Gaffer tape is also called gaff tape, spike tape or camera tape and comes with excellent tensile and adhesive properties. You will find it being used widely in the entertainment industry including television production, theatre, film, photography, and also in industrial staging. Many believe that it got its name from the gaffer, who is commonly the chief lighting crew on a film production set.

In the following sections we will look at some of the main features of this tape and its various applications.

What is gaffer tape?

Gaffer tape generally looks very much like duct tape however, it comes with its own unique qualities. We can call it a close variant of duct tape that is used by media production crews in concerts, motion pictures, live shows, and television to tape cables as well as other setups of short term nature.

Gaffers tape is used for short term usage and as such, when it is removed, it will not leave any residue or harm things it has been applied to, even when the tape is removed after a long duration.

When we compare it to duct tape, the rubber adhesion is not capable of withstanding high heat and consequently, it melts and softens and leaves behind residue when it is removed. On the other hand, gaffers tape is able to withstand temperatures of up to 93OC.

Features of Gaffers Tape

Easy to Tear: This tape is made from cloth and can easily be teared lengthwise to create thinner strips or horizontally to create smaller tapes without requiring scissors. However, you will have to take note of the fact that it will not bond properly on vinyl plastic, or on other surfaces which are dusty or dirty. If it is applied on skin, it won’t stick when a person perspires.

Available in Different Colors: This tape is manufactured in different colors, however, the primary color is matte black so that it can blend properly with a theatre stage setting and with black cables of TV and film cameras.

It has a rough matte finish which will not reflect light and as a result it does not hamper lighting during production shoots.

Excellent Adhesive Bond: It is a pressure sensitive tape and after it is pressed into position, it creates a good adhesive bond with the object. It is different from other tapes, such as duct tape, since a petroleum based synthetic substance is used for this tape instead of the usual natural rubber adhesive.

Maintains Original Color: The problem with duct tape is that if there is any type of wear and tear then the tape starts losing its exterior color and the white threading starts to show. If this happens ,then the tape will absorb lighting and will be more visible on camera.

The good thing about gaffers tape is that it does not have a surface layer that may wear out and as such, it is able to maintain its original color.

Different Sizes: These tapes are available in different widths that range from 1/4th inch to 4 inches and can be up to 6 feet in length.

Applications of Gaffers Tape

Conceal Wires: Usually this tape is utilized for fastening wires so that they can be concealed from the sight of audiences in a theatre or from the view of a camera lens.

Work as Blocking Indicators: Colored tapes are used as thin strips to function like blocking indicators when actors are performing on stage.

Provide a Quick Fix: Gaffers tape is also the preferred choice when an urgent unplanned solution is required such as the repair of broken fixtures or fastening of props or equipment. Additionally, production teams in hotels and convention centers utilize gaffers tape for holding down cables to stands and platforms.

Use in Specialty Applications: Fluorescent gaffers tape can be used in specialty applications. For instance, these tapes can be utilized for marking or color coding so that the visibility of areas and objects can be increased.

These can also be used as a safety marking for directional signage, critical equipment, handrails, and tripping hazards in dark venues.

Other Applications of Gaffers Tape

  • On stage this tape is used for providing black edges to chairs, tables, and other types of props.
  • Gaffers tape can also be utilized for softening clattering noise that occurs when people are walking on the stage.
  • This tape can be used for fastening props kept on shelves in any moving set.
  • Photographers use them for labeling cameras, its accessories, and for avoiding flickering of the lens in a backdrop.
  • It can also be used for preventing light streaking from the viewfinder of a
  • It can be utilized for reinforcing clamps.
  • Musicians playing string and percussion instruments utilize this tape during intense performances for protecting their fingers.
  • It is also a waterproof tape and can be used to provide protection from water while packaging different items.

Lighting crews also use gaffers tape for marking locations on the stage where they need to aim lights and to pinpoint locations on the wall to create a background for head-shots.

Similarly, sound crews fasten belt packs for radio microphones to the back of the actor using gaffers tape and it is also used for securing a microphone’s stand position.

To conclude we can say that gaffers tape is a multi-purpose tape that proves to be quite useful in media and entertainment industry. It serves a specific industry and as such it is not produced in bulk and moreover has a higher price tag compared to other types of tapes such as the duct tape because of its versatility and superior performance features.

If you are looking for an easy to use tape that provides strong adhesion, is easy to remove, and does not leave behind much residue then gaffer tape is the right option for you to choose.

In case, you are thinking where to buy gaffers tape, then they are readily available online and will be delivered to a location of your choice.