What Is Washi Tape? Is It Similar To Normal Adhesive Tape?

You can see different terms for washi tape throughout the site, such as decorative tape, cute paper tape, decorative adhesive tape, deco tape, masking tape, washi masking tape, washi adhesive tape, etc.

What is washi tape? Is it similar to normal adhesive tape? | What is washi tape used for | Washi tape for beginners | What's washi tape | Washi tape blog | Washimagic.com

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I’ll use different names interchangeably, and they all mean the same thing here – washi tapes.

Note: Please click here to read the different types of washi tape.

Normal masking tape vs cute washi tape | All about washi tape | Pretty decorative tape | Washimagic.com

Though the materials used may be different, one common thing is that you can find beautiful colors, patterns, textures, and designs printed on these masking tapes.

Washi is 和紙 (和 means Japanese and 紙 means paper).  It is a kind of paper made using fiber from the bark of the gampi tree or other alternatives like bamboo, rice, wheat, and hemp.  Find more information here.

Have you used any normal masking tapes before?

As you can see below, these are the tapes I use in the house… yellow masking tape, transparent tape, double-sided tape, black tape, and cellophane tape (black tape is not in the picture).

General masking tapes that we use in the house and office | Washimagic.com
Common masking tapes

I’m really not a tape person, and I will try to avoid using any sort of tape whenever possible.  Just don’t like the stickiness.  I remembered I had a skinny double-sided tape used for some craft projects.

Because the width is skinny and sticky, I had a problem removing the white paper of the tape after sticking it on one side.  It didn’t help much, even if I used tweezers.  I almost wanted to throw it into the dustbin!

On the other hand, the cellophane tape and transparent tape will turn yellowish over time.  I can always see yellow stains/spots found on the wall or paper.  Of course, there are many better-quality tapes for different purposes, and the price tags are high.

Since our purpose of getting the general masking tapes is to cover things up, for example, when something is spoiled or used it like glue, we buy the normal ones, and the prices are certainly the cheapest possible.

The adhesive tapes (from the picture above) that I like to use are 3m Scotch double-sided tape and the yellow paper tape on the left (or beige?  Not sure what the real name is).

The common characteristic for both of these tapes is that I can tear them by hand, just in case I can’t find any scissors or just don’t feel like using any cutter!

Before encountering decorative washi tapes

My dad likes to use yellow paper tape if he finds any spoiled or broken items in the house. He’d use the yellow tape to write and stick on the things to let us know to be careful.

Write some text on the yellow paper tape | Washimagic.com
Write something on the yellow paper tape

Similarly, he also likes to put a date on all sorts of things when we start using something.  For example, he’d write the date and stick it on the bottle of the peanut butter jam so that we could trace how long it takes to finish the jam.  Or, stick the tape on the wall and put a date after changing the light bulb.  Hence, we all know how long the bulb can last!

So I think it’s rather useful.  You can see the yellow paper tape has high usage.

Let’s come back to the initial question…


What is washi tape?  What is it for?

Why do I talk about all these general masking tapes?

I’d say washi tape is similar to those adhesive tapes we usually see.  Both of them are tapes, right?

If your friends were to ask you… what exactly is deco tape?  You can tell them it’s similar to general masking tapes like what you use in the house or office.

Displaying some beautiful colorful fun washi tapes | Washimagic.com
Different types of little yet pretty masking tapes

However, washi tape is much more different in terms of material, stickiness, and functionality, such as the following:


  • Made from Japanese washi paper
  • Thin enough to tear off by hand yet strong enough to adhere
  • Re-use the tape because it’s easy to peel and reposition


  • Work on almost all surfaces though oily, dusty, wooden, or rough surfaces might have some slight issues (for instance, clear off the oily surface or peel off gently from the wooden surface)


  • Show off your beautiful handwriting on washi tape, i.e. you can write on it
  • Lots of different designs, patterns, colors, textures, and pictures
  • Make things prettier other than being practical

So, which one do you want to go for, general tape or washi paper tape?  Do you really need it?

My take on this is yes and no.  It’s entirely up to you.

I’d love to tell you to forgo the normal tape and only use washi tape or vice versa.  But as with many other things in life, different things have their purpose and function.

Sometimes I use the general masking tape to cover certain spots where prettiness is not required.  Plus, the general ones have a stronger glue and can stick better wherever you want it to, for instance, the double-sided tape mentioned in this article.  However, I had problem removing the residue, as the adhesive tape was too strong.

Sometimes I use washi tapes on the wall, tables, journals, books, cabinets, paper, etc.  This kind of tape is low-tack adhesive.  Just tear and stick.

To sum up, both the tapes have different functions and ways of using them.  If you only need it for everyday use or to cover the hole, usual adhesive tape can do just fine.

However, if you want something to make things prettier or beautify the white wall or blank planner, then washi tape is the answer.


General masking tape vs washi tape – which one do you use?

Let me know in the comments below!


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What is washi tape? Is it the same as normal masking tape? | What is washi tape used for | Washi tape for beginners | What's washi tape | Washi tape blog | Washimagic.com

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