PVC Electrical Insulation Tape Buyer’s Guide

What does electrical tape do? What is electrical tape made of? 

Electrical tape is used mainly for insulating and repairing damaged or cut cables and wires. It’s used in many applications, from home DIY to commercial wiring installations and repairs. 

When choosing the right electrical tape for the job, there are several things you need to consider. 



Read on to find out more about the different types of electrical tape, how to use it and more. 


What does electrical tape do?

Electrical tape insulates wires to stop them conducting electricity, prevent electric shocks and reduce fire hazards. It protects cables and wires from the elements to stop abrasion, corrosion and UV damage. It also provides protection from chemicals including acids and alkalis.  

It’s also used to keep wires and cables tidy, organised and easily identifiable. It’s most commonly used by electricians. 


What is electrical tape made of?

Electrical tape is made of PVC (polyvinyl chloride), a highly versatile polymer that does not conduct electricity. It is also very flexible, which makes it ideal for use in electrical tape when wrapping around cables.


Why is it called electrical tape?

The full, technically-accurate name for electrical tape is PVC electrical insulation tape. It was given this name because of its material and how it’s used.


When was electrical tape invented?

Electrical tape was invented more than 75 years ago by American inventors Snell, Oace, and Eastwold from The 3M Company. Before they created PVC electrical tape, electricians were using tape made of cotton, which was weak and unreliable for the job it needed to do. 


What is electrical tape used for?

Electricians use PVC insulation tape when adding new installations, or for making repairs. 


It’s mainly used for: 

  • Protective jacketing

  • Insulating wires, cables, connections and connectors to stop them from conducting electricity

  • Making repairs to damaged cable sheathing

  • Harnessing and bundling cables together

  • Sealing and marking cables for identification


Some quirky uses for electrical tape 

There are some surprising and unusual uses for electrical tape, including:


  • Football teams use electrical tape to hold up their socks and keep shin pads in place

  • To protect hockey sticks from moisture build up

  • Making drumsticks more durable, to prevent slippage and splinters

  • For repairing holes in tents when camping

  • Marking where actors should stand in theatre and film productions

  • Arts and crafts projects 


Is PVC tape waterproof?

PVC electrical insulation tape is not waterproof but it does provide some protection against moisture. Electrical tape can’t be fully waterproof because it’s sticky surface would lose adhesion if it became too wet. 


Can electrical tape be used outdoors?

You can use electrical tape outdoors because it is durable, robust and designed to withstand the elements. But it is not guaranteed to keep water out over the long term because it is water-resistant, not waterproof. 


What are the different types of electrical tape?

Electrical tape comes in a variety of colours, lengths and widths. 


The different colours of electrical tape are related to the voltage and phasing of the wires, and their usage depends on the standards of the country. Grey, brown, white and green and yellow striped tape are not used as commonly in the UK as they are internationally. 


The table below shows the features, technical information and usage of each tape. 


Tape colour


Technical information





  • Manufactured using premium grade plasticised PVC film.

  • Flexible with excellent protection against abrasion.

  • Moisture and UV resistant, flame retardant.

  • Suitable for indoor and outdoor use.

  • Available in a range of 3 lengths: 5m, 20m and 33m rolls

  • 19mm width (sold in packs of 10)

  • Material: Premium grade plasticised PVC film

  • Total thickness: 0.15mm (±0.02)

  • Elongation: 125%

  • Tensile Strength: 22 N/10mm

  • Adhesion: Rubber based

  • Adhesion to steel: 2.5N/10mm

  • Adhesion to self: 2.5N/10mm

  • Dielectric Strength: 40 kV/mm

  • Temperature Rating: -18°C to +105°C

  • Flame Retardancy: Self extinguishing

  • Compliance: Conforms to BS EN 60454-2

Insulation / low voltage, neutral

Low voltage phase B


Low voltage, phase B

Sheath, 110 V Site wiring


Low voltage, phase B

Sheath, 415 V 3 phase


Earth (UK old)




Low voltage, phase C






Low voltage, neutral Sheath, 230 V



External applications involving white cordage

Green and yellow stripe




We also sell 50mm wide black and wide white PVC electrical insulation tape for jobs where you need extra width. Our 50mm tape is only sold as singles, whereas our 19mm wide tape is sold in packs of 10. 


Is PVC tape strong?

PVC electrical tape has tensile strength of 22 N/10mm and dielectric strength of 40kV/mm. It can also stretch to 125% of its length. 


How do you apply PVC tape?

Use at least two layers of half-lapped tape to insulate low-voltage components. 


Image source


When wrapping cables, stretch the tape as you go to help it stick better. Use enough tension when applying the tape to make sure it conforms evenly to the surface of the cable. This will provide better insulation than if there is any slack in the tape. Trim the tape and press down the end to avoid the tape lifting. 


Buy GTSE PVC electrical insulation tape


We stock a wide range of low cost PVC electrical insulation tape, available to buy in bulk from £1.79 for 10 rolls. If you have any more questions about electrical tape, or any other products, please get in touch and contact us via live chat, email or telephone.