There’s nothing more annoying than tape that doesn’t do its job. When it fails to stick to a box, there’s an increased risk of product damage and theft. And depending on the type of box you’re using (and there really are so many types!), packing tape not sticking to boxes can be (at the least) a nuisance or, at worst, an outright disaster. Let’s look at the common problems that might be affecting your packing efforts, and the actions you can take to correct them.

You’re using the wrong type.

Not all tape is created with the same purpose in mind. When it comes to packaging, carton sealing and water-activated tapes are specifically made for sealing corrugated boxes. No other types should be used.

And, even when using carton sealing tape, it must be applied properly. Hand tape is the most common form of packing tapes and is normally applied with hand-held dispensers. Machine tape comes in much larger roll sizes and is specially made to be put in semi-automatic and automatic dispensers. If you’re misapplying hand or machine tape, it may not stick as well as you want it to.

Many companies need to keep multiple tape styles on hand—for electrical work, makeshift repairs, and even painting—and each one should only be used for its specific job. Setting reminders in your work areas will ensure the everyone applies the right tape to the right materials, preventing needless waste and supply costs.

Your packing tape is old.

It may not be a natural creation, but packing tape only lasts for so long. Its liner can dry out over time, becoming brittle and cracked, while its adhesive can turn into a gummy texture and become useless.

A good way to avoid old packing tape is to only buy as much tape as you immediately need. When you re-order other packaging supplies, add more packing tape to the list.

Some companies like to buy in bulk, and while we don’t suggest the practice, we do have some tips for avoiding old packaging tape. Keep it in the best of storage conditions—sheltered from heat, sunlight and overly dry areas. And create a system where the oldest tape is used first.

You’re using water-activated tape.

Water-activated tape is the most effective tape for carton sealing. Its adhesive bonds the tape to the box, providing a secure and tamper-resistant seal. However, the adhesive must be wet or it won’t stick at all. Using a water-activated tape dispenser can make this process even easier.

TPC Tip: Ensure your dispenser’s water chamber is properly filled before use. Otherwise, your machine may not wet the tape enough.

You’re sending boxes somewhere cold.

Regular carton sealing tape is fine for standard shipping temperatures. But if you’re sending a package somewhere cold, this tape likely won’t cut it. Cooler temperatures can render adhesive inert and prevent it from keeping a box sealed. Using cold temperature tape is your best choice in this situation, as it has the unique ability to remain pliable even in low and frigid temperatures. Refrigerated warehouses and outdoor storage facilities will benefit from cold temperature tape, too.

You’re shipping something cold.

Maybe it’s not the location, but the shipment itself that’s cold. Perishable items like cheese, steak and medication need to be kept cool throughout their journey (using cold packs and insulated shipping kits). Cold temperature tape, using the H-tape method, is a smart way to ensure those shipments stay closed.

Instead of just taping the middle seal, the H-tape method involves taping all seams on the top and bottom of the box (so the tape makes the shape of an H). This maximizes protection and helps keep the cooler air trapped for longer.

You’re shipping somewhere humid.

Just as the cold can make regular tape ineffective, overly humid areas can do the same. Humidity in the air can affect adhesive and cause the tape to separate from a box. Using water-activated tape creates a sealed bond and eliminates moisture as an issue.

Packing tape not sticking to boxes? Follow this 3-step plan:

  1. Look at your shipping journey: identify environments that can influence adhesion (cold temperatures or heavy humidity) and switch to the appropriate tape.
  2. Look at your storage habits: check if your tape’s old (or improperly stored) and adjust your ordering and storing practices.
  3. Look at your tape’s application: use carton-sealing or water-activated tape for sealing boxes and ensure other tapes are used only for their intended purpose.

Sometimes the only thing sticky about your tape is the situation it puts you in!

When you’re in the middle of a high-volume project, packing tape not sticking to boxes can be a supreme hassle. But, with these tips (including our 3-step plan), you’ve got all the info you need to choose the right tape for your situation. When you’re ready to stock up, be sure to stop by our tape category for all your carton sealing (and special project) needs.