Editor’s Note: This is a guest article by Brett Stone.
If you stop and think for a second, you can probably name two or three places where you have partially used rolls of a sticky, gray, string mesh-reinforced polymer fix-all stashed around your house, garage, and vehicles.
Good ‘ol duct tape: it’s as ubiquitous as it is time-tested. Before it was used for household fixes, it saw action in World War II as a jerry-rigged repair for vehicles and weapons. Later, the venerable tape even went to the moon and helped Apollo 17 astronauts improvise a needed fender extension on the lunar rover. It’s still popular today with more varieties, colors, and patterns than ever.
But despite its popularity and storied history, there are situations where duct tape may not actually be the best choice. Check out these five, too-often overlooked alternatives to duct tape that you may want to consider stashing alongside your old gray standby:
1. Velcro Straps
Ever tried to remove and then replace duct tape more than once or twice only to find that the tack or “stickiness” that held it in place so well the first time had weakened significantly, maybe entirely? Loss of tackiness, while likely to improve your social interactions, is less beneficial when it comes to holding pieces of something together. Enter another space-proven tool: Velcro.
More properly called “hook and loop fasteners” unless you’re specifically referring to the brand name product (for why, check out this YouTube video), Velcro also saw action on Apollo missions, including on the astronauts’ space suits.
Double-sided pull-apart Velcro straps come in rolls and a variety of widths. Open and close as many times as you want; the tiny hooks and loops keep on keeping on without losing their grip.
2. Spray-On Adhesive
When you need the surfaces of two different planar objects to stick to each other, you may be tempted to roll a piece of duct tape into a cylinder with the sticky side out to put between the surfaces. But wouldn’t it be great if the two surfaces could just magically stick to each other without the awkward and weak gap caused by rolled up tape?
It’s not magic, but it does come in an aerosol can. Spray on adhesives like 3M’s Super 77 Multipurpose can bond cardboard, paper, fiberglass insulation, even carpet after only about 15 seconds. What’s more convenient than that?
3. FiberFix Repair Wrap
Advertised with the bold claim that its repair wrap is 100X stronger than duct tape, FiberFix is basically a resin-based fiber composite for those of us who don’t work on jet aircraft or Formula One racecars (where fiber-reinforced composites are common). It’s most useful for broken cylindrical items — think shovel or broom handles, metal or plastic pipes, chair legs, etc. The resin in the fiber-infused wrap begins to cure with exposure to moisture; in about 15 minutes, it hardens into a strong, waterproof barrier around whatever you wrapped.
4. Zip Ties
Also known as cable ties, zip ties use a small clip mechanism or “cased ratchet” to lock onto grooves cut into long, narrow plastic straps and were originally developed to help manage the masses of cables in aircraft. Impressively strong and inexpensive, the uses for these ties abound: Temporary