How to Choose the Right Duct Tape for Building & Construction

Duct tape is one of the most popular pressure sensitive adhesives in the market due to its versatility and use for many applications. But how do you choose the right tape for the job?

Before we get into learning how to identify the right roll to grab off the shelf or order a sample of, let’s get some insight into what Duct tape really is.

Duct tape was invented in WW2 and was first called duck tape for its waterproofing properties

Is it Duck, or Duct Tape?

Duct tape was invented during WWII in the 1940’s by a division of Johnson & Johnson.

The US military needed a waterproof tape to keep moisture out of ammunition cases. The early product Johnson & Johnson came up with was called “Duck” tape because it resisted water, similar to how water runs right off a duck’s back.

After the war, the construction industry began using the tape as a handy tool for home construction to seal gaps, make minor repairs, protect surfaces, and patch together ventilation ductwork. It soon became known by a new name: “Duct Tape.” 

Manufacturers even swapped the original Army green color of Duct tape to the silver color we know today to better match the ducts it was being commonly applied to.

The construction industry began using duct tape to patch ventilation ducts

What makes Duct Tape so special?

Duct tape has a cloth backing coated with polyethylene, with a rubber based adhesive. Thanks to this, it has unique waterproofing capabilities and strength, yet it can still be easily torn by hand.

It is suitable for both indoor and short term outdoor use because of it is durability and waterproofing characteristics. Pro Tapes® offers specialty Duct tapes that are suitable for longer term outdoor use as well.

These days, Duct tapes also come in a wide assortment of materials and colors.

How do I choose the right Duct Tape?

Not all Duct tapes are created equally! Some have thicker adhesive and tougher backing.  Duct tape comes in different grades too, which is one of the factors that help determine the right application it should be used for. 

Let’s take a look at some of the factors that can help you decide which Duct Tape to choose:

  • Strength characteristics (Thickness, adhesion, tensile strength)
  • Job environment (Conditions tape will be exposed such as high or low temperatures, dust, moisture, UV light, chemicals, friction)
  • Required bonding duration (will it be used for a short term temporary solution, or as long term permanent solution)
  • Hand tear-ability (and whether that is a requirement)
  • Conformability to uneven surfaces (curved, many corners, etc.)
  • Application surface (wood, metal, plastic, etc)

Are there different kinds of Duct Tape? YES!

Today duct tape comes in many colors, grades and other different properties

Let’s look at 5 different types of Duct Tape manufactured today:

General Purpose Grade

Designed for every day applications such as strapping, bundling at a job site, temporary and permanent repairs. See Pro® Duct 100 and Pro® Duct 110

Premium Grade

Conforms well to irregular surfaces, holds tightly around corners, bends and curves. Suitable for higher demand applications such as patching, bundling, and reinforcing. Some tapes offered in this category comply with UL 723.

See Pro® Duct 120 and Pro® Duct 139. We also offer a special camo-printed duct tape with Pro® Camo Duct, and a transparent duct tape in Pro® 160.

Industrial Grade

Can be used for most general purpose applications, but are made with a stronger adhesive coating and thicker mil. Ideal for more demanding jobs in the commercial and industrial settings.

See Pro® Duct 120 and Pro® 130.  

Heavy Duct Tape

Intended for indoor/outdoor use; excellent for use as a moisture barrier in typical applications such as HVAC, automotive and commercial.  It is able to withstand extreme temperature fluctuations from both cold and hot air pressure. Some may offer additional features such as flame retardancy.

See Pro® 132, Pro® 309, and Pro® 148.

Stucco Duct Tape

Engineered for outdoor use.  It is a solid polyethylene that has no cloth or vinyl impregnation. It provides good adhesion and sticks well to a wide variety of materials and textures such as concrete, wood, vinyl, brick and aluminum.  It offers the UV protection and removes cleanly after the job is done.

See Pro® 924 and Pro® 931.

Still need help choosing the right Duct Tape? The Pro Tapes® team is here for you!

If you’re still unsure which of our Duct tapes is right for the job, contact us today! 

Our experienced inside Sales team would be more than happy to help you learn more about our product offerings. We are committed to helping you identify the right solution for your project.

You can reach out to us any time at

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