We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is Electrical Tape?

By A. B. Kelsey
Updated Feb 25, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Invented by 3M in 1946, electrical tape is a pressure-sensitive adhesive used to insulate electrical wires and other materials that conduct electricity. This tape is made in a variety of plastics, but vinyl is the most common because it has the best stretching ability, making it more effective to create long lasting insulation. True electrical tape must be certified to not catch fire or burn when overheated.

Although electrical tape comes in a variety of colors, electricians use basic black the most often. Black is an all-purpose color that doesn't indicate anything special about wires. It is also the most resistant to ultraviolet (UV) radiation damage, so this color is usually used on wires that will be exposed to direct sunlight.

Professional electricians use other colors to indicate the phase of the wire, the voltage level, and the purpose of the wire. Neutral wires are marked with light grey or white tape. Ground wires are indicated by using tape that is green or green with yellow stripes. Colored tape is also used to label the phases on a three-phase system, note the start of a wire in a conduit so the other end is easy to find, and mark cables that need to be unhooked so they can be easily hooked back up later.

Electrical tape is usually applied to exposed wires by spinning the roll around the wire in the direction that the tape comes off the roll. This applies light tension, which keeps the tape tight on the wires. The tape needs to be wrapped tightly so there are no gaps where moisture can seep in. If there is too much tension, however, it will be stretched too far and will loosen as it pulls back to its normal state.

Most brands of electrical tape can be torn by hand, although some brands have a dispenser with a built-in cutter. Still others require the use of scissors or a knife.

Because this tape is stretchy and comes in a variety of colors, people have found a wide variety of non-electrical uses for the tape. Stagehands, for example, often use electrical tape to secure stage lighting cables, and actors use it to mark their positions on the stage during rehearsals.

Electrical tape is also used by athletes. Players on rugby teams have been known to tape their ears back to prevent cuts and abrasians. Cricket players will wrap it around tennis balls to create makeshift cricket balls. Some athletes have even used this type of tape to keep their shinguards from slipping.

Musicians have their own uses for the tape. Drummers in marching bands use colored tape to wrap their drum sticks, which not only makes the sticks more durable, but also makes them look flashy and cool when they play. Many musicians also wrap their fingers before a long jam session or performance so they don’t get blisters.

Electrical tape can be used in the home as well. Organized people often use the tape for color coding and labeling purposes. Artistic folks have been known to use it to create unconventional yet aesthetically pleasing wall art and sculptures. Some people even use the tape to replace the stickers on their Rubik's Cube®. As a quick fix, it can even be used as a temporary bandage.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.