Gaffer tape got its name from a film crew chief lighting technician who is known as a gaffer. Basically, this tape was purposely made for use in film, TV
and theater applications but has, over the years, become a household item. Before gaffer tape was invented, people in these industries used duct tape. But it had a downside. First, duct tape is best suited for permanent repairs rather than temporary fixing, as it leaves residue after removal.
In the film industry, gaffer tape is used to label control boards, mark locations, secure cables
, repair sandbags and prepare lighting gels. That’s not all; it’s also used in marking positions during acting rehearsals, attaching microphones
and fixing broken equipment handles. Outside the theater and film industries, gaffer tape can be used pretty much anywhere. It’s a perfect replacement for duct tape, masking tape, carton-sealing tape, etc.
In this post, we’ll take you through what makes gaffer tape unique, its different applications and what to consider when shopping for one. We will also reveal our picks for the five best gaffer tapes on the market.
The price of a roll of gaffer tape ranges from $10 to $20 depending on the quality and the length. We also came across gaffer tape that cost hundreds of bucks and cheap gaffer tape, which we’ve not featured in this review since the quality may be lacking. The major determinants of price include the brand, material and unique features. There has also been emergence of various grades of gaffer tape targeting different industries. You’ll find models that are purposely for the film industry and lower grades for home applications.
Because of the different properties of gaffer tape, you’ll need to keep your intended applications in mind and choose the one that is best suited for such use.
Here is a list of critical features to check before making a purchase:
- Non-reflective Feature
- Weather Resistant
- Abrasion Resistant
Let’s go deeper and see how these features affect the construction and performance of gaffer tape.
Construction and Design
To get a clear picture of gaffer tape construction, let’s see the similarities and differences between it and duct tape. First, duct tape is best for permanent repairs since it uses either semi-permanent or permanent adhesive. On the other hand, gaffer tape uses removable adhesive, making it great for temporary fixes. Secondly, after removal, duct tape leaves traces of adhesive on the surface, unlike gaffer tape, which leaves a completely clean surface after removal.
Another big advantage of gaffer tape is the ease of tearing apart into several strips without using scissors unlike duct tape, which can be hard. Most duct tape is weather resistant and waterproof; however, it’s not heat resistant. Duct tape is also waterproof, weather resistant and abrasion resistant and can withstand high temperatures found in theatres; it is best in covering cables
Something else that distinguishes gaffer tape from other types of tape is that it’s available in colors that don’t reflect light when used in the background. This feature of blending nicely makes it the best for the film industry. However, not all gaffer tape comes in non-reflective materials and colors; there are others available in highly visible fluorescent colors, while others glow with the glowing ability diminishing over time. Others are available in highly visible colors and are writable, making them the best for marking and labeling.
When it comes to materials, most gaffer tape is made using fabric or vinyl, with the adhesive made of rubber, explaining its strong adhesive power. The best thing about rubber is that it can take a lot of heat and doesn’t cause damage to the material. This also makes it ideal for both indoor and outdoor applications.
Performance and Ease of Use
To assess the performance of a gaffer tape, check the three features that make gaffer distinct from other types of tape: ease of splitting, leaves no residue, and non-reflective finish. We also advise you to have your intended application in mind. For instance, if you want one for labeling and marking, go for one in bright colors and which is writable on the top surface. For serious applications, like theatre application, ensure it is made of vinyl-coated cloth, is non-reflective and abrasion resistant and, of course, residue free. Performance also depends on the thickness of the gaffer tape.
There are several reasons why people forego all other types of tape, including duct tape, to pick a gaffer tape. And that is the best basis to judge the best gaffer tape from. First, gaffer tape is preferred for its powerful adhesion feature. Secondly, apart from holding securely to different surfaces, it releases easily without leaving residue or causing damage. And finally, the best gaffer tape should be non-reflective, weather resistant, and abrasion resistant. To help you strike a balance between all these factors and pick the best gaffer tape, we've identified the leading gaffer tape brands. And to give you a good picture of these brands, we have featured a unit from each. Read on and pick one that impresses you.
In 2012, Marty Gage, a seasoned filmmaker, decided to fill a market gap he had always noticed; to design and manufacture a special tape, better than what was on the market. And that’s how Gaffer Power Company was started. In a record of 3 years, the company has created one of the world’s most popular gaffer tapes - Gaffer Power Heavy Duty Gaffer Tape.
If you’re looking for a professional-grade gaffer tape, better than a duct tape, Gaffer Power Heavy Duty Gaffer Tape is one of our recommendations. The tape is made for endless uses, at homes, in schools, workshops, theaters, anywhere! You can use it to secure your computer, cables, boxes, car repairs, and when fixing appliances.
Adding to its ease-of-use is the fact that the tape tears and rips easily. When you need several strips, you don't need scissors. Just use your bare hands to rip it into whatever number of strips you want. Apart from that, it’s water-resistant so you can even use it in the outdoors, for example, to show workshop directions. It is non-reflective, making it ideal for studios and theaters, and no one can notice it.
What makes this gaffer tape a great deal is being tough and strong, without being hard to use. The pressure-sensitive tape is made from cotton cloth and delivers an impressive adhesive. You’ll also love how easy it is to take off without leaving residue. If the stellar reviews, bestseller status, and the ratings of this gaffer tape are anything to base an argument on, then this tape is a “king” in the gaffer tape arena.
In this review, we have featured the black version. But if you want a brighter color, there are nine other colors to choose from.
XFasten believes adhesives are one of the most critical essentials in homes and in different working stations. This is evident in the brand's collections of adhesives for use in homes, for home improvements, and for industrial and scientific applications. The brand holds that adhesives make homes and workplaces safer and come through during times you can’t count on anything else.
XFasten Professional Grade Gaffer Tape is unlike any other tape on the market. The cotton cloth-made tape, with rubber adhesive, delivers unmatched performance on anything the tape is applied to. On top of that, the tape is abrasion-resistant and water-resistant. This allows you to use it outdoors.
The non-reflective and residue-free properties of the tape explain its wide usage and high preference in theaters, TV studios, photography studios, and automotive industries. When used in theaters, it is not noticeable, as it blends easily with different backgrounds. Another win is its great adhesion power, without needing to be removed or ripped apart. It removes easily without leaving residue or causing damage, meaning no mess to clean after taking it off.
While it is great for use on video and audio equipment and by professional artists, it has been used on some models to tape their breasts during photo shoots! We're serious. However, this is not one of the intended uses.
The tape we have featured here is the black version. But if you’d like a different color, white is available.
Allstar Performance is a reputable manufacturer of high performance and racing auto parts, specialty tools, and accessories. The brand has 18 products lines, among them engine cooling accessories, aluminum tanks, engine accessories, tire and wheel accessories, and others.
If you’re looking for a gaffer tape that is best suited for motorists, then Allstar Performance Gaffer’s Tape is our recommendation. It is vinyl-coated and stronger than normal racer tapes. The tape is highly recommended in different settings including pit stops, photography, stage sets, theaters, and by motorists. You can also use it at home to do repairs, to add a firm grip on tools, and when suspending light strings.
When using the tape, you won't struggle with adhesion residue or damage. It is usable on a variety of surfaces, delivering impressive adhesion. Allstar Performance Gaffer’s Tape resists abrasion, which adds to its usefulness. Using it is pretty easy, as well as taking it off. You don't need scissors to rip it into several strips.
Another impressive feature of this tape is that it doesn't cause reflection and glare. This makes it ideal for use in studios and theaters. On top of that, it’s easy to write on, making great for labeling tasks and showing markings on audio and video gears. The Allstar Performance Gaffer’s Tape we have featured in this review is white, with a size of 4” x 165’. However, if you’re looking for a different size or color, they are available.
Pro Tapes and Specialties just celebrated 40 years of success in the adhesive arena. Founded in the late 1970s, Pro Tapes is now the largest manufacturer of premium tapes for use in arts and entertainment industries in the US. Apart from innovating and manufacturing adhesive, the brand also offers other services such as wide web slitting, narrow web slitting, lathe slitting, flexo printing, among others.
Pro Tapes Pro Gaff Premium Gaffers Tape is an 11 millimeter-thick tape made for endless applications. The fluorescent tape is made of cloth and has a matte finish, meaning it is non-reflective and doesn’t cause glare. One of the greatest features of this tape is that it is great on irregular surfaces, unlike most other gaffer tapes. It is also strong to withstand outdoor conditions, even in places with temperatures ranging from 50-200 degrees F.
It is made for numerous applications including labeling, sealing, and temporary securing of surfaces. It works well on numerous surfaces, delivering impeccable adhesion, without leaving dirt when removed. Despite being hard to break, it tears easily into regular splits, even when using bare hands.
If you are looking for a strong, professional-grade gaffer tape, which is weather-resistant and great for irregular surfaces, we recommend Pro Tapes Pro Gaff Premium Gaffers Tape. Some of its applications include dance floor marking, decoration, seat repair, splicing, color-coding and labeling, camera tape, and holding down wires, among others.
In this review, we featured the fluorescent yellow color version with a 1-inch width, if you’d prefer a different color, there are seventeen other color options for you.
J.V. Converting Company is all about adhesive tapes. With 15 years of experience, the company manufacturers a wide collection of tapes including glow-in-the-dark, strapping, paper tapes, foil tapes, among others.
J.V. Converting Premium Grade 30-Yard Gaffers Tape is made of a vinyl-coated cloth and has a strong natural rubber adhesion. It is made to deliver impressive adhesion to a variety of surfaces, without leaving residue after removal. This premium-grade gaffer tape has wide applications such as TV, A/V, motion pictures, and photography.
The greatest deal in this tape is not just performance; it is also in its price. If you are looking for an inexpensive gaffer tape that will deliver just as much as the pricey tapes would do, this is one of our recommendations. It is 12 mm-thick and 30 yards long.
The tape has a matte finish, so it non-reflective making it great for use in studios and theaters. Adding to its durability and strength is the fabric backing. Currently, the product enjoys impressive ratings and reviews, and if this is enough evidence to judge this tape from, then this should be a best-kept handyman secret!
We hope you are now armed and ready to pick the best gaffer tape. The gaffer tape brands we have featured in this review are reputable and known for quality offerings. Shop confidently!