Adhesive masking tape also called sticky tape is a special king of pressure sensitive adhesive tape made using a thin easy to rear paper. The tape is also easy to release. Adhesive masking tape is sold in a variety of colors and sizes. The tape is commonly used in painting applications to cover areas which shouldn’t be painted. The tapes’ adhesive is its most useful element i.e. it allows the masking tape to be removed easily without leaving any residue or causing any damage to the surface where it is applied.
Adhesive masking tape is available in a variety of strengths based on a scale ranging from 1 to 100. Higher numbers indicate higher strength. On normal circumstances, painting operations require an adhesive masking tape with average strength i.e. 50. Household adhesive masking tape for typical household applications is made using weaker tape strength i.e. less than 30. The adhesive used is also low grade.
Adhesive masking tape/s date back to 1925. The tape was invented by Richard Drew after witnessing the frustration of auto-body workers as they used butcher paper to cover the cars they were painting. Drew witnessed the ineffectiveness of butcher paper in auto-body application which made him search for a suitable alternative. Butcher paper adhesive being used at the time was very strong which caused a lot of damage when it was being peeled off. Drew saw the need for a better adhesive which marked the birth of adhesive masking tape.
Adhesive tape is usually rated according to strength as mentioned above. It is however important to note that the tape can also be rated according to the number of days it stays without leaving any kind of residue on masked surfaces. The most common adhesive masking tape ratings are 7 and 14 days. It is however possible to find a tapes with a rating ranging from 1 to 60 days.
Typically, longer rated tapes have less adhesive. They are usually sold to be used on delicate or smooth surfaces i.e. vinyl wallpaper or recently painted walls. It is important to note that adhesive tapes should be removed after use regardless of their rating. This avoids surface damage caused by prolonged use of the tape.
The original use of adhesive masking tape as discussed above was covering off auto parts which didn’t require painting. To date, this continues to be the most common use of adhesive masking tape. The tape ensures painters do very clean painting jobs. Without the tape, auto painters among other painters wouldn’t be able to stop paint bleeds common under tape edges resulting in varied or fuzzy paint lines. Apart from auto applications, the tape is also used to hold blueprints firmly to drawing boards or light tables. The tape can also be used in glass pane applications to prevent glass shattering or harming anyone in the vicinity.
Adhesive masking tape can be used for rigorous applications in the construction of plastic films instead of using paper. Tapes which are made using polyester can be used for masking odd plating and etching in powder coating applications.
Tapes made using polyimide can be used to prevent molten solder damage in electronic applications. Tapes based on glass cloth can be used in sandblasting and powder coating applications. Vinyl and foil tapes can be used in plating applications. Layered adhesive masking tapes made using multiple materials can be used for serious applications i.e. masking thermal and flame sprays. Nowadays, adhesive masking tapes are used for decorative applications. Such tapes come in a variety of colors and patterns. Decorative masking tapes are very common in countries like Japan.
The type of adhesive used in a tape is a critical determining factor in any masking situation. There are 3 main types of adhesives used namely; silicone based, acrylic based and rubber based adhesives. It is important to note that each adhesive has many chemical variations. Rubber based adhesives are the best in terms of providing adhesion. They however have the lowest temperature resistance. Silicone based adhesives on the other hand offer high temperature resistance (260°C) but are poor on adhesion. Lastly, acrylic-based adhesives have the best temperature range. They provide adhesion in extreme temperatures i.e. sub-freezing temperatures to 325° Fahrenheit.