Thermal Insulating Tapes Information

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Selecting Thermal Insulating Tapes



Selecting Thermal Insulating Tapes       Selecting Thermal Insulating Tapes     Selecting Thermal Insulating Tapes

Image credits: Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics | Arlon LLC | Berry Plastics Corp.



Thermal insulating tapes consist of porous foam or cloth backing materials, which provides a thermal barrier around or between components. These tapes are manufactured with a variety of backings and adhesives suited to a wide range of applications.


Thermal Insulating Tape Applications


Cold water or refrigeration tubing and piping systems: Foam tapes are commonly used as wraps to prevent water condensation or frosting on the system lines.  Hot water lines are sometimes insulated with foam or cloth tape to reduce heat loss (image on left below).


         Selecting Thermal Insulating Tapes                                                          Selecting Thermal Insulating Tapes


Image credits: Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics | 3M


High temperature applications: Fiberglass cloth insulating tapes are used in applications such as wrapping hot industrial process piping or automotive muffler tail pipes. Ceramic cloth insulating tapes are used in specialized industrial applications with even higher temperatures (image on right above).


Fireproofing: Intumescent tapes are used in fireproofing applications. Intumescent tapes expand and produce foam char, which insulates and protects the underlying surface from additional fire damage.


                             Selecting Thermal Insulating Tapes                                   Selecting Thermal Insulating Tapes

Image credits: 3M | Berry Plastics


Heat shielding or reflection: Thermal insulating tapes with foil or metallized plastic film can provide heat shielding or reflect radiant heat. In some thermal insulating tape constructions, an inner foam or fiber core is covered with a metal sheet or foil jacket. The metal sheet provides protection against mechanical damage and can reflect thermal radiation as well.



Properties of Thermal Insulating Tapes


The proposed use of thermal insulating tape determines which properties are relevant to the selection process.  For descriptions of the properties listed below, consult the Adhesive Tapes Area Selection Guide and the Industrial Tapes Area Selection Guide.



Performance Characteristics 

  • Dielectric strength
  • Electrical resistivity
  • Peel strength/adhesion
  • Standards compliance
  • Temperature resistance
  • Water vapor permeability
  • Tensile strength


Materials of Construction



  • Cloth/woven fabric
  • Glass/fiberglass
  • Fluoropolymer
  • Foam

  • Metal foil/sheet


  • None/non-adhesive
  • Acrylic
  • Pressure sensitive
  • Rubber
  • Silicone
  • Specialty/other



  • Thickness
  • Width



  • Abrasion resistance
  • Anti-static/ESD control
  • Dielectric/insulating
  • Electrically conductive
  • EMI/RFI shielding
  • Permanent or removable
  • UV/weather resistant


Standards for Thermal Insulating Tapes


Several different organizations set standards for thermal insulating tapes. ASTM International promulgates voluntary, consensus standards and technical information that, among other purposes, measure the reliability of materials and products. Industries and  military organizations routinely require that products meet their own standards before the organization will purchase them.


Relevant ASTM standards:


Standard for Elastomeric Cellular Thermal Insulation

Thermal Insulation for Piping and Machinery

Terminology Related to Thermal Insulation


Industry and military standards:


SAE AMS3779A: Tape, Adhesive, Pressure-Sensitive Thermal Radiation Resistant

ARMY A-A-59258 Valid Notice 1: Tape, Aluminum Foil, Heat Reflective, Pressure Sensitive Adhesive

Navy MIL-C-20079H: Cloth, Glass; Tape, Textile Glass; and Thread, Glass and Wire-Reinforced Glass

NAVISTAR TMS 6614: Piping Insulation