A good sticky tape for fixing/de-branding electronics?
January 8, 2015 3:30 PM   Subscribe

Please help me find a permanent-ish sticky tape that won't seep residue around the edges.

I like debranding my stuff. I have a black camera and a black computer, and I've stuck bits of black tape on the logos. However, some of it has come off (particularly where the computer overheats) and some of it is seeping glue around the edges, which is dirty and doesn't look good.

The tape often falls in places where devices are handled, and I would also use this tape sometimes to fix cracks and defects, so I'd like it to be permanent or, at least, permanent enough in the face of handling and some stress.

This is only a secondary goal, as it's slightly contradictory with the previous one, but here it goes. Bonus points for a sturdy tape that can also be cleaned up with solvent. I run my laptops into the ground, and don't mind reselling or donating them with the tape on, but I'd like the option to clean the tape off, say, a camera, so I can resell it at higher value if I want to switch. So I don't mind a tape that leaves some residue when lifted.

Tapes I've been using so far:

- Gaffer tape. Pros: Removable, cleanable. Cons: Very thick, seeps gunky residue around edges, shows a white outline, and can't withstand heat.

- Electrical tape. Pros: elastic, so can be wrapped/tensioned around curves. Issues: It scrapes off easily, changes shape with time, tensioned tape is stronger than glue, so retracts.

- Sellotape. (Not for debranding, just for fixing). Pros: Very thin, good for flat surfaces if you can help yourself from picking at the edges, and you can make a clean stick. Cons: Rigid, so sucks for wrapping around curves. If there were black opaque sellotape, I'd give it a try.

The problem I'm having now is that my current tape (gaffer) is leaking residue around the patches. It's both messy and unsightly: http://imgur.com/IuFJqxO

Notes on that image:

- Orange tape is for identifying my charger among everybody else's. It's electrical tape, but it's only been there for a month, so I don't know about its lifespan. Also it's not loaded, as I did not stretch it, and nothing under it is broken or uneven.

- Sellotape is sticking back the top of the screen enclosure, which was broken and letting dust in. It's held up for a whole year, I'm impressed.

- Random sticker from local startup is to tell computer from other people's. It's a paper sticker, and it's been there for years without seeping any glue. I'm calling it "control".

- Gaffer tape covering brand names has white halo around.
posted by kandinski to Grab Bag (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Is this one of the things that Sugru might be good for? It's not tape, of course, but it should cover well and stick well and should still peel off nicely if you want it to later.
posted by brainmouse at 3:39 PM on January 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Hi, fellow brand-coverer. Depending on the material and situation, sometimes more liquid solutions work such as plasti-dip or an industrial Sharpie. Plasti-dip is removable in many cases (do research re. the specific surface). I have never found an ideal tape solution for electronics, although I haven't tried as many as you have. My Apple electronics are smoother so can be covered w/ opaque surfaces then skins like GelaSkins.
posted by kalapierson at 3:43 PM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Look for the black version of the tape variously known as "console tape" or "board tape" or "artist's paper tape." It's matte, dyed through, and easily written on with markers or paint. It comes in widths from 1/4" to 2". I'd say that's the closest thing I can think of to "black opaque sellotape."

Another option would be dance floor tape, but that is more glossy.
posted by bgrebs at 4:07 PM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Blackwrap tape is kind of like muffler tape, except it's matte black. It's heat resistant and sticks pretty well. I'm not sure about the sticky residue, but Goof-Off will remove just about anything.
posted by Weeping_angel at 4:34 PM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: A non-sticky charger solution is to wrap it in thread. (Photos)

Are there laptop skins that fit your model? (Basically a big sticker.)

I wonder too if a regular sticker of some sort would be better than tape? I've had some on a computer before and I feel like there's less goo problems.
posted by Crystalinne at 4:39 PM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Instead of tape, you could fill in or cover brand labels with an opaque epoxy like JB Weld, and then file or grind down the dried adhesive to the desired shape and appearance. You'd want to test this out if appearance of the end product matters to you. It won't look perfect, but I suspect it will be about as close as one can get to permanent, short of glue-gunning/melting out the logo.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 4:39 PM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: 3M Super 88 electrical tape is a cut above the average stuff. Don't stretch it too much (or at all, if you can avoid it) and it won't shrink away from the glue.
posted by scruss at 5:01 PM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I use black nail polish. It's been going strong for two years on my phone, so far...
posted by fancyoats at 6:45 PM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for the great ideas, everyone.
posted by kandinski at 7:05 PM on January 8, 2015

Best answer: Seconding 3M Super 88 electrical tape. Great stuff.
posted by exogenous at 9:30 AM on January 9, 2015

Best answer: 3M Super 33+ is not quite as thick as 88 so it's more flexible, and it has better UV resistance.

But I just use 3M gaff tape for blacking out and adding grip to my photo gear, and deal with the slight gunk.
posted by a halcyon day at 10:02 AM on January 9, 2015

Best answer: Home depot sells this stuff called 'liquid tape' that is basically plasti-dip with some heat resistance. It peels/picks off cleanly.
posted by 8dot3 at 10:46 AM on January 9, 2015

Response by poster: Oh, some feedback for the archive.

Many of the recommended tapes are great for things like cameras and home electronics, but not for stuff like laptops, as the top temperature is too low, and laptops regularly heat over 40 degrees Celsius.

Black nail polish is better if you take the time to look for acetone-free, otherwise it can eat into the plastic and leave terrible smudges. As always, test first on a discreet bit on the inside, back or underside of the case.
posted by kandinski at 4:03 AM on April 2, 2015

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