Can you use masking tape instead of electrical tape?

Can you use masking tape instead of electrical tape?

In our latest article we look at the qualities of a good insulation tape and investigate whether you can use masking tape instead of electrical tape.

There can be some confusion over the different types of tape available in today’s market, from self-amalgamating tape and gaffer tape to masking tape and PVC insulation tape. But when we need a good electrical tape, what should we look for and what alternatives are there?

Electrical tape is the generic name for adhesive insulation tape that is used for protecting and insulating wires or cables that conduct electricity. There are different types of electrical tape and here at cableties-online, we stock PVC insulation tape.

Properties of electrical tape

A good PVC electrical tape will offer resistance to moisture, chemicals, corrosion and abrasion, as well as UV resistance. It needs to insulate effectively against electricity and should not conduct electricity itself, in order to protect wires and cabling. To a certain degree, it should also be heat and fireproof. A vital feature of an effective electrical tape is its ability to stretch, allowing it to be wrapped tightly around wires to give long-lasting insulation.  

Alternatives to electrical tape

Much has been written about the alternatives to use in place of electrical tape and in our article Is PVC tape the same as electrical tape? we suggest heat shrink tubing and wire connectors. Our complete guide to heat shrink tubing is packed full of lots of helpful information. Despite the number of adhesive tapes available to buy, none should be used as a substitute for electrical tape as a lack of essential qualities will make them unsafe in similar situations.

Can you use masking tape instead of electrical tape?

The short answer is no, you can’t. Or rather, you shouldn’t – people have been known to use masking tape as a temporary measure only, but we would never advise this. So, what’s the problem with masking tape? Well, in the first place, it’s made from textured paper so lacks the flexibility and stretch needed (see above). Second, the adhesive used on masking tape is weak enough to allow it to be removed easily without removing still-tacky paint (it is, after all, known as Painters’ Tape!) and is in fact designed to break down. Masking tape therefore cannot endure or perform as well as electrical tape, as the adhesive can’t be relied upon to create an effective enough bond. Lastly, and most importantly, although masking tape can be considered an insulator, simply because it is not a conductor, it is not an effective insulator because it is not durable.

If you need electrical tape, it is essential to choose a material that has been officially approved for use as an electrical insulator, such as PVC tape. We stock a full range of PVC tape in industry-recognised colours but if you require any further help, or if you are at all unsure about which tape you need, our experienced sales staff is available to help and advise. Simply call us during office hours on 01623 412160 or alternatively, send us an email at and we will get back to you as soon as possible.