Hula Hoop Tape Talk With Sue Wilkinson

Hula Hoop TapeWe asked Sue Wilkinson at Fancy Tapes in the UK to give us a run down on different tape options for all of you New Year, New You hoopers out there that are making your first hoops and don’t really know which tape to buy. So here is the break down on hula hoop tapes and how they work on a hoop from a woman who really knows her tape.

Vinyl: Upside – It’s hard wearing and will stand wet conditions, is wipeable for cleaning, cheap, and comes in lots of widths and colours – as well as clear for protection. Vinyl tape is conformable to cope with taping a curved, round object
. Downside – Because it’s conformable it can be harder to hold the pattern steady as you tape and little gaps can increase and decrease. It can be quite slippery.

Electrical tape: Upside – It’s highly conformable because that’s what it’s made to do, and it’s colourful, cheap, and has a nice feel to it. It’s easy to use with a bit of practice, lightweight, and can be used to great effect as a “base coat” on the hoop with other tapes forming the pattern over the top of it leaving some exposed. Very good for forming a banded pattern, rather than a candy cane twist.
 Downside – It’s hard to hold the spacing because it is so conformable. It’s also not very thick so it can be easily damaged.

Colour coding/harness tapes: Upside – Again, this type of tape is highly conformable and brightly coloured. Easy to use. Perfect for banded patterns. Some of these tapes are sold for their food grade safety properties, meaning you can be sure if a child puts the hoop in their mouth the tape won’t harm them (although the thing the hoop was last in contact might though!) 
Downside – It’s quite thin as well, so it really needs to be overlaid for depth of colour. It can also be hard to hold the pattern because of its conformability.

Cloth based tapes (Gaffer, Camouflage, Hockey…): Upside – These tapes are hard wearing, more expensive, come in big rolls with lots of widths and colours available, are wipeable to some extent, conformable – which means it can be stretched and pulled to maintain the twist on the tape around a piece of tube. They’re also grippy
 providing greater traction for your hoop. Downside – Because they’re conformable, it can be harder to hold the pattern steady as you tape and gaps can increase and decrease. They can get dirty easily and will peel at the ends if it gets too wet, although it will often stick back down when dry if you don’t contaminate the glue with dirt when it is wet.

Glow in the dark tape: Upside – It’s good quality tape made for industrial purposes so it is quite thick. Will charge fully in about 10 minutes of strong light and glow for hours. The high intensity tape is yellow to look at and glows green, a great first “glow” hoop in my opinion. The outdoor glow tape is stiffer, not as bright, but will last longer. It’s white to look at and glows green.
 Downside – These tapes are stiff to wrap, 1/2″ wide is easier than 1″ wide, and the indoor variety can crack and split. It will damage if used harshly. The outdoor variety is very stiff and thick.

Duct tape: Upside – Top quality duct tape such as Pro Gaff will give you grip on the hoop for a reduced price compared to that of the gaffer tape and will peel off cleanly when necessary and not leave glue behind. Quality duct tape will not twist and stick to itself as you work with it either. It is shiny and has a sticky feel to the surface which provides grip as well. Quality duct tape is highly conformable, comes in bright colours and it is cheap. It’s a grippy alternative to vinyl.
 Downside – Tt looks cheaper! the surface is softer than gaffer tape too so it can damage more readily on harsh surfaces than gaffer tape. Cheaper duct tapes are horrible and will shred when you try to remove them leaving very sticky glue all over the pipe that takes a long time to remove. Avoid cheap duct tape! It’s just not worth it.

Sparkle tapes (Holographic, Prismatic, Mirror – and to some extent Glitter): Upside – These tapes are in a category of their own in some ways because they have instant bling! The peel off backing is easy to remove and work with once you have practiced a bit. It should be the first tape laid down on the hoop and care should be taken to overlap the edges of the sparkle tape with another tape (cloth or vinyl) to protect it from snagging, splitting or tearing.
 Downside – These tapes are fragile. They are not tough and are not really suitable for beginners who are dropping the hoop all the time, and are certainly not suitable for use on harsh surfaces like concrete, gravel, tarmac. They used to be considered the pinnacle for performance hoops, only now that they are more readily available everyone wants the bling straight away. These tapes are not very conformable and it will be harder to maintain your pattern. You have to pull them just enough to stretch a little, but not too much so that do not snap. Use your thumb on the back of the tape to keep them flat as you work to prevent creases and air bubbles.

Glitter tape: Upside – Glitter is different in that it is a vinyl tape with glitter stuck to the back of it. It will stretch more easily than the other sparkle tapes, but if you need to peel it back to reposition it you will leave the glitter behind on the pipe – and you will have to cut the spoiled piece of tape out and join on with a fresh piece. They stand knocks and scrapes better than the other sparkle tapes. Downside – They are not as flashy. Probably the best tape to use for bling on regularly used class hoops though, if you want class hoops with sparkle that will last.

Slick gloss vinyl tapes: Upside – It’s stiff vinyl tape with a very shiny surface. They should be used in the same way you would use a sparkle tape – laid on first with the edges bound. They are very colourful and cheap. Downside – They can split, they are fragile in the same way a sparkle tape is fragile, and they are slippy.

Clear vinyl tape: Upside – This can be used to cover the prismatic, holographic and mirror tapes for added protection which will extend the life of the tape considerably.
 Downside – It will make the hoop heavier and it dulls the sparkle to some extent too.

The perfect beginner hoop is a simple mix of cloth tapes, or perhaps a mix with some vinyl. Or a mix of quality duct tape and vinyl. The perfect class hoop is probably completely cloth or a mix of some vinyl and lots of cloth. They will last long and help the student to learn how to grip the hoop. The Intermediate hoopers hoop can be more vinyl and less gaffer with perhaps a little sparkle.

31 thoughts on “Hula Hoop Tape Talk With Sue Wilkinson

  1. Thanks for this! I had made a few with duct tape and electrical tape that I don’t care if I destroy. But the duct tape and electrical tape is so soft that anything your hoop hits will scrape a hole into the tapes. it is hard to wrap the duct tape brand tape because of the width of the tape, you can take a exacto knife and cut it down the middle to make it easier.

  2. In U.S. most electrical tapes in hardware stores and chain stores no longer contain lead. Check the package label. It will say “lead free”. If it doesn’t than it’s most likely imported.

  3. Hi Remarkable Sue!

    Oh, this takes me back! I remember spending weeks and weeks and tons of dollars learning the particulars of each tape … and sorting out a taping technique that worked for me. In the end, we narrowed down the perfect formula for us at Superhooper.

    But here’s a tip beginners may not know — for ALL metallic, glitter, etc. tapes – cut into 8 – 10 inch strips. Each wrap mysteriously minutely changes trajectory and must be individually and marginally corrected. This will be easier if you don’t try to wrap the whole hoop in one fell swoop. Thank you, Barry Clement, for that nugget of knowledge. Without it, I would have never gotten it right.

    For EVERY kind of tape, smooth it down HARD with your thumb as you wrap to avoid bubbles. Especially with vinyl and gaff. Wrap tighter (giver yourself more room) than you think you’ll need – to allow for overlap. You’ll make this more exact with time.

    If you’re just starting out, be patient with yourself. Each new tape takes time to learn and get comfortable with. Wrapping hoops is an ART … not a science. HAVE FUN, make something beautiful, sit back, and enjoy!

    1. Now that I’ve learned how to make hoops, taping is what I am now working on! I am so inspired by everything I read. These tips are so amazing! I have also wasted tons of money on tape and hope to one day craft my skills to tape as beautifully as I see others do!

  4. Regarding lead in electrical tape, it is much less the case than it used to be, but it does exist. Most electrical tape originates out of China, but they produce both lead free and “uncertain” quality tape. It will say if it is lead free, but not all electrical tape comes wrapped with a label. So you need to be sure of where it is coming from and the suppliers information on this subject.

    None of the electrical tapes sold by Identitape or Fancy Tapes contain lead. Both web sites provide this information. They also provide other information regarding the safety of tape. It’s not just the lead to watch for, but some colours and glues. This is why, side by side, some rolls of tape appear a lot more costly than an equivalent. Because it is manufactured to higher standards.

  5. Duct tape can be very easy to work with. I rip as I go. Start with a scissors and cut the width you want to wrap with in the beginning. Half of the original width or thinner. Then you take the whole roll and start wrapping, ripping the width as you go. As I come around the hoop I rip down and that makes the edge smooth and even. I can rip it to very thin, 1/4″. The initial width or duct tape is way too wide to wrap with. It takes a very long time, is not as flexible and bubbles a lot. Hope this helps. Thanks for the different tape explanations. I learned the hard way to wrap with the holographic tape first and then with electrical or duct tape over it. It doesn’t give like the others and will really mess up your hoop if you try to wrap with it second. I found that cutting it different sizes, (the thinner sizes), make it easier to work with if you want to add some accent bling on top! The camouflage tape can be rough on the hands. I don’t like to wrap it on the hoops that I hand hoop with. Happy wrapping!

  6. Even the vinyl electrical tape at Home Depot & Lowe’s are made in USA and state they are lead free. I would ALWAYS recommend sticking with USA (or EU) made tapes (ask!!!) because of the lead, etc. standards. This is something in constant contact with our skin, not on a wire under the house! Vinyl is still VINYL, which has its own environmental consequences.

    What’s the word on some sort of new eco-friendly (non-petroleum) pipe? I’ve heard rumors…

    1. julie, definitely put the deco tape down first if that’s what you have and make sure the edges of the deco tape are covered. After that its really up to you, though I like to end with gaffer tape because it sticks to the body better.

  7. Juest replying to: “But here’s a tip beginners may not know — for ALL metallic, glitter, etc. tapes – cut into 8 – 10 inch strips.”

    I would like to state that a quality hoop also has glitter tape done in 1 or two strokes. There are so many advantages to this & probably this is the standard procedure of most (?) hoop-makers? Easiness of this depends on angle of taping and pattern / design and tune wideness (I tape mainly 20 and 25 mm – 3/4 and 1 inch or something). When covering a whole hoop with holographic tape, you could choose an impossible, or easy way.

    About the suggesting to smooth hard with thumb; in my experience this is only needed when angle is not perfect while taping. Sometimes late a constant need. But surely not when freshly taping 25mm hoops; 20 sometimes a little harder / I use thumb for constant check; NOT a constant fix of angle

  8. Tape does not mysteriously change trajectory – it can smoothly go round if you use a constant pressure (while rolling from roll) to compensate for the minor trajectory-change caused by the roundness of hoop – maybe impossible for some diameters; works fine for me for 60..120cm 20/25mm hoops.

    1. I was wondering the same thing! I saw an ad so I went to a site that sold Washi tape, but I couldn’t figure out what texture it was or what type of tape it was… It comes in so many awesome colors! You might be able to at least do some cut outs and cover them with clear vinyl or something. I think it’s fairly thin tape.

  9. I am also interested in using washi tape, I realise this post is old but this is the only discussion I can seem to find online which links washi tape to hoop making. I found a small amount in my local craft shop, so I will test it out and leave another reply to let others know in the case that they find this post for the same reasons I did.

    I will say my first reaction is that it looks quite thin and transparent, so may scuff easily. Although after unrolling a bit it feels surprisingly strong, apparently the true Japanese washi tape is made from bamboo and is pretty durable. You can get replica stuff made in china which is, from what I can find out, made from a cheaper material and is less tough.

    From a hoop decorating perspective, the transparency may make things more complicated, for instance I use MDPE tubing which comes in a sky blue colour, which will dull down the tape when on the hoop. I think I can make it work by laying down some white electrical tape as a base and then laying down the washi tape. I guess you could also add some clear vinyl tape as protection from scuffs and dirt as well, taking into account how heavy the hoop may become overall when finished.

    It all seems like a lot of effort, but I will give it a go. The results may be worth all the work!

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