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If you are one of the people who grew up calling duct tape “duck tape,” well, you weren’t totally wrong. Like many mass-produced home improvement mainstays, the über-sticky, polyethylene-coated, rubber-based tape we all know and love spun out of World War II industrial innovations; the original version used strips of duck cloth (cheap cotton or linen) to reinforce the adhesive. It quickly became a popular construction product in the postwar years, finding its most frequent application to patch up and insulate air ducts. Thus, “duck tape” became “duct tape.” Today there’s a head-spinning number of adhesives out there branding themselves as “duct tape”; generally they stick (sorry!) to the characteristics we listed above. That being said, plenty of manufacturers are experimenting with ways to make this already burly tape even stronger and offering some standout versions. Below are some of our favorites.
T-Rex Ferociously Strong Tape
Few products could hope to live up to a name as epic as “T-Rex,” but this much-loved brand pulls it off. You won’t be messing around with this product: It’s UV resistant and able to withstand extreme temperatures, and it will affix to even the most stubborn materials (e.g., concrete, brick, and shingles). Best of all, thanks to its excellent waterproof backing, it can handle waterlogged repairs and even stop leaks long-term. Toss in its densely woven cloth and formidable double-thick adhesive, and you’ve got yourself a tape that rivals even Gorilla’s (see our “Professionals’ Choice”), and at for roughly the same price. T-Rex Tape is available in three colors: black, white, and gray.
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The Original Duck Tape
Duck Tape’s motto may well be: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. This is the brand that helped make duct tape a consumer product nearly 50 years ago—thanks to the savvy entrepreneur who copyrighted “Duck” tape and rebranded his company’s product in the 1970s—and it still ranks among the best when it comes to pliability and strength. Its classic adhesive formula clings to most materials and repels water like a charm. It comes in three strengths; the line we’ve linked to here is the middle-grade pick, but if you need something more heavy-duty, Duck’s Max Strength line is for you. We’re amending our initial statement: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it . . . unless you use Duck Tape.
Black Gorilla Tape
Gorilla advertises this product as “duct tape on steroids.” Given that it’s twice as thick as most conventional brands, able to stick to all manner of materials and masonry, and weather-, moisture-, and temperature-resistant, we’re inclined to agree. In fact, it’s so strong that you might not be able to tear it with your hands, which is the only real downside of this tape. Gorilla brings together all the best things about standard duct tape—it just does it better.
Purchase: Black Gorilla Tape, $47.75 on Amazon
Art Alternatives Duct Tape
Is artisanal duct tape a thing? If so, that’s what we’d call this spectacular tape. It uses the traditional woven reinforcement (here made from cotton threads) but has a vinyl exterior rather than the usual polyethylene. Its rubber adhesive is all-natural and ideal for spot fixes like vinyl repair, carpet fastening, and seaming.
TOP OF THE LINE
3M All Weather Duct Tape
It’s a choose-your-own-adventure experience, duct tape edition. Clear tape, no-residue tape, extra-strong tape, weather-resistant tape, tarp-securing tape—you name it, 3M sells it. These tapes also come in many lengths; choose any of five sizes, ranging from 20 to 45 yards. Typically, 3M duct tape is pricey enough to spook some shoppers out of tossing it in their cart, but if you shop carefully, there are bargains to be found on line.