Understanding The Fundamentals Behind Adhesive Tapes

Understanding The Fundamentals Behind Adhesive Tapes

Adhesive tape, which also goes by many names like sticky tape, PSA tape, and pressure-sensitive tape, comprises a pressure-sensitive adhesive coating applied onto various types of backing material. The common ones are plastic films, paper, cloth or metal foil. They serve as an excellent substitute for fasteners, screws, or welding when joining objects together. Using adhesive tape in place of fasteners offers greater flexibility in low-temperature applications, which helps simplify specific manufacturing processes. Moreover, adhesive tape protects the objects’ surface areas since there is no need to damage them with screws or fasteners. All in all, they provide a better solution compared to liquid adhesives, which tend to involve a messy and time-consuming application process. Let us discuss the fundamentals behind adhesive tapes and all you need to know about them.

What makes adhesive tape stick?

The adhesives used on pressure-sensitive tapes all share the same properties - tacky, strong adherence, and stress-resistant - but they are different in some ways. Moreover, they all come with their pros and cons, as detailed in the short breakdowns of each below.


The oldest type of adhesive on this list is natural rubber, but it requires resin to gain its adhesive properties. Rubber/resin adhesives provide many advantages for many types of jobs such as lower cost and excellent adhesion.

However, it has its fair share of shortcomings, primarily oxidation from the air. In short, they tend to break down when exposed to UV light from the sun and other light sources.

Synthetic rubber

This adhesive can be used instead of natural rubber, offering far greater shear resistance and adhesive strength. Because of these advantages, they are best suited for sealing cartons and similar packages.


Acrylic-based adhesives and the chemistry involved in making them possess a single component that overcomes most of the rubber/resin adhesives cons. Specifically, they remain stable even when exposed to UV light or oxidation. However, this stability comes at a cost, and they generally cost twice more than rubber/resin adhesives.

Lastly, they do not perform well when used on hard-to-adhere surfaces and need a substantial amount of time to cure.


One of the greatest advantages of silicone-based adhesives is their long service life. And just like acrylics, silicone adhesives can stick to human skin, making them useful in many medical applications. In addition, their excellent flexibility and high-temperature tolerances make them essential in certain use cases in the electrical industry where extreme temperatures pose a challenge, such as in jet engines. These benefits come at an even greater cost, making silicone-based adhesives more expensive than acrylic-based ones.

The advantages of adhesive tape over glue

The right type of adhesive tape can go much further than glue or a bucket of screws, all at a lower cost. Their versatility generally makes them a great and practical substitute for traditional fasteners. But overall, the most compelling reason for using tape over glue is that it creates less mess while getting the job done quicker.

Adhesive tape comes in various widths to suit different projects and comes rated to support pounds per square inch. Moreover, a combination of bonding properties and numerous thicknesses provides adhesion strength fit for construction applications filled with unique challenges of unlike surfaces. This is complemented by their weather and UV-resistant properties that ensure they adhere to “difficult to stick to” surfaces like wood, glass, and plastic.

How to choose the suitable tape

When deliberating on which kind of tape to use for a particular application, it is natural to ask questions about its longevity and if it truly is the right one for the job. Nearly everyone has a tape failure story. However, the adhesive tapes of today are no longer the same as those from years ago. The technology used to make them and the features they now come with have become more sophisticated and versatile, producing better tapes than ever. On a job site filled with all kinds of tools and equipment, nothing competes with the portability, versatility, and ease of use of tape.

The conditions that cause tapes to fail

On paper, one would think that a specific tape and its properties are the right ones for the job, only to find out it has poor adhesion once applied. When this happens, most would turn the blame onto the tape. However, it is essential to note that it is not always the tape’s fault. External factors like the surrounding conditions and possibly even the surface may cause failure. In any case, several variables could affect a tape’s performance, and they are as follows:


Temperature plays a critical role in a tape’s performance. For starters, it is essential to determine if both the tape and the surface being adhered to is at least 18ºC since the former’s tackiness is extremely temperature-dependent. For most tapes, the lower the temperature, the worse the bond will be. Thus, it is imperative to remember to match your tape to the conditions they shall be used in, as mentioned previously.

Besides temperature, also pay attention to the surface. If it contains even the slightest trace of particulates like dust and dirt or liquids, such as moisture or grease, they will contaminate the adhesive surface and prevent a good bond from forming.


The chemistry between the tape and surface area is another factor to consider when there is a weak bond. Materials like plastic, coatings like paint, waxed surfaces, polyethene, and more may naturally have low adhesion and release qualities that prevent a good bond from forming. In this case, extremely tacky tapes or tapes that use rubber/resin adhesives may help. Still, the better option would be to find the adhesive tape specifically designed to stick to your specific surface.

Alternatively, you could alter the character of the surface first before switching tapes. Some ways to achieve this would be roughening it with abrasive materials or applying a prime coat compatible with your tape and the surface.


Typical adhesive tapes come with a thin, smooth, and flat layer of adhesive lining. For best results, the surface of the contact area should ideally be uniform to ensure a solid attachment. If it is rough and full of “hills and valleys” like those in concrete bars, the tape cannot make full contact with the surface, resulting in a weak bond. For these kinds of surfaces, a tape with a much thicker adhesive or another kind of tape, like foam tape, may be preferable to close these small gaps.


All in all, pressure-sensitive adhesive tapes are an industrialist’s most reliable tool for many applications, provided they are suited for a particular task. Capable of conveniently solving many different fastening jobs, this universal tool comes in a wide variety of sizes, thicknesses, feature sets, and backings, each suitable for unique use-cases. The performance and benefits they provide are the reasons why they are increasingly gaining popularity in high-performance buildings and construction, taking the place of conventional alternatives like sealants, glues, and nails.

Here at Heleflo Products, we provide a wide range of pressure-sensitive adhesive tapes designed for general purposes and specific use-cases. As the leading adhesive tapes supplier in Singapore, we also provide numerous other kinds of tapes used across all industries, such as eco-friendly paper tapes to reinforced paper gummed tape in Singapore. For more information on procuring some of our eco-friendly tapes, contact us at marketing@heleflo.com.sg.