What’s the Difference Between PVC and Polypropylene Tape?

Custom PVC Packaging Tapes

Although they’re made from plastic materials, there are several differences between PVC and polypropylene tape.  Before you choose a custom packing tape, it’s important to understand these differences, as different tapes will work better for different applications.

Polypropylene tape

Polypropylene tape is the most popular variety of shipping tape. If you walk into an office supply store in search of tape, there’s a good chance you’ll walk out with polypropylene.

Among its benefits:

1. It’s an economical choice for custom packing tape

Polypropylene tape tends to be priced lower than other tapes, which makes it an ideal choice for businesses that need to keep shipping costs down.

2. High-quality printability

Does your custom packing tape design require a high level of detail? If so, this is one area where polypropylene tape has an edge over PVC tape.

While both varieties will suffice on projects that require simple printing, such as a tape that features your company’s name.

But for longer printing runs with more detailed images/logos, you’ll be better off with polypropylene tape, which uses a polymer plate.

The PVC tape printing process uses a rubber plate. Over time, the rubber absorbs the printing ink and begins to swell, leading to thicker printing and less-defined image quality.

3. A range of thickness

When shipping heavier products, look for a custom packing tape that has a greater thickness. For PVC and polypropylene tape, the thickness is measured by mils. One mil is the equivalent of one-thousandth of an inch.

Tapes normally measure between 1.6 mils and 3 mils. The thicker the tape, the more aggressive the adhesive. Our Polypropylene tape is between 1.9 mils, which is good for smaller lighter packages to 2.9 mils, which is good for shipping packages that weigh more than 50 pounds.

Polypropylene offers nice adhesion to corrugated cardboard boxes. Just remember that weight matters more than box size in determining your tape choice. You might end up shipping a product that weighs just 10 pounds in a large box surrounded by void fill.

PVC Tape

PVC tape is a versatile product, thicker and stronger than polypropylene. A PVC tape that is 2.2 mils thick will allow you to seal boxes that weigh up to 40 pounds. PVC packing tape in the 3.2 mil range can handle even heavier products. It’s a good idea to ask for a sample roll if you aren’t sure which tape thickness

PVC tape has another edge over polypropylene in that it’s easier to manage when working with a long strip and less likely to become stuck to itself (and easier to get unstuck if that does happen).

Although it’s true that PVC tape will need more pressure to adhere to a surface, once it does stick, it will do so more aggressively, and to a greater variety of surfaces.

Finally, it’s a much quieter tape than polypropylene, which makes a crackling sound as it unspools from its roll. If you’re working from home or in an office that values quiet, choose PVC tape.

PVC vs. Polypropylene tape: Summing up

To review, polypropylene tape is

The most popular custom packing tape variety

  • Easy to identify thanks to the crackling sound it makes when unspooled
  • Economic and cost-efficient
  • Print up to three inks
  • A better choice for longer print runs

PVC tape, meanwhile:

  • Is a premium quality tape
  • Tears easily by hand
  • Unspools with little noise
  • Provides superior adhesion on a wide range of surfaces

Are you still not sure which of these tapes is the best choice to ship your product? Turn to Phoenix Tape.

For more than 35 years, we’ve worked with companies like yours to help make sure they have a custom packing tape that promotes their brand and secures their products, all at an affordable cost. Contact us today to learn more.