While painting is easy if you have the right tools and the right help ahead of time, there are certain mistakes that you could make that could make your job more difficult than it should be or not deliver the best end result. If you don’t properly mask the surfaces that you don’t want painted, you won’t get the professional looking results you desire.
Painter’s tape is specifically designed for painting and doesn’t pucker or buckle when paint is applied over it. It can help create clean, sharp lines in paint—which is ideal if you’re creating a two-tone look or design to your wall—and it can even be left on a wall for several days and still come off cleanly.
Before you get started with your paint project, it’s important to know the types of painter’s tapes available to you.
The types of painter’s tape you can use
If you are painting stripes, diamonds or other patterns onto walls, use an ultra thin painter’s tape. This type of tape has a very low adhesion, which allows it to be easily removed even after a longer period of time—which is perfect for the more intricate, detailed projects like patterns.
If you are painting a newly constructed house or any type of bare drywall, you will need a painter’s tape that can adhere to the rougher surfaces. A painter’s grade masking tape is a great choice because its peel adhesion does not increase with time, which allows for removal from a wide variety of surfaces without causing damage.
For painted walls, trims, woodwork, glass or metal, you will want a multi-surface painter’s tape. A medium adhesion painter’s tape allows the tape to be cleanly removed without adhesive transfer or surface damage, even when it’s sitting in direct sunlight for an extended time period. It’s important to note, however, that this type of tape isn’t designed for wallpapers, unpainted wallboard, wood floors or poorly bonded surfaces, so be sure to read the manufacturers label before purchasing.
Finally, for more delicate surfaces, look for a low adhesion painters tape.
How to apply painter’s tape
Before you begin your painting project, it’s important to first clean the moldings or surfaces where your painter’s tape will be applied. Even the highest adhesion tape won’t stay if you apply it to a dusty surface.
Typically, just a thorough dusting with a damp rag will do the trick but, if you’re working with a newer construction or there is a significant amount of dust, you may need to wash the area with a detergent solution.
When you’re ready to apply your painter’s tape, run the paint roll along the edge of the trim, molding or surface. A painter’s tape applicator is a helpful tool for this, but it isn’t necessary. Use a putty knife or some other flexible, but hard, tool to press down the edge of the tape to seal it.
If you are taping a corner area, you will likely have an overlap or a space that doesn’t quite fit the corner. To remedy this, start by running the first piece of tape up the wall, making it a little long. Then, press the tape down into the corner with your putty knife. Then, cut along the crease with a sharp utility knife and remove the cut off piece.
Once you’ve finished painting, you can remove the painter’s tape. Ideally, remove the painters tape carefully while the paint is still wet. However, if you need to leave the tape until it dries, gently score the edge of the tape with your putty knife before you pull it off. This will break any bond that has formed with the paint and ensure that the tape will come off cleanly.