Table of Contents

Gaffa, otherwise known as gaffa tape or gaffer tape, is a heavy cotton cloth pressure-sensitive tape with strong adhesive and tensile properties. It is widely used in theatre, photography, film and television production, and industrial staging work. While sometimes confused with duct tape, gaffer tape differs in the composition of both the backing, which is made from fabric as opposed to vinyl or other plastics, and the adhesive, which is more resistant to heat and more easily removed without damaging the surface to which it was adhered.

The precise origin of the name is unknown, one theory being that it is named for the gaffer (chief lighting technician) on a film crew. When cables are taped down on a stage or other surface, either to prevent tripping hazards or conceal them from view of the audience or camera, they are said to be gaffed or gaffered.

Kate used the term gaffa in her song Suspended In Gaffa. The Usenet newsgroup was named after this song in the 1980’s, followed by the website – created by members of that newsgroup – in 1997.