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Best Duct Tape

Updated June 2023
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Best of the Best
Gorilla Black Duct Tape
Black Duct Tape
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Super-strong Hold
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This heavy-duty duct tape is weather-resistant, strong, and reliable.


Strong hold due to double thick adhesive surface. Shell is weather and UV-resistant. Wide 2.88 inch tape roll. Suitable for adhesion to indoor or outdoor surfaces including wood, metal, plastic, brick, and stucco. Humidity-resistant.


May not perform as well in high-heat situations.

Best Bang for the Buck
Duck The Original Brand Duct Tape
The Original Brand Duct Tape
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Trusted Brand
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This tried and true duct tape gets the job done at a price that won’t break the bank.


Adheres to a multitude of surfaces including vinyl, plastic, wood, metal, and leather. Tears easily by hand. Waterproof backing makes this tape suitable for indoor or outdoor use. Easily mend holes and tears, or bundle items together.


May not stick well to certain materials, such as cardboard.

3M Multi-Use Colored Duct Tape
Multi-Use Colored Duct Tape
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Most Versatile
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A strong tape for a variety of uses available in 8 different colors.


Effectively bundles, patches, and reinforces objects. Easy to tear both vertically and horizontally. Smooth surface looks clean when applied. Intended for temporary repairs and indoor use. Choose a tape color to complement your project.


This tape is thinner than some other brands of duct tape.

Scotch Duct Tape
Duct Tape
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Easiest to Use
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This duct tape is easy to tear and strongly adheres to many surfaces.


Black color allows for repairs to be more discreet in some cases, although the surface does have a shine to it. Ideal for crafting and temporary repairs. Suitable for use indoors. Lightweight but strong holding tape.


Not suitable for high heat or wet conditions.

WELSTIK Professional Grade Duct Tape
Professional Grade Duct Tape
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This super-durable duct tape is intended for professional use, and is available in 10 colors.


Industrial grade and durable tape. Waterproof, flame-retardant, and suitable for high heat conditions. Available in a wide variety of colors and sizes. Withstands humid conditions and is suitable for indoor and outdoor use.


This tape has a strong hold, but may not be ideal for adhesion to all surfaces.

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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. About BestReviews  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.About BestReviews 

We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.

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Best duct tape

Duct tape is an amazing material. This sticky, stretchy tape has saved lunar missions and kept armies on the move. It patches up vinyl punching bags and holds plastic lids shut. It’s an indispensable product with an amazing history and a never-ending list of uses.

Walk into a home improvement store, and you’ll find many different types of duct tape for sale by competing manufacturers. That can make you wonder: If duct tape is so widely used, why are there so many varieties? There are good reasons for all the specialization, and knowing some of the most common variations of duct tape will help you choose the best product for the project you have in mind.

AC ducts
Duct tape is not rated for use on air conditioning ducts, even to patch gaps or holes. Contact an HVAC specialist or supplier for an approved product.

What you need to know about duct tape

How duct tape is made

Duct tape consists of three layers: 

  • Polyethylene: The top layer is water-resistant polyethylene. This material can take on colors, patterned prints, or just remain clear.
  • Cotton fabric: The middle layer is a loose weave cotton fabric that adds tensile strength to the tape. It’s thin enough that the tape can still be torn by hand.
  • Adhesive glue: The bottom layer is either a polymer-based glue or a rubber glue. 

Who invented duct tape?

During World War II, Vesta Stoudt, who worked at a factory making ammunition, came up with the idea for a better tape that would securely seal ammunition boxes and be easy to remove. Ammunition boxes were hard to open in the field because they were sealed with paper tape and dipped in wax to prevent water from getting inside.

Stoudt tried to convince her managers and government inspectors that the tape was a better solution, but she was ignored. Undeterred, she wrote a letter to President Roosevelt with diagrams. And, after a word from him, the War Production Board quickly approved the development of the new tape. 

Because manufacturers were cooperating with each other to boost production during the war, Johnson & Johnson was given the task of creating a strong, water-resistant cloth tape. But Stoudt got the credit for its invention due to her persistence.

Why tensile strength matters

The middle layer of duct tape is cotton fabric, which makes the tape stretchy and adds lots of strength. Without this layer, duct tape would just be a fancier, fragile version of masking tape. 

The higher the thread count of the cotton fabric, the stronger the duct tape. Thread count is the biggest difference between duct tape that is best used for patching surfaces and duct tape that can hold a car bumper in place while you drive to the auto body shop.

The sticky facts about duct tape adhesive

General-purpose duct tape uses polymer-based glue. This type of glue adheres to a surface evenly and doesn’t cure or become stickier, so it’s easy to remove with little residue left behind. 

Certain types of duct tape that are developed for use in more extreme conditions or need to hold more securely use rubber-based glue. It’s stickier and adheres much more strongly, but it is harder to remove and leaves behind more residue.

Cleaning up that adhesive residue can be a chore, even with products available to help loosen it. So check the label so you know what type of adhesive you’re dealing with: polymer or rubber.

How not to use duct tape

Avoid porous surfaces: Porous surfaces can be problematic for duct tape, so avoid using it on brick or concrete. 

Cleanliness matters: Surfaces with a lot of dirt, dust, or small debris will defeat duct tape. 

Forget cardboard: Anyone who’s watched with frustration as duct tape peels away from a cardboard box knows it’s not the best tape for moving day. (Stick with packing tape). The surface of cardboard has tiny fibers that prevent duct tape from sticking properly.

Duct tape uses when camping
Staff Tip
Don’t go camping without it: Duct tape can be used in first aid, to patch a leaky tent, to bundle items together, and so much more.

Duct tape’s best features

Easy tearing

Duct tape is sturdy, but a single-layer strip can easily be torn horizontally or vertically, so you can customize the tape on the fly.

Secure but not permanent

The glue on the underside of duct tape is designed to attach securely to most objects. However, it doesn’t cure or harden like epoxy-based adhesives, so multi-use or general-purpose duct tape can be removed easily.


Duct tape is designed to adhere and support in the harshest environments. Water is an enemy of most adhesives, so duct tape’s adhesive and top layer work together to repel moisture and maintain adherence for as long as possible.

Multiple colors and designs

Duct tape is available in many colors and designs. Safety-striped duct tape is easy to find, and there are even glow-in-the-dark versions available.

During World War II and for decades after, soldiers called duct tape “100-mile-an-hour tape” because it could be applied fast and hold up under the worst conditions.



Tape dispenser

Handheld tape dispensers sized for packing tape or duct tape keep the tape aligned as it’s applied and make cutting easier with a serrated blade.

Adhesive remover

Quickly get rid of glue residue left behind after peeling away duct tape from an object or wall, by applying an adhesive remover.

Utility knife

For precision cuts, such as splicing duct tape lengthwise, a sharp utility knife does the job quickly.

How much does duct tape cost?


Multi-use or general-purpose duct tape retails between $3 and $4 per roll.


Look for longer rolls of duct tape, multipacks, and the widest range of colors at the $5 to $7 price point.


Specialized duct tape, including rubber-based glue and specialty patterns, costs between $8 and $11 per roll.

Duct tape residue
Staff Tip
Duct tape residue on your skin? Smooth olive oil over the residue, let it soak for a few minutes and gently wipe with a clean cloth.


  • Pick the right type. Choose a duct tape that is designed to adhere to the surface you’ll be using it on. General-purpose tape will peel off of some surfaces, like brick.
  • Mark it. Use duct tape to mark sections of the floor or wall.
  • Close it off. Duct tape will hold up temporary curtains during home remodeling and painting.
  • Time matters. The glue layer of duct tape starts to break down about 12 months after applying it to a surface — sooner in a hot or damp climate.
  • Know the limits of the tape. Don’t use duct tape to seal a leaky fuel line. Gasoline quickly dissolves the adhesive.
  • Prep first. Make sure the surface you’re taping is clean and completely dry before applying duct tape.
  • Find new uses everywhere. Entire books have been written about the uses for duct tape, from useful repairs to arts and crafts. Check out Pinterest and YouTube for new, fun ideas.
Duct tape short-term fix
Duct tape is great for short-term fixes, but it’s not a permanent solution. Get the item, vehicle, or body part to a professional as soon as possible for a proper repair.


Q. Is it called “duct tape” or “duck tape?”

A. Officially, this type of tape is “duct” tape, but people use the term “duck” tape interchangeably. And there’s an interesting reason why. Duck tape is an ancestor of the duct tape we know today. The original duck tape was a strip of non-adhesive cotton used to support and strengthen everyday objects, from shoes to the steel cables of the Manhattan Bridge. (“Duck” described the type of cotton weave used.) 

Today, there is a brand of duct tape called “Duck Tape” which features a yellow duck on the label. The confusion is understandable, but knowing why can be a big help … and maybe help you win a bet.

Q. Can duct tape be used in place of electrical tape?

A. It’s not recommended. Electrical tape is safer because it’s nonconductive and insulating. It also is easier to remove than duct tape when making a final repair. If you’re absolutely in a pinch and cannot access electrical tape for some reason – like, you’re deep in the Amazon jungle and the ignition wire on your outboard motor jiggles loose and piranhas are hovering below and you’ve just run out of electrical tape – okay, use duct tape. But be aware of its risks and limitations. 

Q. Why can’t duct tape be used on air conditioning ducts? That seems counterintuitive.

A. After World War II, silver duct tape was manufactured and marketed as the perfect product to securely connect air ducts. Turns out, for the one use it’s advertised for, it was far from perfect. While duct tape is durable, affordable, and easy to use, its adhesive breaks down over time, especially when constantly exposed to high heat. Since 1990, the use of general-purpose duct tape in HVAC work has been prohibited. HVAC professionals use a different grade of adhesive tape these days, and different methods to safely install and repair ductwork.

Q. Are there other names for duct tape?

A. Besides “duck” tape, you may hear it called “100-mile-an-hour tape” by military veterans or “200-mile-an-hour tape” by race car drivers and mechanics. You may also hear it called “rigger’s tape,” “hurricane tape,” or “gaffer’s tape.”