Difference Between Gaffer Tape and Duct Tape

Gaffer tape and duct tape are two of the most popular tools we use in our houses, workplaces, and craft shops.


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These are frequently required when we need to connect items such as wires, cables, or anything that has been broken down and must be repaired.

There are instances when using one over the other is the superior option. 

Gaffer Tape vs Duct Tape

The difference between gaffer tape and duct tape is that gaffer tape may be easily removed. This is because gaffer tape uses petrol-based artificial adhesion rather than natural rubber glue. Whereas duct tape does not remove cleanly, and occasionally a certain type of duct tape is specifically produced to become like gaffer tape in order to be pulled nicely.

Gaffer Tape vs Duct Tape

Gaffer tape, commonly referred to as gaff tape or gaffing tape, is a tough, firm pressure-sensitive tape made from cotton fiber with excellent adhesiveness.

It is most commonly used in theatrical, cinematography, movies and tv production, and commercial staging.

In actuality, when wires are attached to a stage or other structure, either to reduce hazards or to conceal them from the vision of the audience, they are described as “gaffed” or “gaffered,” and that’s how the tape got its name.

Duct tape, commonly known as duct tape, is pressure-sensitive tape with a fabric or scrim backing and a polyethylene coating.

Duct tape has also been used to fix fiberglass exterior in racing for almost forty years, and it also has various applications in aerospace, defense, and other sectors.

Unlike other tapes, duct tape features a fabric covering that offers mechanical rigidity while allowing it to be readily ripped and attached to a broad range of surfaces.

It has been well known for its flexibility and long-term sturdiness.

Comparison Table

Parameters of comparisonGaffer tapeDuct tape
AdhesiveGaffer tape may be removed without harming the surface and leaving just a faint residue. Duct tape leaves a sticky rubber-based adhesive behind such residue may harm or gum up the surfaces
FlexibilityGaffer tape is less flexible and does not stretch as easily.Duct tape stretches easily.
ResistanceGaffer tape is typically moisture resistant, although it is not waterproof.Duct tape is water and weather resistant, however, it is not heat resistant.
TearableGaffer tape may be readily ripped with your hands.Duct tape is tough to rip with just your hands.
PriceThe cost of gaffer tape is generally higher.Duct tape is less expensive.

What is Gaffer Tape?

Gaffer tape (also known as, gaff tape, or gaffa tape, and spike tape for thinner, multi-colored gaffer tape) is made of thick cotton fiber pressure-sensitive tape with excellent adhesive and tensile properties.

It is commonly used in theatrical, photography, movie, broadcast, and media production, as well as commercial setup.

Ross Lowell, a filmmaker, and the creator of Lowell-Light created gaffer tape in 1959. Lowell-Light introduced gaffer tape to the industry by repurposing the glue from Johnson & Johnson’s Permacel tape

Although comparable to duct tape, gaffer tape differs in the substance of the covering, which itself is made of fabrics rather than vinyl or any other plastics, and the adhesion, that is more resistant to heat and simpler to withdraw without damaging the object to which it is applied.

It comes in a variety of thicknesses spanning from 14 in (6 mm) to 4 in (102 mm). Gaffer tape is tough but can still be tugged by hands, avoiding any need for cutting equipment.

It can also be easily shredded into smaller sections as needed.

When artificial glue is separated, it tends to leave very little if any residue and does not damage most materials.

It is often more costly than duct tape since it is produced in small volumes, adheres to much stricter guidelines, and is developed for industrial usage.

Gaffer tape is available in a variety of shades, including vivid and custom color schemes, however, matte black has been the most common.

The matte texture of the tape stops it from reflecting any kind of light, permitting it to merge in with a regular stage floor.

What is Duct Tape?

Duct tape (originally termed as “duck tape” since it was initially made of cotton duck fabric) is a pressure-sensitive tape with a cloth backing.

There are numerous constructions that employ various arrangements and adhesives, and the term “duct tape” has become generic to refer to a variety of cloth tapes with varying uses.

Johnson & Johnson customized surgical adhesives tapes to Stoudt’s specifications, and troops dubbed the substance “duck tape” because it repelled moisture “like water off a duck’s back.”

(It was also nicknamed 100-mph tape because it could keep a speeding jeep together.)

Post – World War II, duct tape became popular in the United States as a useful tool for house building.

People were using it to join metal air ducts, so the firm renamed it as “duct tape” and updated it with a matching silver powdered aluminum hue. As a result, duck tape was transformed into duct tape.

Contemporary duct tape is made of rayon, nylon, polyester, cotton, or fiberglass mesh fabric for providing strength.

The fabric seems to be a very fine gauze known as “scrim,” which is attached to a reduced density polyethylene backing.

Several dyes produce the low-density polyethylene backing color, it is powered by aluminum that adds to generating the characteristic grey tint.

The most common tape thicknesses are 1.9 in (48 mm) and 2 in (51 mm). When a tough, versatile, and very sticky tape is desired, duct tape is frequently used. Some are weather resistant and have a long-lasting grip.

Main Differences Between Gaffer Tape And Duct Tape

  1. Gaffer tape, commonly known as gaff tape, is a synthetic rubber-based adhesive reinforced with a thick, coated fabric substance. Duct tape, on the other hand, is reinforced with a waterproof polyethene fabric backing and employs a rubber-based adhesive.
  2. Gaffer tape is matte black in color. Whereas the backing on duct tape has a reflective/shiny appearance.
  3. Gaffer tape may be removed without leaving any residue or harming the surface to which it was attached. However, duct tape generally leaves a residue and may harm the surface it is adhered to when removed.
  4. Gaffer tape is intended for short-term usage in industrial, theatre, television, and film staging. Duct tape, on the other hand, is meant for semi-permanent or permanent use for instance, construction work.
  5. Gaffer tape is less flexible than duct tape, but it is ideal for circumstances where the tape must retain its form. Duct tape, on the other hand, is highly flexible and simple to stretch for circumstances when the tape must fit into small spaces or hug uneven surfaces
Difference Between Gaffer Tape and Duct Tape


  1. https://search.proquest.com/openview/1745a310cc4e407c173a830423a669e7/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=34704
  2. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapediatrics/fullarticle/203979
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