Painter's Tape 101

Unless you have a super-steady hand -- or you like the “relaxed” look of paint smears on your windows, floors, and ceiling -- then you’re most likely rely on the help of painter’s tape.

Here at TIMBER MART, we know not all tape is created equal. Sometimes it takes a little planning to get just the right one.

  • Stick to paint-specific tape: You might be tempted to grab a roll of plain old masking tape because it’s cheaper, but it’s no substitute for real painter’s tape. Masking tape just isn’t designed to stick to walls for long periods of time. It dries out too quickly, and it can be hard to remove.
  • Determine how you’ll be using it: Do you need painter’s tape to protect the edges of your trim while you repaint your walls? Or are you planning to paint stripes on your walls and need a perfectly crisp line? Do you need flexible tape that can bend around a curve?
  • Look at the texture of your walls: Some tapes are designed for painted or lightly textured walls, while other tapes are better for delicate surfaces like freshly painted walls. If you’re using the tape outside, consider buying an exterior painter’s tape that will hold up better outdoors.
  • Consider your timeline: Will your painting project be finished in just a couple of hours, or will you need tape that stays firmly in place for a few days or more? Check the label to see how long the tape is designed to stick.
  • Apply it in one-foot sections: When you rip off a long strand of tape and stick it to the wall, you might pat yourself on the back for finishing the job faster. But you’re actually stretching the tape and it won’t lay properly. Rip off one-foot sections of tape to prevent stretching.
  • Smooth it down: Once your tape is applied, run a clean putty knife or a credit card over the surface of the tape to smooth out any bubbles and make sure it’s adhering properly.
  • Remove it while the paint is still wet: Yes, it’s scary to go near those shiny wet walls because you don’t want to mess up your beautiful paint job, but the tape needs to come down right after the final coat. If you wait until the paint is dry, it forms a bridge and the tape might peel the paint right off the wall.
  • Don’t panic if you forget: If you let the paint dry without removing the tape, there’s still hope. Grab a sharp utility knife and lightly score the edges of the tape, breaking the seal between the tape and the painted walls. Then you can gently remove the tape, pulling away from the painted edge.

Happy taping!

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