How to clean & prepare a surface before applying 3M VHB Tape

Getting the maximum results from your 3M VHB tape is a simple process, yet the preparation often gets skipped in order to speed up a job. This can lead to poor tape performance in some circumstances and as a result, unsatisfied customers. And nobody wants that.

Ensuring the surface is clean & dry and applying the right amount of pressure does not take a long time or strenuous amounts of effort. Ensuring the temperature is right at the time of application can be a little tricky but we have some tips to help there too.

Cleaning the surface
In the majority of cases, a simple mixture of one-part isopropyl alcohol (IPA) to one-part water will adequately clean the surface. Some exceptions include heavy oil/grease and heavy dirt/oxidation.

In the case of heavy oil/grease, you may wish to use a degreaser or solvent-based cleaner after cleaning with the IPA/water mixture to remove more stubborn patches.

Alternatively, in the case of heavy dirt/oxidation, by abrading the surface after cleaning with the IPA/water mixture, this can help remove the troublesome areas.

Preparing the surface
Although not strictly necessary, there are several ways you can prepare the surface to improve the tape’s adhesive properties.

Adhesion promoters work across a range of surfaces including paints and plastics whilst porous surfaces such as wood & concrete should always be sealed as to provide a level surface for adhesion.

Some surfaces such as glass, copper and plastics/rubber that contain migrating components all require special surface preparation in order to maximise the tapes adhesive properties also.

Applying the right amount of pressure
To achieve a strong adhesion, good adhesive contact through a firm application is the way forward. Around 15psi is the optimum level of pressure that can typically be achieved using a roller or platen pressure.

As a side note, it has been recorded that a rigid surface can require up to 2/3 times more pressure in order for the tape to experience the equivalent of 15psi.

Applying at the right temperature
Typically, the optimal temperature when applying the tape is between 21oC and 38oC although minimum application temperatures can vary depending on tape family. These can be summarised as

  • 15oC – tape families 4945 and 4941
  • 10oC – tape families 4622, 4611, 4910, 4950, 4952 and 5952
  • 0oC – tape family 4951

Applying the tape in temperatures below those stated above is not recommended due to the adhesive becoming too firm too quickly. Once applied, however, the temperature can fall below these temperatures once a strong adhesion has been established.

After application
Once the tape is applied, the adhesion will naturally increase as time passes. This is caused by adhesion flowing onto the surface and covering a larger surface area.

The temperature after adhesion can also quicken or slow down this process with higher temperatures shortening the time taken to achieve maximum adhesive strength.


And there you have it, how to get the strongest adhesive bond from your 3M VHB tape. Not as hard or as laborious as it seems. Quick simple methods to do a quality job. Job done.

To check out our range of 3M VHB tape, click here.