As the holiday season approaches, millions of people will turn to pressure-sensitive adhesive (PSA) tape to help check off their to-do list. From hanging decorations to wrapping gifts, PSA tape is a useful tool in a person’s seasonal arsenal.

However, not all PSA tapes are alike. When a pressure-sensitive tape is bonded to a surface, many different processes take place. Understanding these processes will help ensure that tapes are bonded correctly and perform as expected. The polymers used to make PSA tapes can behave as both liquids and solids, depending on the circumstances. It is the tapes’ liquid behavior that becomes important initially when sticking to surfaces.


Gift Wrapping

While we don’t typically address gift wrapping as an association, the holiday season makes it relevant. After all the effort made in choosing just the right gift, a perfect wrapping job finishes the gift-giving process. When choosing the right PSA tape for gift wrapping, it’s good to keep in mind the tape will likely be visible. Double-sided PSA tape has adhesives on both sides, making it easier to place wrapping paper directly over the tape and hiding it completely. This is a great tool to consider when using a thicker type of wrap, such as packaging paper.



Using tape for decorating purposes has become popular within the last few years. Although taping lightweight décor on the walls may seem like the easiest solution, it is important to ensure the correct PSA tape is used. Certain brands and styles are easily removable; these include a pull tab that allows foam pad and adhesive to be quickly and easily removed from the wall. Other styles are designed to be permanent and require cleaning for full removal. To permanently mount a mirror or temporarily affix lightweight decorations to the wall or ceiling without using nails, double-sided tape is a great choice.

Depending on the components used within a tape, the type of adhesives, backings and primers making up the adhesive tape define its characteristics and can be adjusted to the demands of an application. If looking to avoid obvious seaming or nail holes is the objective, PSA tape can be easily hidden behind objects without compromising the adhesive strength.

Several factors can affect bonding when applying tape to curved or non-flat surfaces. The curved surface will induce forces on the edges or bend points in the tape, which can result in a de-bonding peel force that causes the tape to pull away from the surface. In these cases, the tape selected must have a strong enough adhesion to overcome these forces. This may require selecting a much different tape than would be used to bond to the same material on a flat surface.

For permanent applications, it is important to apply a PSA such as double-sided tissue or acrylic foam tape, which provides a range of options from which to choose. Similarly, options for permanent or semi-permanent differential PSA tapes are available to users, with clean removal tapes allowing for little (to no) damage to the surface of the wall or ceiling being adhered to, which is typically difficult to achieve with other adhesives or mechanical fasteners.

Michel Merkx is president of the Pressure Sensitive Tape
Council and corporate vice president and general manager of American Biltrite Inc. For more information, visit

Any views or opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not represent those of ASI, its staff, Editorial Advisory Board or BNP Media.