Shopping Discussion

Weirdness with Tape, the metric system, and cross border shopping

  • Last Updated:
  • Nov 22nd, 2017 10:56 am
[OP]
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Jan 12, 2010
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Weirdness with Tape, the metric system, and cross border shopping

I just found this strange and slightly amusing.

I need to buy a quantity of painter's tape and I'm heading to the US in a couple of weeks so I wondered if it was worthwhile picking it up there vs. here. That's when I discovered an oddity.

The US uses inches where we, supposedly, adopted the metric system. Tell that to 3M and their ScotchBlue line of painter's tape. In the US (at homedepot.com or amazon.com) you'll find the most common size is an odd 1.88 inches wide. It is 1.88 inches because that's what 48mm translates to and in Europe, tape is often sold in multiples of 12mm. OK, whatever, that's fine.

But then when looking in Canada to compare (homedepot.ca), I don't see 1.88 inches... or 48mm... I find 50.8mm. Which, as it turns out, is exactly 2 inches!

So in the US they get a metric size sold in imperial units and in Canada we get an imperial size sold in metric units. WTF 3M? Why in the world would they bother making a 2.8mm difference in the first place? But then to cross market it like that? Wouldn't it make much more sense to sell a "2 inch" size in the US and a "48mm" size in Canada? (even more sense for 2" in both and leave 48mm to Europe, but whatever).
32 replies
Deal Addict
Sep 20, 2008
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You put way too much thought into this.
[OP]
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Jan 12, 2010
175 posts
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Lol. If you say so. Then again, if you go through life not ever noticing the interesting details, perhaps you're not putting enough thought into things.

As I said, it was something "I just found [...] strange and slightly amusing" and thought I'd share. I didn't say it was a big deal.
Deal Addict
Jan 19, 2006
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Maybe this should go under the Home and Garden section! :)
It is an interesting observation... now based on the difference in amount of tape, who gets the better deal?
[OP]
Jr. Member
Jan 12, 2010
175 posts
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Looking only at the Homedepot sites, what we currently see:

USA: $6.58 USD = $8.40 CAD for 1.88in x 60yd = 28.2 square feet = $0.30 per square foot
Canada: $9.97 for 2in x 60yd = 30 square feet = $0.33 per square foot

USA edges us out by 10%. Probably not by enough to bother with the trip :)
Deal Expert
Feb 7, 2017
15173 posts
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Eastern Ontario
THE CASE OF THE STRANGE 3M LABEL

Why metric ?

Well because good old 3M Tapes (all tapes) are made in Canada... right here in Eastern Ontario
(Although I am not 100% sure about which ones are made where... there are 3M plants in Brockville & Perth)

I cannot fully explain the labelling questions you raise, other than to say
Europe has always been metric.
And Canada has not, we sort of sit in no man’s land between Metric & Imperial
Americans want 2” tape... Canadians pretty much want & ask for that too... despite whatever the darn label says

It’s a Cdn thing at its finest

CASE SOLVED

PS... if you shop around, you should be able to find 3M Painters Tape relatively cheap right here at home
Last edited by PointsHubby on Nov 21st, 2017 1:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Interesting, but aren't we supposed to discard the tape after we've finished painting?, so... who cares?
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Deal Guru
Mar 22, 2004
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RFD
roblombardi wrote: Interesting, but aren't we supposed to discard the tape after we've finished painting?, so... who cares?

This is RFD man come on...you need to save and reuse the tape for later Face With Tears Of JoyFace With Tears Of Joy (green font)
[OP]
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Jan 12, 2010
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PointsHubby wrote: THE CASE OF THE STRANGE 3M LABEL

Why metric ?
CASE SOLVED
I don't think you understood the "case", my friend :)

I wasn't asking why it was metric. I wasn't even really talking about metric other than it is STRANGE that it is sold as an imperial figure in the US as an odd number (1.88") obviously converted from a standard metric figure (48mm) but at the same time, it is sold in canada as a metric figure with an odd number (50.8mm) obviously converted from a standard imperial figure (2 inches).

What WOULD make sense would be for 3M to make a 2" tape and sell it in both markets as such, with it being labelled (due to law) in Canada as 50.8mm. Or, make it 48mm and sell it here as 48mm and there as 1.88". What DOESN'T make sense is to make it in two different sizes and cross market it to the other place (ie. metric in US and imperial in Canada).

Europe is Europe... whatever.
[OP]
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Jan 12, 2010
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roblombardi wrote: Interesting, but aren't we supposed to discard the tape after we've finished painting?, so... who cares?
What does discarding it have to do with its size and how it is marketed? Eventually you discard your pants, but meanwhile don't you want them to fit??
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Feb 7, 2017
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s_mack wrote: I don't think you understood the "case", my friend :)

I wasn't asking why it was metric. I wasn't even really talking about metric other than it is STRANGE that it is sold as an imperial figure in the US as an odd number (1.88") obviously converted from a standard metric figure (48mm) but at the same time, it is sold in canada as a metric figure with an odd number (50.8mm) obviously converted from a standard imperial figure (2 inches).

What WOULD make sense would be for 3M to make a 2" tape and sell it in both markets as such, with it being labelled (due to law) in Canada as 50.8mm. Or, make it 48mm and sell it here as 48mm and there as 1.88". What DOESN'T make sense is to make it in two different sizes and cross market it to the other place (ie. metric in US and imperial in Canada).

Europe is Europe... whatever.
Whatever is right.

Sounds like you are still bogged down by Metric vs Imperial measurements

I offered an explanation, you did not see it, rejected it. Ok whatever.

PS... suggest you check the labels to actually see which one is made in Canada, and if the other is made in America. That certainly would explain the differences. 3M in Ontario as I understand it makes all sorts of tape... but they are probably not the only spot in the 3M world
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s_mack wrote: What does discarding it have to do with its size and how it is marketed? Eventually you discard your pants, but meanwhile don't you want them to fit??
That is failed logic, because it doesn't matter if the tape is 2mm wider here than in the States... just apply it, paint, and then toss it... nobody will notice the difference in the end... whereas if a pair of pant don't fit on you, people will be more prone to notice it
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[OP]
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Jan 12, 2010
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Again, you seem to be missing the point. I'm not sure how better to explain it. I'm *not* bogged down by metric vs. imperial. OK, let's try this.

- US is normally imperial, right?
- Canada is normally metric, right? Though we can agree that in PRACTICE, that isn't necessarily so... but officially. Just stick with me here.
- 3M can produce whatever they want to, but let's say they wish to produce in metric. And they choose 48mm... whatever, that's fine.
- Stay with me... they sell that 48mm tape in the USA but call it 1.88" (because Americans would say, "wtf is 48mm?"). That's fine... no problem yet.
- But in Canada, where we'd EXPECT 48mm (officially) - if that's what 3M makes - gets an actual 2" version (or 50.8mm"). The product Americans would expect to get. But don't.

What I'm saying is that 3M makes two nearly identical, but clearly not quite, products... one is 48mm and the other is 50.8mm, right? Following? They sell the 50.8mm in Canada where (officially) the 48mm makes more "sense" and they sell the 48mm in the US where a nice round 2" would make more sense. For the entire North American market, it makes WAY more sense to make one product (likely the 50.8mm one) and sell it uniformly. But if they insist on making two... doing it the exact opposite of what they did would be the obvious thing to do.


I can't believe this is turning out to be so difficult lol.

Your point about "where" it might be made just makes it more strange. Presumably you're saying that the Canadian factory is making the product sold in the US and the US factory is making the product sold in Canada. That just makes it all the more strange, doesn't it? lol



Anyway, you seem pissed that I dismissed your "explanation". Well, I suppose I did because clearly you missed the point. But I also wasn't looking for an explanation. The situation is plainly obvious... the "why" doesn't really matter and could only be provided by 3M, who would surely be forced to say nothing more than, "whoops... someone screwed up on that one, didn't they?" and they'd all have a good laugh around the boardroom and poor Jimmy would get fired.

It is - of course - a VERY minor thing :) I just found it mildly interesting. So mildly that I'm now bored of talking about it, whether or not you're able to grasp the "issue".
[OP]
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Jan 12, 2010
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roblombardi wrote: That is failed logic, because it doesn't matter if the tape is 2mm wider here than in the States... just apply it, paint, and then toss it... nobody will notice the difference in the end... whereas if a pair of pant don't fit on you, people will be more prone to notice it
Oh Lord... you're completely missing the point too lol. Sigh. It DOESNT matter that it is 2mm wider here or there or whatever. lol. That has nothing to do with it.

Forget it, nevermind. Clearly there's a disconnect in here.
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s_mack wrote: Oh Lord... you're completely missing the point too lol. Sigh. It DOESNT matter that it is 2mm wider here or there or whatever. lol. That has nothing to do with it.

Forget it, nevermind. Clearly there's a disconnect in here.
Was there a point to all of this?
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[OP]
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roblombardi wrote: Was there a point to all of this?
YES!

Was there one you can appreciate (or grasp)? That's not something I can answer for you.
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s_mack wrote: YES!

Was there one you can appreciate (or grasp)? That's not something I can answer for you.
Easy cowboy, we're not here to passive-aggressively insult others... I can't find the point in this thread (other than some interesting info), but that doesn't entitle you to start treating people like idiots
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[OP]
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If it quacks like....

Look, I'm sorry but it goes both ways. Frankly, "cowboy", if YOU couldn't see the point of the thread, then wouldn't it have been best for YOU to simply not post? But YOU decided to post, stating that there was no point. The point - it seems - is something YOU can't grasp. If that makes YOU feel like I'm calling you anything, isn't that on YOU? I don't see why YOU get to effectively call me an idiot by suggesting I posted something without a point, but then I'm not allowed to suggest you aren't getting the point?
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roblombardi wrote: Easy cowboy, we're not here to passive-aggressively insult others... I can't find the point in this thread (other than some interesting info), but that doesn't entitle you to start treating people like idiots
It's rather obvious what the point is. He's surprised it's mm in America and inches in Canada. This may not be the right sub-forum (it's not), but the point of the thread is pretty clear.
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s_mack wrote: If it quacks like....

Look, I'm sorry but it goes both ways. Frankly, "cowboy", if YOU couldn't see the point of the thread, then wouldn't it have been best for YOU to simply not post? But YOU decided to post, stating that there was no point. The point - it seems - is something YOU can't grasp. If that makes YOU feel like I'm calling you anything, isn't that on YOU? I don't see why YOU get to effectively call me an idiot by suggesting I posted something without a point, but then I'm not allowed to suggest you aren't getting the point?
Frankly, if one can't see the point of the thread, the OP is usually kind enough to explain it, so a healthy discussion can be made... but to me the intent of the thread is confusing, starting with the title
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