How Wide Is Packing Tape?

How Wide Is Packing Tape?

How wide is packing tape? What width of packing tape should you purchase? What is the best width for packing tape? Should you buy 2 inch or 3 inch wide packing tape? All questions you should consider when starting to research the right packaging tape for your shipping boxes.

The standard widths for clear packing tape is advertised at 2 inches, but most are not the 2 inches they say they are. For paper tape the standard width is advertised at 3 inches, yet again this isn't what you'll actually get. This is all because of the metric system vs. imperial system used in the United States. 

The secret

Tape manufacturers use the metric system when designing and producing packing tapes, but in the US they are advertised using the imperial system to make it easy for the customers. The actual measured width of most standard clear packing tapes that are advertised as 2 inches are actually 1.88 inches or 48 mm. Most consumers think nothing of this and honestly it doesn't matter when choosing the right width for your purpose. Happy we cleared up that little secret!

Shear adhesion

The shear adhesion measurement for PSA tapes relates to its ability to perform under horizontal forces. The limit to the packing tapes adhesive bond to the substrate. For example, if you're using the along the seam method the pressure of the contents pushing out on the box's side can cause the tape adhesives to fail at the flap seam.

This could easily be solved by not over-stuffing the package and using the H-seal with center seam, allowing you to purchase a standard 2 inch clear packing tape.

Shear adhesion is expressed in MPa (megapascal) and will never appear on any packing tape label or average listing description. It's great to be aware of it, but the information will not be available to help you when you're deciding between 2 inch or 3 inch packing tape. 


As you've guessed packing tape performance numbers are not available to the average consumer. This information stays with the manufacturer and they translate it into the intended purpose of the tape. For example light-duty, heavy-duty, storage tape, and packing tape. 

Here is a simple guide to follow to determine if you need 2 inch or 3 inch packing tape. 

Clear Tape: Packages under 50 lbs standard square or rectangle size use 2 inch packing tape. Packages over 50l bs elongated rectangular shape consider 3 inch packing tape. 

Water-activated Paper Tape: Packages around and over 50 lbs use a 2.75 inch packing tape. Packages continuously exceeding 50 lbs use a 3 inch packing tape.

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