Introduction: Zip Tie Tips and Tricks

About: I travel all the time for work. So most of the instructables I do I only use what fits in my car.

There are many different uses for zip ties. Knowing the kind of zip tie and other possible aids will enhance your zip tie uses. Zip ties when used the wrong way can be destructive over time and even fail. There are many tips that can save you the trouble of having to cut and retie zip ties l. Here are some practical pointers to preventing potential problems with zip ties and give some helpful tips.

My experience: I worked in an industry that used approximately 1200 - 2000 different types of zip ties each day (a group of about twelve) to secure structural and electrical equipment in a safe manner for long periods of time.

Here are some categories.

Surfaces to Zip Tie to:


Tricks: Zip tie ladder, Supper glue the shank in place. Flush mount the head to the surface. Cut flush to prevent lacerations.

Step 1: Parts of the Zip Tie:


The head is the large square area of the zip tie at the top. It's serves two purposes: to house the "shank," and to allow the stem to be cut flush.

Shank: This part is contained within the head. It's job is to catch the teeth on the stem of the zip tie to secure it in place. Every once in a while (1 out of 10,000) zip ties are missing a shank and the zip tie will not secure upon tightening. If the shank becomes damaged the zip tie will fail. Stronger zip ties have metal shanks in the head, which prevent the shank from breaking.


The stem is the part that leaves the head and stretches to the tip of the zip tie. Between the head and the tip are the teeth of the zip tie. The teeth engage the shank and secure the zip tie from sliding.

Step 2: Different Types of Zip Ties:

There are so many types of zip ties. Different colors, lengths, different shapes, etc... The trick is finding the right zip tie for the right job. Knowing the various types of zip ties helps you use the correct zip tie for the right job.


The most common zip ties you find. They are smaller (under 12 inches) and generally come in a large amount of colors. Generally speaking, they are rated for lower load bearing application.

Things to use these for: light applications that require two areas being secured together.

Things to look for when choosing zip ties:

UV rating - is the zip tie going to be in a sun exposed situation? Some zip ties will not last long in the Arizona sun.

Temperature rating - is the zip tie going to be in a hot or cold situation? The freezing cold and the heat from an engine compartment can easily damage a zip tie not rated for the such conditions.

Length - is it the right length? If the zip tie is too short it will be difficult to secure, and be more likely to break. If it's too long, you waste.

Heavy Duty:

Some zip ties are made to hold a good amount of weight. These zip ties are the only structural zip ties that you should use. Its always good to use a heavier weight than needed. For example, a chair that has a part that has been zip tied back together. People of varying weights will be sitting on that chair, so you need to take into account the heaviest amount of weight that may be put on that chair and use a zip tie of corresponding load bearance.

Metal Shank:

Some zip ties have a metal shank (as seen in the pic above). These zip ties not only have a stronger shank, but usually also have a stronger stem. They are zip ties that are significantly stronger in a lot smaller package. NOTE: these can also damage electrical and data cables if unprotected. Only use shrink-wrap protection. They are strong and thin enough that if tightened they will cut through many lighter materials.


There are some really neat zip ties out there. Some have built-in standoffs, some wrap around beams, some have screw holes built in. There are reusable zip ties and security zip ties. Just remember that if the zip tie is made for the job you plan on doing, usually it will work great and make the task simple and quick. It will also provide a quality look and help organize the project you plan on accomplishing.

Step 3: Surfaces to Zip Tie To:

When zip tying something the objective is to secure one object to another object(s). Sometimes you are merely bundling cables together, but often the goal is to secure something to a surface. This is where objects like standoffs become very helpful. While there are various types of stand offs, we will list several types that are particularly useful.


Push rivets require the right size hole and depth (clearance). They are a great and a quick way to make a path to route whatever you need secured.


These also require the correct size hole and depth, but are very secure and vary in size to accommodate different needs. This works best with securing standoffs to metal and hard plastic structures. Rivet gun (hand held) and kits can be obtained for a relatively low price. The idea is to make a very professional look.


These are more expensive but are great standoffs to use in a pinch. While you have to be careful about water and heat exposure, these offer a lot of options that require very little modification for use. Another drawback is they provide very little longterm structural support.


These require no holes, only screw and a screwdriver. The user can select whatever screw is appropriate for the situation (interior or exterior, hot or cold, etc.). They can be removed and added back again. These also provide much more structural support than other standoffs (depending on the material of the standoff).


These can be attached in different ways. Rivets are a common option. These standoffs allow you to attach at multiple points. They also allow you to put distance between the base of the standoff. For instance, if you are routing electrical or data cables, you can route them separated between the top and bottom of the ladder to avoid interference.


There are a many types of standoffs out there. The best result is achieved when you use the stand off made for your situation. Standoffs can give you a great advantage. The can also help prevent zip ties from sliding (which causes chaffing and leads to longterm damage).

Step 4: Tricks and Tips!

Here are some Tricks and Tips to using zip ties.

Cut flush to prevent lacerations.

This might seem like a small detail, but a small piece of zip tie tail can cut you. Many times I have reached into a place or passed by an un-flush zip tie and gotten a bleeding cut. It's an uanessacry risk that can be easily avoided. It is also unprofessional to leave for someone else.

Flush mount the head to the surface.

If possible, ensuring that the zip tie head is firmly against the securing surface (stand off or anything else) will prevent future movement. The more you can prevent future movement, the less likely you are to have future chaffing.

Super glue the shank in place.

If you need the zip tie to stay locked at a certain circumference that is not tight around a surface, consider putting a little bit of super glue on the stem. When the zip tie is pulled through, the goal is to get the shank glued to the stem. This will not allow the zip tie to tighten accidentally in the future.

Double sided tape.

If you have to use a zip tie on a beam, there is a common problem with the zip tie twisting. A great solution to this is to use double sided tape... but be warned... once the double sided tape is on... it can be hard to get off. So use double sided tape sparingly.

Zip tie ladder.

In a pinch, if a zip tie is not long enough, hook two together to do the job.

Step 5: Conclusion

Zip ties can be used for so many things!

Have fun! Experiment!

Remember to always use the right tie for the right situation.

I hope this is helpful.



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