If you’ve ever had to move from one house to another, you probably know what a hassle it can be to pack up your things.
One of the many issues that arise with moving is that moving companies can be quite expensive, so many people end up packing up their belongings on their own, especially if they live alone or are moving to an apartment or college dorm.
Most people use cardboard cartons to carry their belongings, but what type of tape is the best and most durable for protecting your material possessions?
Best Overall Tapes for Packing
The best and most widely-used tape for moving, bar-none, is packing tape.
Usually transparent, waterproof and sold on fat cardboard rolls, packing tape is manufactured by numerous brands, from Scotch to Seal-It, and often a very important supply featured at professional packing companies, for example, Cabot Shipping Supplies in the province of Nova Scotia.
You can find packing tape in most hardware stores, and it’s also sold from online retailers such as Amazon.com. This tape is very sturdy, plus it can be used to not only seal a box shut, but also be completely wrapped around the whole box to protect its contents during shipping, which is especially useful during those late months of autumn and spring when it begins to pour rain.
Duct tape is sometimes used as a substitute because of its hardy surface and strong adhesive, but it can be difficult to remove from cardboard cartons.
This can be a problem if you’re a moving company and you plan to reuse the cartons, but if you’re just an average joe looking to load up a few boxes into your car and move to a new place, duct tape can be an effective way to seal boxes, though it’s slightly on the more expensive side compared to packing tape.
If you have duct tape on-hand already though, it’s a good second choice after packing tape.
If you’re planning to pack a box for home storage without really moving it to a new location, masking tape can work, but it will sometimes peel off if not pressed firmly down, and if kept in a damp place like a musty old basement, a carton held shut with masking tape can be prone to leakage, mold and sowbugs/pillbugs.
Only use masking tape for packing as a temporary fix, and only in a warm, well-lit place with a low humidity level. If you’re packing very special sentimental items like old film reels, VHS tapes or family photos, you should go with the traditional packing tape, and use a thicker box for storage, one made out of a more durable material like metal or plastic cases designed specially for archival storage.
Masking tape actually has a much better use than sealing boxes – it can be used to make cheap, handy labels for each box so you’ll remember what’s in each one and who it belongs to.
Masking tape has a paper-like surface that can be written on with a marker or pen. So while it’s not the best option for sealing or reinforcing boxes, it still has a great function and it will save you the cost of buying expensive carton labels.
Tips and Cautionary Advice
When unpacking, never try to pull or rip the tape off the box. Instead, use an X-Acto knife to neatly cut through the tape, along the line formed between the two closed top flaps on the cardboard carton.
By cutting through the tape instead of ripping it off, you not only don’t have to worry about sticky glue residue getting on your belongings and skin, but you’ll also be able to save and reuse the carton for later since it won’t be damaged.
Stay away from craft tape or Washi tape. While Washi tape might be decorative and fun, it’s not very strong for keeping boxes sealed.
Also avoid the thin black eel-like tape known as electrical tape. Electrical tape is intended for use with computers, wires and circuits, and is not designed as an effective packing adhesive.
Take extra care when packing items like print books, magazines, newspapers, photos and artwork, otherwise the tape might accidentally get stuck on these items and damage them or rip them.