CB21-052 - how to make washi tape stick better

How to make washi tape stick better

How do you make washi tape stick better?

Make washi tape stick better by cleaning the adhering surface or increasing the temperature of the adhesive. You can make the tape’s adhesive stick better with double-sided tape, using adhesive on the backside, or making the surface stickier.

This article explores making washi tape stick better, both for temporary decorations and more permanent projects. You’ll find everything from a ‘quick-fix’ checklist to several methods for ensuring your washi tape stays as long as you want.

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Why Does Washi Tape Not Stick Better?

Washi tape is meant to be a low-tack option for projects such as painting surfaces, scrapbooking, or temporary decorations. While it’s meant to be somewhat durable, even the sturdiest washi tape isn’t meant to be permanent. It’s meant to come off easily and quickly with little-to-no damage.

Washi tape is a Japanese painter’s tape known for its myriad colors and designs. It’s not known for being a permanent decoration.

There are several things you can check, according to adhesive experts. Age, storage conditions, surface types, and handling can all reduce the adhesiveness of your tape.


Even if stored in perfect conditions, the old tape will lose some of its sticking power. If you’ve had a particular roll of washi tape for a while, this may be the problem, especially if you’ve had no trouble with it before.

Storage Conditions

Storage conditions can affect your tape’s adhesiveness. Exposure to too much heat or cold can damage the tape and make it stick less well.

Overexposure to sunlight can also sometimes degrade the adhesive in certain types of tape.

Increase your tape’s lifespan by storing it in a dark, temperature-controlled environment.


Sometimes it’s a simple matter of not applying enough pressure or applying pressure for the necessary length of time. Tape takes time to stick to any surface. Applying uneven pressure can reduce adhesion to certain areas.

Surface Composition

Some things just aren’t made to have adhesives attached to them. Items like PVC or concrete are naturally harder to adhere to.

Uneven surfaces can also make sticking your tape in place more difficult.

Accidental Contamination of adhesive

Over the day, our hands naturally pick up oils, dirt, dust, or other small particles. Even if you don’t notice anything, these things might contribute to a lack of sticking power for your washi tape.

Try washing your hands thoroughly and letting them air dry before applying your tape. This can be especially helpful if you have trouble making the ends adhere.

How to Make Washi Tape Stick Better?

Washi tape may not stick because of temperature, dust particles, or moisture interfering with the adhesive. Tray cleaning the surface or increasing the temperature of the tape to soften the adhesive.

Clean The Surface

Wash the surface you want to apply the washi tape to with warm water and a bit of soap. Remove excess moisture and allow to dry thoroughly.

Once it’s dry, try reapplying your washi tape to see if the adhesive strength has improved.

A high-moisture environment can sometimes affect the stickiness of your washi tape. If you’re decorating an area like a bathroom, make sure there is good airflow and minimal moisture before you begin.

Some crafters advise cleaning with rubbing alcohol to be sure. Allowing alcohol to vaporize can theoretically prime the surface for adhesive.

Increase temperature of adhesive

Sometimes, the temperature can affect the adhesive properties of washi tape. High temperatures will soften the adhesive and reduce its effectiveness. Cold can prevent the adhesive from bonding correctly to a surface.

If you suspect temperature is the problem, wait for it to change. Or you can use DIY temperature adjustments, like a hairdryer for added warmth or a fan for cooling.

Live in an area with extreme temperatures or humidity. You may have to wait for specific conditions or take steps to isolate your work area from the environmental conditions.

How Do I Make Washi Tape More Adhesive?

To add stickiness to washi tape, you can add adhesive, such as a glue stick to the washi tape. Other methods for making the tape more adhesive include using double-sided tape or making the adhesive surface stickier.

Adding Adhesive to Washi Tape

Some crafters recommend using a glue stick or other glue product to enhance the stickiness of your washi tape.

While both the glue and washi tape may be low-tack, they may have more sticking power working together.

Use double-sided tape

Other crafters recommend supplementing your washi tape with double-sided tape of greater adhesive strength. This can work well, but be careful if you’re worried about damaging your project or work surface.

Another suggestion is to use washi tape to decorate other, higher-strength tape. Washi tape sticks well to different types of tape and can be used for a layered effect.

Creating An Adhesive Surface

If you want to apply washi tape to a whole surface, you might try making the surface deliberately sticky. 

There are many ways to do this:

  1. Apply and remove a layer of higher-tack adhesive that will leave a residue.
  2. Slow-drying or spoiled shellac
  3. Tree sap or resin of some kind, dissolved in mineral spirits or rubbing alcohol.
  4. Boiled chewing gum

This might not work for decorating walls or scrapbooking, but it can be a helpful trick for other projects, like decorating boxes.

Make Washi Tape Stick to a Wall For a Long Time

If you’re using washi tape as a decorative accent and want to ensure it stays in place, consider caulking. This can be especially helpful on textured walls.

  1. Apply your washi tape to a clean, dry surface.
  2. Apply a thin line of paintable caulk along the edge and smooth it out.
  3. Blend the caulk into the wall with a bit of touch-up paint once it’s dry.

If you want to remove it later, peel free gently.

How to make Washi Tape to Be a Permanent Fixture?

If you want your Washi tape additions to be permanent, the best thing to do is seal it. Use a decoupage medium, mod podge, or even varnish to seal your decoration in place.

How Do I Know Which Sealant to Use?

When it comes to washi tape, the tape itself is reasonably versatile. Your best bet is to make your choice based on the surfaces you’re working on.

For wood surfaces, varnish or wood glue might be most appropriate.

For a scrapbook or papercraft, you may want to consider some form of decoupage medium. This also works on alternative surfaces, like glass or cell phone case material.

For adding accents to furniture, any decoupage medium or sealant will work. Another option is an acrylic sealer or even paint.

Do I Apply To Sealant the Edges or Over the Entire Taped Section?

Apply sealant to the edges of the washi tape if you want to be able to easily remove it in the future. Apply sealant to the back section of the tape for a permanent solution.

Summary: How to make washi tape stick better

As you can see, washi tape is not meant to be a permanent tape and therefore, uses a weaker adhesive. Age, storage conditions, pressure, surface composition, and accidental contamination of adhesive can negatively affect the tape’s stickiness.

Make washi tape stick better by increasing the temperature of the adhesive or cleaning the surface you’re sticking to. You can make the adhesive more sticky by using double-sided tape, adding adhesive, or making the adhering surface more sticky.

You can make washi tape more permanent or stick to walls better by adding adhesive along the edges of the tape. Caulking works well for walls, varnish or wood glue for wood, and decoupage for paper or furniture.