It’s easy to assume the tape itself is to blame. But truth be told, there are some other usual suspects to consider first. When trouble-shooting double sided tape problems, start with our Complete Technical Guide to Double Sided Tape, and then consider these 8 common issues:
1. Failure to Test. We get it. The package label made monumental promises, but generally speaking, adhesive testing should always be done prior to using a double sided tape. Not all double-sided tapes are created equal. Maybe the one you chose isn’t aggressive enough and it fell off. Or, perhaps, it’s too aggressive and caused damage to the surface it was applied to. When in doubt, test the adhesive first.
2. Temperature. Carefully factor in the temperature. Are both the tape and the surface at least 18ºC/65ºF? The tackiness of the adhesive tape is very temperature dependent, and the colder the conditions, the poorer the bond will be. If you must work at lower temperatures, then use a temperature-sensitive double-sided tape specifically designed for colder climates.
3. Was the surface clean? Traces of dust, dirt, grease, and even the slightest trace of moisture prior to bonding will contaminate the adhesive surface and act as a barrier between the two. To best prepare the surface, give it a quick wash with rubbing alcohol and dry it with a clean cloth.
4. UV Exposure. In the world of tape, with prolonged exposure to ultraviolet light, certain chemical materials, such as natural and some synthetic rubbers as well as polyethylene, can experience negative changes to their properties; resulting in them becoming hard and brittle. Absolutely not the qualities you want in a tape that needs to hold for any duration in a particular application.
5. Chemical migration. Liquids such as oils, plasticizers, and dyes are a lighter weight material and can therefore easily “move” from the product (the surface) to be absorbed by any adjacent material (the tape). This movement is known as “migration.” For example, consider PVC; plasticized to provide flexibility, it is a lower-cost, lower-molecular weight material. If a typical pressure-sensitive adhesive is applied to such a surface and allowed to remain in place for a prolonged period, the plasticizer will migrate from the PVC surface into the pressure-sensitive adhesive; making the adhesive a gummy mess. When using this type of material, high-quality, pressure-sensitive adhesives considerably reduce any tendency to migrate.
6. Improper calculations. The correct surface contact to weight ratio plays a factor. Think of it this way: Is there a big enough surface of sticky stuff applied to a substrate to hold the weight of the object stuck to the other side of the tape? Likewise, does the “other side” have a big enough surface of sticky stuff applied to it to hold the weight of the object? For example: If you need to adhere poly sheeting to a wall, you need to have a wide enough strip of double-coated tape to be able to hold the weight of the poly sheeting to the wall. In this scenario, 1/4” wide might fall, but 1/2″ might do it.
7. Improper storage. If you leave milk on the counter overnight, it spoils. The same is true of building supplies. When materials are bought in bulk and stored in dirty, wet or extremely hot or cold conditions for extended periods of time, the adhesive deteriorates. [Read more about extending the shelf life of your tape here.
8. Improper installation. It’s not always roll and go. Did you put enough pressure on the tape? Did you clean the surface before applying the tape? Did you remember to remove the liner? (Yes, that happened!)