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A Practical Guide to Designing Packing Tape

We can't say enough great things about packing tape. It's a low entry point for customizing your packaging and the design potential is endless. In this guide we get up close and personal with tape from Lumi customers so you can see the colors, printing, and textures of the most common custom tape options.

There are two standard types of packing tape, each with its own distinct texture and printing capabilities:

  • Poly packing tape is made of glossy plastic, and your design is printed on top of a clear or white base. The standard width is 2 inches. It can be used with a standard tape gun. Poly tape can be made from polythelyne or PVC. Polyethylene tape is slightly thinner whereas PVC tape is slightly thicker and best for packages over 25 pounds. PVC is less environmentally friendly, so if you need the extra strength, consider gummed paper tape.
  • Gummed paper tape is made of recycled paper, and your design is printed on top of a white or kraft base. The standard width is 3 inches. It uses a water-activated adhesive, so you will need a special dispenser. For heavier shipping applications, reinforced gummed tape is lined with fiberglass threads. It's best for shipping packages over 30 pounds. The threading also adds extra texture to the look of the tape.


Packing Tape

One-color design on clear: With a clear backdrop, your patterned design appears to be floating on top of your box. 

Design: Sir Mitchell A Practical Guide to Designing Packing Tape

Design: Sir Mitchell


One-color design, reversed out on white: Reverse printing simply means that instead of printing the positive parts of your design, you're printing the negative parts — the background. When you start with a white base, colors appear really vibrant and saturated. On this tape, Rockets of Awesome's cobalt blue is printed full bleed for a bold, edge-to-edge effect.

Design: Rockets of Awesome A Practical Guide to Designing Packing Tape

Two-color design on white: If your two-color design includes a background color, your tape will most likely start with a white base. A white base helps your background color really pop.

Design: QSEE A Practical Guide to Designing Packing Tape

Design: QSEE


One-color design, reversed out on clear: When you reverse your design on a clear base, the color of your box shows through your design. It's simple, but we think it's exciting and a bit unexpected.

Design: ZANNI A Practical Guide to Designing Packing Tape

Design: ZANNI


Gummed Tape

One-color design on kraft: White on kraft is a crowd favorite, just keep in mind that with lighter inks, the kraft color will show through a bit. Full bleed patterns like this one also look great on tape, just keep in mind that there might be a slight margin on one side of the tape. 

Design: Ira Lippke Studios A Practical Guide to Designing Packing Tape

One-color design on white: Just like with packing tape, starting with a white base is a great way to make your print color more bold and vibrant. 

Design: The Ark A Practical Guide to Designing Packing Tape

Design: The Ark


One-color design on reinforced kraft: The threads in reinforced gummed tape add extra texture, and it shouldn't impact the clarity of your design unless you're printing with hairline graphics.

Design: Salmon Sisters A Practical Guide to Designing Packing Tape

One-color design on white, reinforced kraft: This one is a bit of an optical illusion. The design is meant to look like it's reversed out, but really it's a kraft colored ink printed on white! This is often a more affordable option to reverse printing. Depending on your design, it can also give you a better print quality. 

Note that the standard white gummed tape is made on a white paper stock, whereas the reinforced white gummed tape is made on kraft paper stock coated with white ink. That means a slightly less bright white background for the reinforced style.

Design: Tuft & Needle A Practical Guide to Designing Packing Tape

One-color design, reversed on kraft: Reverse printing on kraft can give the illusion that your design is part of the box. We think it's kinda neat.

Design: Wilderness Coffee A Practical Guide to Designing Packing Tape

Two-color design on white: Similar to poly packing tape, many two-color gummed tapes start with a white base to give the colors more vibrancy. For color accuracy, it's best to choose your lighter color as the background.

Design: St. Thomas A Practical Guide to Designing Packing Tape

Design: St. Thomas


One-color, full bleed on white: If you want a solid-colored tape, there are a few stock options, but you could also get a custom job. Choose a Pantone swatch and try a flood coat for a strip of minimal branding on every package.

Design: Artist Endeavor A Practical Guide to Designing Packing Tape

You can mock up any of these tape designs right in our editor. Try your logo on packing tape or gummed tape.

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