Foam Tapes Information
Foam tapes are used for a variety of applications including but not limited to: gasketing, bonding, sealing, weatherstripping, acoustical (sound isolation), thermal insulation, and vibration damping. Various types of foam tapes are ideal for use in appliances, automotive applications, electrical/electronics, shower and bath, truck/trailer/RV, point-of-purchase signage, window fabrication, and plastic molder/extruder applications.
Foam tape is often used in place of mechanical fasteners (rivets, bolts, screws, and welding materials) because of its ability to withstand a high level of vibration, its high strength and its durable seals against cold, dust, gas, liquid, sounds, etc.
Variations in foam tape properties (density, thickness, adhesive type, and cell structure) allow for a great variety of end uses and applications. Foam tape is extremely flexible which allows for filling spaces and making it conformable for joining irregular surfaces. The normal temperature range that foam tape can withstand is -40°F to 300°F. Foam tape resists moisture, ultraviolet rays from the sun, and solvents, providing high bonding strength to compensate for different thermal expansions.
Foam tapes are used for a vast amount of different types of bonding and sealing applications. Examples of foam tape uses include various applications in the automotive industry such as bonding plastic emblems onto metal substrates, sealing windows, doors, sun roofs, and trunks/hatches. Foam tapes are also used extensively in the HVAC and construction industries for various applications.
A common use for foam tape is to use it as gasketing tape. Adhesive-coated foam tapes are compressible sealants that close up an area between two matched machine parts or around pipe joints to prevent the escape of a gas, fluid, air, or sound. Some areas of use include electrical enclosures, shed doors, and garage doors. Foam tapes are an alternative sealant to rubber foams or pumpable sealants/caulk.
Another common application of foam tape is as a weatherstripping material. It is frequently placed along doors (sometimes windows) to keep cold and hot air outside. When there is an insufficient seal around a window or door due to age or poor construction, foam tape seals the gaps, offering a solid, long-term, cost-effective solution to replacement.
Foam tape usually comes in rolls and has a removable backing that is peeled off immediately prior to application. While many foam tape applications require adhesive on one side only, double-sided foam tape is also available. This is often used when the two sides that are joined by the tape are not expected to be moved. This would likely not be the case for weatherstripping applications because windows and doors are often opened during more temperate months. When outdoor temperatures heat up, doors and windows are closed and the one-sided weatherstripping remains in place and protects against heat entering, or cooling from air-conditioning escaping.
Due to the thickness of foam tape, it does not usually come in lengths longer than about eight feet to a roll, which may not even be enough to weatherstrip one window. It is important to check lengths before purchasing to ensure the roll contains enough tape to complete the desired task.
For load-bearing tasks using foam tape, the required weight to be supported must be assessed in order to determine the tape area needed. One square inch of tape should be used for every .5 lb. of loading. The substrates and environmental conditions may alter the tape area required. Some factors to consider are:
- Indoor/outdoor use
- Weather exposure
- Ultraviolet light
Foam Tape Materials and Recommended Applications
Foam tapes come in a variety of high-strength, resilient materials such as acrylic, neoprene, polyethylene and polyurethane foam.
|Polyethylene||Rubber-based adhesive makes it ideal for indoor use|
|Neoprene EPDM Blend||Long-lasting indoor/outdoor tape best for sealing and weatherstripping applications|
|Polyether & Polyester Urethane||Conformable low-density foam which provides good insulation for interior/protected-outdoor applications|
|PVC Vinyl||Best in applications where impact cushioning is necessary and long-term outdoor exposure is expected|
|Vinyl Nitrile||Ideal in machinery and heavy appliances due to its powerful vibration dampening and impact cushioning|
Available with or without adhesive, possesses superior durability and resistant to heat, chemicals and weather
Foam tape primers are available for hard to bond surfaces such as polypropylene, concrete or painted metal for better adhesion and stronger bond.
Advantages of Foam Tape vs. Mechanical Fasteners
Mechanical fasteners are used in many applications to attach one item to another for a semi-permanent or permanent mounting solution. Foam tape offers advantages over using mechanical fasteners, including:
- Quick and easy application
- Labor time decreases along with cost
- Better thermal and acoustical insulation
- No tools or equipment required for application
- Does not require drilled holes which could cause leaks, harm the surface of an object, and create a potential for corrosion
Advantages of Foam Tape vs. Liquid Adhesives
Liquid adhesives can be difficult to use as they are sometimes hard to apply and can be messy. Foam tape can be a better alternative to liquid adhesives for the following reasons:
- Does not require any type of mixing prior to application
- Does not generate waste other than paper backing that is removed prior to application
- Is applied expediently
- There is no prep time or clean up time
- Does not run or sag
- Possesses a long shelf-life (they do not dry up, clot or congeal)