What is Gaffer’s Tape

Whether you are a professional or a DIYer, adhesive tapes are the must-have items in your arsenal. Well, one such adhesive tape is Gaffer’s tape.

Gaffer’s tape is basically a pressure-sensitive tape with notable heat and removability characteristics. The tape has got its name from the sets of theater where the cables, which are taped down to prevent hazards and becoming an eyesore, are said to be “gaffed.”

Below, our guide contains the breakdown of everything you need to know about Gaffer’s Tape, including how it differs from the more commonly known duct tape.

So, without further ado, let’s get straight into it!

What is Gaffer’s Tape Made of?

What is Gaffer’s Tape

To begin with, let’s talk about the make-up of Gaffer’s Tape.

The Gaffer’s Tape is made up of vinyl-coated, heavy cotton cloth, having strong adhesive qualities that allow for a matte finish. The fact that it does not reflect light or intervene with the visuals makes it ideal for being used in the film and music industry.

Furthermore, when the Gaffers tape is removed from the material, it does not damage, nor does it leave behind any kind of residue.

What is Gaffer’s Tape Used for?

A Gaffer’s tape has ample applications all around us, especially in the production industry. Here are some of the specific uses of the Gaffer’s tape on set:

  • To attach the gel to lights
  • To spike a tripod
  • To set marks for an actor
  • To tape things to a painted wall since Gaffers Tape doesn’t pull off paint
  • To secure cables together or with the floor
  • To hang up cloth or paper
  • To label circuits and dimmers
  • To label gear
  • To secure backdrops
  • To mark positions because of the tape’s durability against foot traffic

Aside from its unending uses in the production industry, one relatively less common use of Gaffer’s tape is the repairing of tears in vinyl surfaces, like booths and bus seats.

What Size Gaffer’s Tape is Most Useful?

Gaffer’s Tape is sold in a variety of widths, from ¼’’ to 4’’. However, the most useful ones on a film set or in a photography session are 1’’ and 2’’.

Gaffer’s Tape or Duct Tape?

What is Gaffer’s Tape

If you are considering purchasing Gaffer’s Tape, then the odds are you must have come across another type of tape, called duct tape. Below, we have outlined some of the differences between the two so that you can pick the right one for your needs.


The primary difference that sets duct tape apart from Gaffer’s tape is obviously its composition.

As mentioned above, while Gaffer’s Tape is composed of vinyl-coated cloth, duct tape is made using polyethylene-coated cloth. Hence, while the former provides a matte finish, the latter is reflective in nature.

Nature of Adhesive

When needed, the composition of Gaffer’s tape allows it to be cleanly removed without leaving any marks or residue behind. This makes it ideal for temporary usage.

On the other hand, duct tape is suited to permanent or semi-permanent repairs. Keep in mind, however, that duct tape is removable when needed, just not as easy as the Gaffer’s tape.

Hand Tearable

Due to its comparatively soft texture, Gaffer’s tape can be torn by hand, further justifying its use on a set where tools, such as scissors, are not easily available.

Many duct tapes can be torn by hand. However, some of the variants feature additional reinforcement, which requires hand tools to get cut.

Water and Heat Resistance

While both Guffer’s tape and duct tape are water-resistant, only the former seems to handle high temperatures without melting (up to 93 degrees Celsius). This makes it pretty handy for securing cables that are exposed to the hot lights of cameras.

Duct tape, on the contrary, is likely to dry up and fail when the temperature gets too high.


In the area of flexibility, duct tape seems to have an edge.

Unlike Gaffer’s tape, duct tape can be easily stretched, making it useful to fit into tight corners.


The special properties of Gaffer’s tape, such as its removability and impressive heat resistance, make it just a bit more than twice as expensive as duct tape.

Gaffer’s Tape for 60 yards will cost you around $19.99, while the same length of duct tape is priced at $7.99.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Gaffer’s Tape

Is Gaffer’s Tape Stronger Than Duct Tape?

No, as mentioned above, unlike Gaffer’s tape, duct tape is designed for semi-permanent and permanent usage. So, it makes for a more aggressive adhesive.

Is Gaffer’s Tape Waterproof?

No, since it does not have polyethylene backing.

Can Gaffer Tape be Used on Skin?

No, it would cause burns and rip your skin when removed.


If you’ve thoroughly gone through this guide up to this point, you may already have all the answers you were looking for regarding Gaffer’s Tape.

To reiterate, it is essentially an adhesive that is designed preferably for short-term applications. It is largely used in film, music, and TV industries. Although it costs more than duct tape, its exclusivity and unique properties, such as heat resistance, balance out the cost difference to a great extent.

Liam Weissman

Hello and welcome to PowerToolGenius! My name is Liam and for the last 9 years, I have worked extensively with various power tools and accessories. I have tested hundreds of different brands and models and understand the industry extensively and have been working with tools my entire life!

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