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? | Washimagic.com

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They all mean the same thing here – washi tapes.

(side note: please click here to read the different types in other articles.)

Before and after masking tape examples


Though the materials used may be different, one common thing is that you can find beautiful colors, patterns, texture 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.  More information here.

Have you used any normal masking tapes before?

As you can see below, these are the tapes I have 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

Common masking tapes


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

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

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

Since our purpose of getting them is just to cover things up if something spoiled or use it like glue, therefore we just buy the normal ones and the prices are certainly the cheapest possible.

The adhesive tapes (from the picture above) that I like to use is 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 tapes

My dad likes to use the yellow paper tape if there’s any spoiled or broken item found in the house.  He’d use the yellow tape to write and stick on the item to let us know to be careful.

Write on a yellow paper tape

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 on the bottle of the peanut butter jam so that we can 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 normal masking tapes?

I’d say washi tape is similar to normal adhesive tape.  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 normal masking tapes like what you use in the house or office.

Displaying some different washi tapes

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 surface might have some slight issues (for instance, clear off the oily surface or peel off gently from 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, normal 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 normal masking tape just to cover certain spots that prettiness is not quite required.  Plus, the general ones have a stronger adhesive and can stick better wherever you want it to, for instance, the double-sided tape mentioned in this article.  Having a problem removing the residue as the tape is very strong.

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

To sum up, both of the tapes have different functions and ways of using them.  If you only need for normal 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.

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What is washi tape? What is it for? Do you really need it? | Washi tapes | Washi decorative tape | masking tape | Washimagic.com


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Read more articles here:

Why use washi tapes? 3 major highlights: adhesive, removable, easy to use | Washimagic.com     Let powerful encouraging words start with you and me, one kind word at a time – find strength, hope and positivity in words and spread some now | Washimagic.com    Discover different types of washi tapes part 1 | decorative masking tape | deco tape | cute tape | Washimagic.com


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  1. January 3, 2020 / 2:35 pm

    Thanks for the article. Am new to the Washi Tape. Could we get them in India or their equivalent!? thank you.

    • Erina
      January 5, 2020 / 1:14 pm

      Hi sjadsul, thanks for your enquiry. I’m not familiar with the availability in India. Perhaps you can find some from your local craft store or stationery store. I did a quick search for you. Amazon or ebay India is the place to start but some require international shipping. Or search “art and craft stationery online india” or “washi tape india”, you can also find some such as craftgully.com & thecraftshop.in. Hope this helps! Have a great day 🙂

  2. Tracey
    September 25, 2019 / 4:36 am

    I would love to use this product without epoxy. I’m hoping it is smooth to the touch.But my fear is the glitter washi tape might be to chunky and i would have to epoxy over it. Please let me know your thoughts on this. Thank you

    • Erina
      September 26, 2019 / 3:01 pm

      Hi Tracey, thanks for your comment. The glitter washi tape can be somewhat like washi tape but the difference is that the glitter washi tape can be more sticky and may not be able to remove easily. From my experience, it’s not chunky though the texture is a wee bit rough due to the glitter. We can also tear the tape easily. However, there are so many different types nowadays so can’t mention all. You may see the sample here in this article – https://washimagic.com/2016/03/gold-washi-tape-birthday-card/. Hope this helps! Have a great day 🙂

  3. Izzy
    December 29, 2018 / 12:04 am

    Hi, ive recenntly bought my first washi tape online and was confused when i opened it as i cant seem to pull back the adhesive, it just looks like paper to me! Do they always come with a sticky side? Thanks!

    • Erina
      December 29, 2018 / 3:41 pm

      Hi Izzy, thanks for your enquiry and sorry to hear about your experience. The washi tape usually comes with a sticky side. They either stick well or not so well. So far I came across one like the glitter tape which has a backing paper behind which I need to peel off in order for it to stick, something like double-sided tape. If you don’t mind, you can email me the pictures so I can take a look. Hope this helps. Have a great day!

  4. Mrs Phoebe Newton
    July 3, 2018 / 1:32 am

    Washi tape is new to me. Can you buy it in Britain?

    • Erina
      July 3, 2018 / 1:39 pm

      Hi Phoebe, thanks for your enquiry. I found a few online and some have physical stores. You may check their websites such as Hobby Craft UK, Paperchase, Papermash, Bureaudirect and also Amazon UK. Please type washi tape in the search bar and you’ll find lots of different types. Hope this helps. Have a great day!

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