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The Best Gaffer Tape (2024)

This is a complete list of gaffer tapes and spike tapes I use and trust for all types of media production.

Pro Tapes Pro Gaff

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The best gaffer tape for a vast majority of users and use cases.

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I'll cut to the chase...

This is the one.

Top pick - it meets the needs for 99% of people and situations.

Value pick - it offers the best quality, consistency, adhesion, tensile strength, assortment, and leaves behind the least amount of residue for the best price.

Budget pick - I have found Pro Gaff to be the best bang for the buck out there. While there are definitely cheaper options, they don't perform nearly as well.

Premium pick - it is just as good, and often better, than the more premium tapes out there. The only things you should pay more for are stronger adhesion, stronger tensile strength, or custom sizes and colors.

Not only does it come in the industry standard 2 inch by 55 yard rolls, it also comes in a wide variety of widths and colors.


Pro Gaff Specifications
Backing Cotton Cloth
Adhesive Synthetic rubber based
Thickness 11 mils
Service Temperature 50°F to 180°F
Tensile Strength 50 pounds per inch
Adhesion to Steel 75 ounces per inch

Pro Gaff Products
Widths 1 inch
2 inches
3 inches
4 inches
Colors Black
White
Gray
Fluorescent Yellow
Fluorescent Orange
Fluorescent Green
Fluorescent Pink
Yellow
Red
Green
Blue
Electric Blue
Teal
Purple
Brown
Burgundy
Olive Drab
Patterns Pro Camo - Desert Tan
Pro Camo - Forest Green
Other Tapes Fluorescent spike tapes
Cable path tapes
Glow in the dark tapes
Pocket Gaff
Barricade ribbon
Vinyl safety stripe tape

Shurtape P- 68

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The best gaffer tape money can buy.

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Oh, I see...

You're an aficionado.

A contrarian.

A connoisseur. 🤌

You don't want the best. You want THE. BEST.

Duly noted.

Well, you see...

There's this stuff called Shurtape P- 691. It is actually referred to as "Nuclear Grade" because of its use in aerospace, military, and (you guessed it) nuclear power plant industries to seal clean rooms and to provide critical waterproofing applications.

But Joel, P- 691 isn't P- 68!

Ahh, I see you're not just a connoisseur. You're an astute observer as well.

That's right! P- 68 is quite literally the next step up above P- 691.

So, while I feel like Marty DiBergi interviewing Nigel "These go to 11" Tufnel right now, this really is the tape that goes to 11.

Just know: it is strong stuff. Use with caution.


Why You Can Trust Me

I started my career over 24 years ago as a freelance ENG camera operator for major U.S. television networks including ABC, FOX Sports, and Speed Channel. Since then, I have worked on countless productions throughout 25 different countries as a filmmaker and director of photography. I've used miles of various tapes. I've seen the good, the bad, and everything in between. I've accidentally ruined paints and finishes. I've even created balls of gaffer tape too heavy to lift! So, yeah, gaff and I have been through some stuff. Additionally, I have spent the last decade running this website and consulting with organizations to help them find the right gear and maximize their results. Learn more about Joel


Gaffer Tape FAQ

What is Gaffer Tape?

Gaffer tape is a high strength, high performance tape with a coated cotton cloth backing and a rubber based adhesive. It is highly conformable, hand-tearable, abrasion resistant, heat resistant (usually up to 180-200ºF), weather resistant, and removes cleanly from most surfaces.

It comes in a variety of colors and widths, but the most common style is a matte black finish in a 2 inch or 48mm width.

It is used in all types of media production including film, television, radio, theater, dance, studios, photography, concerts, corporate events, video, audio, and lighting, as well as trade shows, conventions, and other professional environments.

What is Gaffer Tape Used For?

Common uses for gaffer tape include temporary holding of lighting fixtures and lighting modifiers, wire and cable management or hold down, marking or labeling equipment and cases, and splicing together dance floors. High visibility colors are also commonly used for marking wayfinding, stairs, exits, hazards, or sets.

How Do I Tear Gaffer Tape Properly?

There is a bit of an art to tearing or ripping gaffer tape. If you don't tear it the proper way, you can easily wind up tearing it up the length of the tape or with leftover strings.

Here are step-by-step instructions for two popular methods. However, no matter what method you choose

How To Tear Gaffer Tape (Method 1):

  1. Hold the roll of tape in your non-dominant hand, preferably with the thumb on the outside of the roll and the rest of the fingers through the middle of the core (the cardboard or plastic ring around which the tape is rolled).
  2. Pull out the amount of tape desired with your dominant hand, being careful to keep the tape straight and keeping it from accidentally adhering to itself or other unwanted surfaces.
  3. Place the tip of the thumb from your non-dominant hand firmly on the roll in the location where you want the tear to start. Push down firmly with the tip of the thumb at a 90º perpendicular angle to the surface of the roll, making a sharp edge of contact between the thumb and tape.
  4. With your dominant hand, grip the top (cloth side) of the tape with the thumb and bottom (adhesive side) of the tape with the index finger just before the section of tape makes contact with the unused roll, as close to your non-dominant thumb as possible.
  5. With your dominant hand, pull down laterally across the width of the tape in a swift and confident tearing motion. Do not slow down until the entire section of tape is torn, or you may wind up with a leftover string on the edge of the roll.

How To Tear Gaffer Tape (Method 2):

  1. Hold the roll of tape in your non-dominant hand, preferably with the thumb on the outside of the roll and the rest of the fingers through the middle of the core (the cardboard or plastic ring around which the tape is rolled).
  2. Pull out the amount of tape desired with your dominant hand and do not let go.
  3. While still holding the roll of tape, place the bottom half of the palm on your non-dominant hand along the outside of the roll of tape with the thumb at a 45º angle across the edge of the tape.
  4. Wrap the thumb from your non-dominant hand down the side of the roll slightly while pushing it down firmly where the base of the thumb meets the edge of the roll of tape. You want to create a sharp and distinct pressure point along the edge of the tape where the tear should occur.
  5. With your dominant hand still holding the section of tape, pull down laterally across the width of the tape in a swift and confident tearing motion. Do not slow down until the entire section of tape is torn, or you may wind up with a leftover string on the edge of the roll.

Is Gaffer Tape Duct Tape?

No.

While gaffer tapes and to duct tapes are similar, they are not the same.

In general, gaffer tape should have a lightly coated cotton backing with a matte sheen, be 10 mils or thicker, have a very low elongation (stretch factor) of 5% or less, and have a tensile strength of 40 pounds per inch or more.

In comparison, duct tapes that you see in stores will often have a plastic/vinyl or a heavier-coated cloth backing, will usually have a more glossy or shinier surface, be thinner (9 mils or less), have a much higher elongation (stretch factor), and have less tensile strength. Many duct tapes may also have an adhesive that is intended for permanent use and may leave more residue or cause more damage if removed from a surface.

Does Gaffer Tape Stick to Carpet?

Sometimes.

Gaffer tape can stick well to some carpets, but it's not guaranteed.

It can often fail to adhere well to newer low-pile carpets, carpets that have been treated with stain resistant coatings or anti-static sprays, and medium-pile or high-pile carpets.

Carpets may require a heavy duty gaffer tape with a stronger adhesive.

Does Gaffer Tape Stick to Fabric?

Sometimes.

Gaffer tape can stick well to some fabrics. But just like on carpets, it's not guaranteed.

It can often fail to adhere well to knitted fabrics, blended fabrics, and sheer fabrics with little surface area.

There are usually better tapes to use on fabric, like butyl tape (also called "snot tape"), toupee tape, and moleskine tape, depending on the situation and need.

Can Gaffer Tape Get Wet?

Sometimes.

A lot of light duty and medium duty gaffer tape is somewhat weather resistant, but not completely waterproof.

Once gaffer tape is adhered properly to many surfaces, it can successfully repel water and stay adhered in many cases. But if any gaffer tape gets wet before adhesion, or the surface to which it's adhered has any moisture present, then it usually won't work well.

The heavy duty gaffer tapes like Shurtape P -68 typically fare better in adverse weather and wet environments. And there are even some specialty gaffer tapes that are coated to be slightly more water resistant, like Shurtape P- 665W.

How Long Can Gaffer Tape Last?

Gaffer tape was designed to be a temporary solution. It is not intended to be permanent or even semi-permanent.

The longer the tape is adhered to a surface, the more the adhesive breaks down and loses its consistency and characteristics and the more residue can be left behind once the tape is removed. This can also cause permanent damage to the surface it was on.

And while I've personally encountered gaffer tapes that have been in place for a decade or more throughout my career, removal has never been a fun or simple task.

I recommend only using gaffer tape for 48 hours or less in most situations.

Does Gaffer Tape Leave Residue?

It shouldn't, but it can. Especially the longer it is adhered to a surface and the hotter it gets.

It's always best to a) use a quality gaffer tape like my top pick above and b) test it in a small and inconspicuous area before affixing it elsewhere.

How Do I Remove Gaffer Tape Residue?

If you are met with the unfortunate reality of gaffer tape leaving behind unwanted residue, here are some things you can use to remove it successfully:

Use Goo Gone to Clean Gaffer Tape Residue

Goo Gone is probably the best overall solution to cleaning off adhesive residues. It's literally in the name. It's strong enough to work well without being too harsh on the underlying surface material. It also smells decent.

Use Medical Adhesive Remover to Clean Gaffer Tape Residue

Medical grade adhesive removers like Smith and Nephew Remove are a less harsh and skin-friendly alternative if you only have to remove small areas of residue.

Use 3M Citrus Adhesive Remover to Clean Gaffer Tape Residue

When you need to pull out the big guns, 3M Industrial Grade Adhesive Remover should be in your holster.

Just be aware: it's potent stuff. But the citrus smell at least helps you forget the fact you'll lose some brain cells inhaling it.

Use Natural Oils to Remove Gaffer Tape Residue

If you want to minimize exposure to chemicals and go a more natural route, that's understandable.

However, you will probably need to let these solutions sit longer to have the best success at removing pesky residues.

Vegetable oil, canola oil, peanut butter, mayonnaise, or a mixture of coconut oil and baking soda can work well at removing residues.

Can Gaffer Tape Remove Paint?

Yes.

Fundamentally, gaffer tape is an adhesive. It can remove paints, varnishes, sealants, polishes, waxes, finishes, and clear coats if you are not careful. This is especially true the longer the tape is left adhered to the surface.

Again, I highly recommend a) using a quality gaffer tape like my top pick above and b) test it in a small and inconspicuous area before affixing it elsewhere.

What is Spike Tape?

Spike tape, like Pro Tapes Pro Spike, is essentially just a narrower gaffer tape use for marking locations. It is typically made of the same material and adhesive as standard gaffer tape, is available in 1/2-inch widths, and comes in many standard and fluorescent colors.

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