Important Characteristics of Foil Tape


It’s common knowledge that, despite its name, cloth-backed duct tape is not a good choice for seaming any kind of mechanical insulation. So what should you use? We advocate that aluminum foil tape is the right tool for the task at hand. Read on to learn the 5 most important things you should know about this product and why it performs on the job.

1. It meets International Building Code standards

In order to meet the International Building Code’s definition of fire-resistant, a composite material must have a flame spread rating no greater than 50. Generally, aluminum foil tape has a flame spread rating of 0 and smoked developed rating of 0.

2. It offers extreme temperature versatility

Aluminum foil tape works in temperatures ranging from 248°F to -22°F and can be applied in temperatures ranging from 14°F to 104°F. Most tapes do not perform well in cold temperatures. Severe cold hardens the adhesive and diminishes sticking power of the tape. If you are applying the tape under cold conditions, it may not stick at all. Conversely, excessive heat can melt the adhesive on some tapes, rendering it useless.

3. It’s made with an acrylic adhesive

Why does this matter? Most duct tapes are made with rubber adhesive, either natural or synthetic. This makes them ineffective at actual duct work because the high heat temperatures delaminate the adhesive from its backing. Some synthetic rubber adhesives offer a greater range of temperature functionality but they also have lower mechanical strength, poor aging resistance, and do not fare well under UV light.

On the other hand, acrylic tapes are known for their superior durability. They have the extreme temperature versatility mentioned above and also continue to perform well after extended exposure to UV light and have high aging resistance. Since acrylic adhesives are polar in nature they bond well to polar surfaces, such as metal, by creating a magnetic-like attraction that is stronger than what can be produced with a rubber adhesive.

4. It’s a great alternative to mastic

Foil tape is a wonderful tool to use in place of mastic. It’s not messy (the biggest drawback of mastic) and uses less equipment (no need for old clothes, eye protection, gloves, paint brushes, drop clothes, etc.) It doesn’t need additional fasteners such as sheet metal screws, scrap metal, and dry wall mesh to seal large areas and it can be used to seal holes in a furnace or air handler.

5. It’s able to hold up over time

In construction, pressure sensitive tapes are often used in areas that are concealed or out-of-the-way. Which means they cannot be easily repaired or replaced. When you choose a tape for a job you want to know that it’s going to hold up for more than a few years.

Fortunately, foil tape is designed to last. Due to its acrylic adhesive technology, it offers better cohesion, adhesion, and thermal stability than a tape with a rubber adhesives. To put it another way, foil tape is designed to hold up to temperature fluctuations, exposure to UV light and other solvents that would normally impact and breakdown the adhesive effectiveness of other types of tape.