How to Use Duct Tape
Duct tape is an extremely versatile household item. The sticky side alone can be used as a simple tool in any number of ways, from quickly cleaning a surface to catching flies. It’s also a handy item for both preventing and repairing damage. Not only that, but it can also be transformed into other tools for emergency use, including rope, cups, or bowls.
Making Quick Repairs
Fix leaks with a temporary patch jobs.Cover holes with duct tape as a stop-gap solution for water or air leaks. This won’t hold up permanently, so don’t consider it a long-term fix. However, in the short-term, use duct tape to slow or stop leaks in things like:
- Bike tires
- Inflatable balls
- Water bottles
Fortify split plastic.Don’t throw away a plastic item just because the plastic has cracked. As long as you don’t care about appearances, get some more life out of it by mending the split with duct tape. For a stronger patch job, apply one long strip along the split itself, and then cross that with shorter strips. This can help you get more use out of things like:
- Cans, bins, and other containers
- Household tools like rakes and dustpans
Mend your house’s vinyl siding.Replacing the siding to your house isn’t something you can always do immediately after it has been dinged, scratched, or punctured, so utilize duct tape as a temporary fix. Protect your home from insects and water damage. Cover the damaged area with duct tape until you can make a more lasting repair.
Replace shingles.Like vinyl siding, you may not be able to repair broken shingles or replace missing ones right away, but you also don’t want to leave your roof exposed in the meantime. If you have any ¼-inch (6 mm) plywood handy, cut it to size and wrap it in duct tape. Replace the missing or broken shingle by jimmying your impromptu one into place underneath the one above.
Cover holes in window screens.Window screens often tear, especially around the edges. Prevent insects from making use of this. Keep your house pest-free by taping over any sizable gaps that they could fit through.
Utilizing Duct Tape as a Preventative Measure
Safeguard your floors from scratches.If you find that a felt pad has fallen off the bottom of one of the legs to your chair, table, or other furniture, replace it with duct tape if you don’t have a pack of extra pads handy. Simply tear off a strip and start folding it up until it equals the size and thickness of the remaining pads so that your furniture remains level. Trim off any excess if needed and use that to secure your new pad to the bottom of the leg, or tear off a new piece and do the same.
Tape your windows before storms.For each pane of glass, cut off two strips that are long enough to reach from one corner to its opposite. Stick them directly to the glass, forming an X. Reduce the risk of injury due to glass shattering during storms, tornadoes, or other weather events with high winds.
- This won’t prevent your windows from breaking. However, it will reduce the chance of the glass shattering into lots of small pieces. This minimizes the number of shards you have to watch out for in case your windows blow in.
Secure loose cords.If you have electrical or extension cords crossing your floor, deck, or patio (or anything similar that people could easily trip over), pull your tape’s loose end out, center it over the cord, and secure the tape to the floor on either side of the cord. Then unroll the tape over the cord’s length, securing the tape to the floor as you go. This is an especially good idea for:
- Holidays like Halloween or Christmas, for which you might have lots of plug-in decorations both inside and out.
- Parties, barbecues, or other gatherings, for which you may have special equipment and lots of guests.
Keep your feet dry.If heavy rains are coming and you need some waterproof shoes real quick, repurpose an old pair of sneakers. First, wrap duct tape around the base of your sneaker. Continue wrapping toward the top, covering roughly half of each previous layer to keep water from leaking in around the edges. Switch to attaching smaller strips across the cross ties, tongue, and rim as you near the top.
- Regarding the laces, it’s up to you: either tie them in a double knot and tape them up, or leave them untied and exposed so you can tie and untie them before and after use.
Using the Sticky Side
Use it as fly tape.If you find yourself plagued by flies or other insects, trap them with duct tape. Cut off a length and then attach the two free ends to each other to form a loop, with the sticky side facing outward. Fix this to your ceiling wherever flies are concentrating.
Clean up dust, dirt, and hair.Simply pat the sticky side of a swath of tape over your clothes, furniture, or anything else that needs a quick clean-up. Repeat as needed until all the offending particles are removed. For large areas, speed things up by grabbing an empty paint roller and wrapping your tape around the actual roller with the sticky side facing out.
Get rid of other sticky materials.Use a strip of duct tape to cover the leftover bits of price stickers and other adhesives left behind when you tried to tear them off new purchases or other items. Rub your finger back and forth over the surface of the tape to make sure it adheres to the offending adhesive underneath, and then rip the tape off. Repeat as needed, then remove all final traces if desired by misting window spray and scrubbing lightly with a cloth or paper towel.
Hide small objects.Say you want to keep a spare key outside, or hide a thumbdrive in your office where prying eyes won’t find it. Just rip off an appropriately sized strip of tape and secure your key, thumbdrive, or other small object in the center of its sticky side. Then attach the tape to a solid surface somewhere out of sight, where people won’t think to look.
Turning Duct Tape into Other Items
Make trail markers.If you’re hiking in the woods and need to find your way back, rip off squares of duct tape and stick them at regular intervals and appropriate turns along the way. If you need to point someone in the direction you’ve gone, rip off one long strip and two shorts to form arrows. In either case, make sure you stick to tape to sturdy objects, like a tree trunk, rather than a leaf that might get torn off.
Use it as a sticky note.Need to leave a note where someone’s sure to see it? Don’t waste materials by using both tape and paper. Use a marker to jot down your note directly onto the duct tape’s non-sticky side. Then simply affix it wherever it will stand out.
Spell out letters.Need to leave a message but don’t have a marker? Don’t worry! Just tear off lengths of duct tape and use each one as a line in a letter. For example, for the letter A, tear off two long strips for the diagonal lines and a short one for the horizontal line. Then stick them wherever someone will see it.
- This is particularly helpful if you need to spell out huge letters to be seen from a distance, like "HELP!"
Turn it into handcuffs.If you need to restrain someone, cross their wrists behind their back. Affix your roll’s open end directly to their skin. Then unroll the tape over and under where their wrists cross to secure them in place.
Fashion it into a cord or rope.If you only need one that’s a foot or two long, unroll that much and tear it from the roll. Lay it down sticky-side up and then roll it up tightly, with the sticky side on the inside, from one long side to the other. If you need a longer cord, unroll a little bit at a time and start twisting it up as you go. Add more layers if needed to make a stronger, thicker cord.
Make a bowl or cup.Tear off several long strips, line them up next to each other with the sticky sides facing up, and pull each one about halfway over the preceding one for a tight seal. Fold the whole thing in half and seal the sticky sides together. Then:
- Place a stone or similar object in its center.
- Bunch up the free ends around the stone to form sides for your cup or bowl.
- Unroll more tape horizontally around the sides to keep them in place, then remove the stone.
QuestionCan I use duct tape to seal a gap that is from floor to wall?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes, but keep in mind that it would be difficult to remove if you decide you don't want it there anymore, and would possibly remove paint or do damage to wood.Thanks!
QuestionCan I place it around a bush before putting on burlap?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThanks!
QuestionDoes duct tape ruin what it's attached to in extreme heat or cold?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes, duct tape can easily peel off or melt in the heat, so keep this in mind before applying it.Thanks!
QuestionCan I use duct tape to redo my bathroom walls?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerNo. You'll make a mess of your walls and the steam generated by your shower would cause sweating and other unpleasant effects. Just paint the walls with a satin paint.Thanks!
Can I wrap silver ( aluminum koror) duck tape on card board so I can make the effect of sun reflective and keep the heat off my windows in the summer?
Can some one run me over with a car?
Can duct tape be used under cement or paint to fill large holes?
Can I use duct tape instead of masking tape for caulk?
Can I use duct tape on a polycarbonate roof?
- A paper clip works perfectly for holding your place in a roll of sticky duct tape.
- Duct tape removal can also remove paint and other surfaces. Be sure that you don't mind this happening before using any of the surface application methods. Alternatively, use something like WD-40 or mineral oil to help soften the adhesive before trying to remove.
Video: Brilliant Uses and Hacks for Duct or Duck Tape
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