Thursday, January 26, 2017

Masking Tape – The Core Basics

Masking Tape: Adhesive, Backing, Release CoatWe have all experienced masking tape problems at some point, whether a weekend project at home or out on the job site. Having experienced issues in the past, we’ve learned that it all comes down to buying the right tape for the job. Easy, right?  Not exactly! I work in the tape industry and I still get confused walking through the tape section of a big box store. I can’t imagine how overwhelming it must be for a DIYer or contractor searching through an entire aisle of different brands, colors, sizes, prices, etc…where to begin?!

Understanding Painter’s Masking Tape

“Masking Tape” (a term most often used categorizing paper tapes) comes from the act of protecting or masking an area prior to the application of painting, coating or surface treatment. But are all masking tapes created equal? Let’s take a closer look.

The composition of masking tape at its most fundamental level is made up of three layers: backing, adhesive and release coat. (See illustration, top of page.) The backing is generally made from a saturated crepe paper. Crepe paper is known for its ability to stretch, allowing the tape to bend and conform around curves. Saturation helps enhance the paper’s physical properties and can also add color if preferred. The paper can be smooth crepe or coarse crepe—smooth crepe is used on high performance products, leaving a clean paint line and no bleed-through. Coarse crepe has a rough finish and is commonly used in general purpose applications where a clean line is not necessarily required.

The two types of adhesives used are acrylic and rubber (or synthetic rubber).  Acrylic adhesives can be water-based or solvent-based and use synthesized polymers to formulate an adhesive structure that is applied to the tape. Acrylics have medium initial adhesion, temperature resistance, solvent resistance, UV resistance and durability.  Rubber adhesives can consist of natural or synthetic rubber. Natural rubber adhesives have a medium to high tack and are used for general purpose applications. Synthetic rubber adhesives are formed by mixing synthetic compounds with rubber.  These are medium tack and intended for indoor and outdoor painting applications. Rubber and synthetic rubber adhesives have medium-high initial adhesion, temperature resistance, UV resistance, and durability.

The release coat controls the tape’s unwind values, its adhesion to backing values and adhesive consistencies. In other words—the release coat allows the tape to come off the roll easily and not stick to itself.  There you have it, lesson one in the books! Learning what masking tape is and how it’s made is key to understanding how it works and why it works (or doesn’t work—we will cover this later). In Part II we will learn about applications—what to use, why to use and how to use—and break down acrylic and rubber masking tapes further, discussing chemical additives that can give the tape new properties and

Written by Brandon Paas, Consumer Marketing Manager, IPG

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