Chandlery February 2018 Issue

Unsung Hero: Aluminum Tape

Nashua Tape
There are many varieties of aluminum tape, our favorite is Nashua Tape #324A.

Duct tape, parachute cord, and cable ties. We carry a boat full of tools and spare parts, but these three make every sailor’s list of indispensables for temporary repairs. We’ve reviewed conventional duct tape (“If you Can’t Duct it, Tough Duct it,” Practical Sailor, December 2009), self-bonding tapes (“Atomic Tape,” PS, December 2005), and gaffers tape, but somehow skipped over foil duct tape. It does a few things ordinary duct tape just can’t.

Sealing Stink. While testing sanitation hoses (“Marine Sanitation Hose Test,” PS April 2013) we learned that a wrapping of foil tape reliably blocked odor. While not the preferred cure for failing hoses, gases simply can’t go through metal, no matter how thin. This is why Mylar balloons stay inflated for months—a mere 0.5 micron aluminum coating is all that is needed to render the plastic impermeable to the smallest of gas molecules—helium.

Sealing Paint Cans. A tightly sealed lid is best, but if the rim is dented or gummed-up, or if you simply want a little extra protection for your $200-per-gallon bottom paint, a tight wrap of foil duct tape will retain the solvents just as securely as a factory seal. Solvents go through vinyl duct tape.

Ducts. Conventional tape is superior where you need some stretch—sealing the cover of an insulated flexible AC duct to an outlet fitting, for example. But when fabricating the ducts themselves and sealing flanges between sections, rigid non-stretch support and complete impermeability to moisture are better. Quality aluminum tape is a permanent solution.

Because it is non-stretch, it is most effective on smooth and regular surfaces, where it can be applied carefully and without wrinkles. For sealing cans, wrap the rim smoothly, and then bend it over while circling in one direction.

Maybe you don’t need to keep this one on the boat, but it should certainly be in your tool bag at home.

Comments (7)

Great tips! I've used this for years in the Marine industry with great success. The adhesive is ... well, as you said "permanent" with exception to fuel and chemical. Though I've not tried this: I suspect it would work well to shield noise from sensitive electronics as well. With the addition of a bare shield wire and appropriate techniques, it may prove quite versatile. Great stuff!

Posted by: Mystic | February 18, 2018 10:05 PM    Report this comment

For sealing paint cans, first clean the groove and lid then tap the Lind on tight. Then store the can upside down. No air can get in and no solvents can get out if the can is upside down.

Posted by: Scuppers The Sailor Dog | February 18, 2018 7:42 PM    Report this comment

Al tape resists sunlight way better than cloth duct tape although the adhesive does break down over the years. Gotta say pvc electrical tape does an amazing job of resisting sun light

Posted by: catatonic | February 18, 2018 5:56 PM    Report this comment

Self-fusing high temp silicone tape for sealing fuel & water hose leaks!

Posted by: Tayana 37 | February 18, 2018 5:08 PM    Report this comment

Just as you described earlier, Bloxygen can be very effective at preserving all sorts of oil-based finishes and varnishes. In all cases, however, a good, tight seal is important. We also sell tools to clean the groove in the paint can to prevent leaks. See the earlier Practical Sailor write-up on Bloxygen from April 26, 2017.

Posted by: BloxygenBoy | February 18, 2018 4:24 PM    Report this comment

helium or hydrogen?

Posted by: Inspiration | February 18, 2018 4:09 PM    Report this comment

Great tip on sealing paint cans! Details such as this make PS a great resource.

Posted by: Jack Schmidt | January 23, 2018 12:51 PM    Report this comment

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