape has its own application. Therefore, failure to match the tape with the right surface is a sure way to cause tape failure. For example, you can’t take a fabric tape and use it successfully under wet conditions where waterproof tapes would have yielded the best results.

Chemical Migration

Tape adhesives are made of chemicals, and sometimes failure may arise due to chemical migration in a tape’s adhesive, arising from external factors. For example, you may apply tape to a well-primed surface, but exposure to chemicals such as oils, dye, and acids among others may interfere with the adhesive’s chemical structure, and may weaken it in some sections. Once part of the tape’s application has been compromised, it will just be a matter of time before the rest of the section also becomes weak enough to cause the whole application fail. The best way to avoid this type of failure is to protect the taped area from exposure to chemical elements that are likely to interfere with the adhesive’s chemistry.

Improper Calculation

If you want to get the best results from your tape’s applications, you must get the surface contact to weight ratio right. In other words, the sticky surface of the tape should be large enough to cover the surface of the substrate where you want the bonding to happen. For example, if you want to adhere a poly sheeting to a wall, the double sided duct tape used should be wide and strong enough to withstand the weight of the sheet on the wall. If you use a thin double-sided tape, it may not have the strength to keep the sheet in place for long.

Poor Tape Installation

It is possible to experience tape failure even in instances when the correct tape was used, and the surface was clean. In these cases, the main reason for failure is usually due to poor application or installation. If you have worked with tapes before, then you probably think that it is a matter of roll and go. However, depending on the application, more may be required. In some cases, you may need to exert extra pressure following the application, to force the tape to adhere strongly. Also, there are certain tape types that have liners that must be removed before you can use the tape successfully. If you are ever in doubt about how to use tape for the best results, make it a habit of reading the instructions before applying it.


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