In the arts and entertainment industries, gaffer’s tape is often used to tape down cables to floors as a safety precaution to prevent people from tripping over them. But did you know there is a right way and a wrong way (or several wrong ways!) to apply gaffer’s tape? Using the wrong method of application not only lead to tape failure, but increases the potential risk of injury.

Can you guess which of these three common methods is the best one?

Method A: Single Parallel Strip
This method is as simple as it sounds – gather your cable or cables together and apply tape right off the roll starting at one end and pressing it down as you continue to unroll and apply the tape, until you get to the end of the section of cable that needs to be taped down. The end result is a single, long strip of tape applied over top of your cable (s).

Method B: Perpendicular Strips at Intervals
This method requires tearing small strips of gaffer’s tape – about 6 inches long for one cable and slightly longer depending on how many cables you are taping together. To start, apply a perpendicular strip at the end where your cable starts and apply additional perpendicular strips every foot or so along the length of the cable(s). No additional taping is done.

Method C: Perpendicular and Parallel Strips
Start this method by tearing a 6-inch piece of tape (or longer, depending on thickness and quantity of cables you are bundling) and applying it perpendicular at the starting end of your cable. Continue to apply perpendicular strips of the same size every 8-12 inches along the length of the cable(s). Afterwards, go back and apply a long strip overtop of the length of the cable, covering the perpendicular strips you just applied. If your bundle of cables is too wide for one strip to adequately cover it, apply one or more additional strips over the entire length of the cable. Use your hands to wipe down the tape so that it conforms to the cable(s) and adheres well to the flooring (or whatever surface to which you are taping). The result is a well-covered cable or bundle of cables, reinforced with the covered perpendicular strips.


So which application method is best?


Method C! Applying perpendicular strips at intervals underneath your long parallel strip(s) provides additional protection against bumps, kicks, and being walked on. It prevents the cable or bundle of cables from coming loose from under the tape even when subjected to reasonable stress.

If you were to use only perpendicular strips at regular intervals along your cable and not cover those with a parallel strip, as in Method B, it would create a greater tripping hazard as a foot can easily get caught underneath the exposed section of cable and cause a fall. Using a single strip as in Method A is not the worst way you can use gaffer’s tape, but neglecting to put any perpendicular strips will increase the risk of the cable(s) being knocked out of place when kicked and stepped on. If you are pressed for time, even just using two perpendicular strips at either ends of your cable will add additional security.

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