As a seller of multiple grades of reflective tape, I often ask people what kind of quality reflective tape are they purchasing and I often get the answer “I dunno, we just buy reflective tape when we need it.”  Most buyers don’t know or even really care.  However, almost without exception they usually have a horror story of tape-gone-bad and resulting unhappy customers.  So…..it’s very important to watch what kind of reflective tape you do purchase and to be aware of the quality differences.

    Reflective tape is required by law on any truck or trailer over 10,000 pounds and over 80” wide, and it must have the DOT-C2 label printed on it.    You have to have it installed!  And if you don’t, you can be ticketed.  So make sure you install good reflective tape.   We have all seen severely faded or peeling reflective tape on trailers.   Here are some tips to help you with your purchase of reflective tape.

    All reflective tape should come with a warranty. Ask your seller if they aren’t telling you what it is.  Typically it’s 3, 5, 7 or 10-year warranty.  The biggest enemy of reflective tape is not water (as everyone thinks it is). It’s sunlight.  And so the higher quality grades of reflective tape have a much higher level of UV inhibitors in the topcoat of reflective tape.  And please note! This extra UV coating is not thicker, or visible to the naked eye.  It’s something added into the topcoat on reflective tape in the manufacturing process. So everyone always wants to get samples of different grades to feel them – you can’t tell the difference.  It’s in the coating.

    I also get a lot of people commenting on the thickness of the reflective tape.  Again, don’t be fooled by this.  Some of the best quality reflective tape out there is thinner and very flexible.  This makes it great for installing over rivets or around corners.  Thicker tape does not automatically mean a better grade of tape.  Of course, there are thicker tapes and thinner tapes on the market, you are free to purchase what feels best.

    A decidedly less scientific test for reflective tape quality is the “gas test”.  Simply take several strips of regular DOT red and white reflective tape from different suppliers and rub them vigorously with a rag dipped in gasoline.  Gasoline dissolves most plastics and this is a great way to see how long the topcoat on any reflective tape will withstand this treatment.  You might be surprised – high priced tape can fail this test quite quickly.

    Another test is to take several strips of reflective tape and bend them back and forth rapidly almost to the folding point.  Watch the topcoat layers and inner reflective material layers in the tape.  Are they separating?  If so, this is another sign of poor quality reflective tape fabrication.

    If you’d like to see a full range of free samples of DOT-C2 reflective tape at various price points just reach out to Briargate Supply at briargatesupply.com and we’ll be happy to send them out for your review.

    Leave a comment

    Required fields are marked *