Is a washi tape design on the wall above a heater a bad idea?
March 19, 2017 8:00 PM   Subscribe

I have this awkwardly blank wall in my apartment and wanted to put something up on it. I was thinking of a geometric washi masking tape design, something like this. Unfortunately this wall also has a wall-mounted electrical heater embedded in it, a couple of feet from the bottom. Fire hazard?

The heater looks kind of like this and it says not to put anything closer than 3 ft. directly in front of it.

How likely is it that the washi tape design would fall off the wall, fall in front of the heater, catch fire and burn my apartment down? Is it more or less of a fire hazard than hanging a normal picture up there (which I guess could also fall and block the heater)? Do I have to just leave that part of the wall blank?
posted by en forme de poire to Home & Garden (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Alibaba sells non-flammable Washi tape.

(Though apparently in bulk, on review.)
posted by Amor Bellator at 8:22 PM on March 19, 2017

My experience with Washi tape is that it is designed to be removable, and it often falls off by itself. I have never tried to burn Washi tape, but it is essentially made of paper and I think it would combust quite easily. I would not recommend placing it on a wall above an electric heater, especially one that has a warning like the one you describe. Find some other solution for your blank wall.
posted by Winnie the Proust at 8:23 PM on March 19, 2017 [2 favorites]

Could you make the design on posterboard or something, reinforcing it with spray glue or a coating, and then hang that on the wall?
posted by MadamM at 8:48 PM on March 19, 2017

On relative vs perceived risk this is a non- issue, given sourcequence's excellent references and assuming you don't abstain from driving or riding in automobiles. Those things are deadly, tape on walls is fine.
posted by SaltySalticid at 9:05 PM on March 19, 2017

Best answer: The can on that heater is designed to be screwed directly to wood framing. The wall above won't get any hotter than with any other forced air heater. Even if your tape was to fall off and block the intake of the heater they are designed with a high limit switch that will cut out the element well below the ignition point of paper.
posted by Mitheral at 10:15 PM on March 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

Another thing to consider: warm air (e.g. from a hair dryer) is often recommended to help unstick tape from places it's not wanted. Putting a tape design on a wall above a heater seems like a recipe for curly, peeling tape, and the swift ruination of all your design work.
posted by brushtailedphascogale at 12:10 AM on March 20, 2017 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Nthing no hazard at all, but my guess is that the tape will unstick itself from the wall a lot faster than you might hope. Go ahead and make wall art, but don't be heartbroken if it falls apart by next week.
posted by tapir-whorf at 12:20 AM on March 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks guys. Yeah, I'm not worried about the tape in situ at all. The wall doesn't feel particularly warm when the heater is turned on, and I realize it'd have to get extremely hot to ignite. The thing I was mainly concerned about was the tape falling in front of the fan.

Mitheral, that makes a lot of sense, thanks. I've never had one of these forced-air wall heaters before but I can see how the warning might really apply more to putting something big and immobile or with a low flash point too close. Also it occurs to me that the tape is so light it would probably be blown away from the grille, particularly if the (wimpy) adhesive gets less grippy with heat as other people have mentioned.
posted by en forme de poire at 2:19 AM on March 20, 2017

I'd consider just finding a geometric wall decal. They're vinyl and meant to stick more permanently (though they do peel off but you may need to take heat to get them off.) Be sure to prep the wall by washing it and put it on correctly. (I've had a wall decal above my bed on textured walls for over 2 years. Any washi tape I've tried just wants to peel right off after a day.)
posted by Crystalinne at 3:58 AM on March 20, 2017

Response by poster: Update: I put something together a couple weeks ago and it actually seems to be staying up fine, and also hasn't killed me in a fiery conflagration yet. I may put a little additional adhesive on the corners to help keep it up but for now I think it's tentatively okay.
posted by en forme de poire at 12:34 PM on April 19, 2017

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