How to Use Painter’s Tape

How to Use Painter’s Tape

Painter’s tape is used to create crisp lines, protect ceilings and trim, and make a painting job look like it was done by a professional. Using painter’s tape, however, can be trickier than it looks.

While experienced painters sometimes cut in without tape, beginners usually use painter’s tape to mask off areas that they don’t want to paint and then peel it off to reveal flawless lines for the best result.

Keep reading to learn about the different styles of painter’s tape to ensure you choose the right one for the job, and find out how to use painter’s tape for a flawless end result.

Here are a few tips to make a difference even before you start painting:

1. Choose the Right Painter’s Tape for the Job

There are times when a cheaper product will do the job as well as the expensive product. But cheap painter’s tape is no bargain. If you’re going to all the trouble of taping, you want tape that will seal tightly to the surface and come off easily. Unfortunately,  there’s no single type of painter’s tape that will work in every circumstance.

For general taping, use ScotchBlue No. 2090. There are two versions: one for standard taping, and one with less adhesion for taping over delicate surfaces. You can leave these on for up to 14 days. You can also use the blue tape on window glass. The adhesive will withstand ultraviolet light without baking onto the glass.

Scotch No. 2060 is extra sticky and works well for textured surfaces like stucco and brick. If you’re only going to buy one width, get 1-1/2-in.-wide painter’s tape. It works well for most tasks.

2. Clean your surface

The biggest mistake that can be made when taping walls or trim for painting is to skip the cleaning process. Even the stickiest painters tape won’t stick to dusty, dirty, or greasy surfaces. Simply use a damp cloth to remove dust or dirt, and let your surface dry fully before starting your taping process. If you find grease, you’ll have to use soap and water to successfully remove all of the residue before beginning.

3. Double check the baseboards

Double check the baseboards before painting

Here’s a common mistake that you must avoid: make sure that the painter’s tape is covering the top of the baseboards, but not covering the wall.

We hate that tiny white stripe that ruins the overall result, don’t you? You better learn this trick and make it a routine, if you want to save time for later and skip the final touches.

4. Seal the edges of your masking tapes

Run your fingers or a putty knife back and forth over the edge of the tape. This trick will make you obtain sharper paint lines and avoid paint bleeding under the tape.

When you’ll have to unmask everything, don’t be afraid: a good quality masking tape sticks well, but at the same time it grants an easy removal. This will allow you to remove painter’s tape without peeling paint underneath.


How to apply painters tape to ceilings or inside corner walls

Applying scotch blue painters tape

Paint around the corner with the first color

Let dry fully (usually 24 hours)

Tape your line 1/8″ from the corner

Apply pressure to tape to make sure it’s sealed

Start painting

You’ll find it’s very hard to get a straight line, even with painters tape. The trick to paint corners or around ceilings is to paint around the corner with the first color. Once the paint dries, tape off the painted side using tape that is safe on 24 hour fresh paint. Instead of trying to tape perfectly down the center of the corner, move the tape about 1/8″ from the corner where it’ll be easier to get a straight line. No one will ever notice that your line isn’t perfectly centered in the corner! The last step is to press down the edge of the tape to make sure it’s sealed.


How to apply painters tape to trim and baseboards

Putty knife

Pull tape about 6″ off roll

Place on trim board

Use a putty knife to apply pressure

Repeat the process

When applying painters tape to baseboard trim, it will seal best when a flexible putty knife is used to apply pressure as you lay your tape line. Start by laying about 6″ of tape against your surface, then unroll about 6″ more. Laying small sections of tape at a time will help to keep your tape as straight as possible.


when to remove painter’s tape

Employ the 45-degree angle method of removing painter’s tape.

Knowing when to remove painter’s tape is 50 percent of the battle, the other half is knowing how to remove it without risking damage to the sharp finished edge you’ve worked so hard to achieve.


Patience is key. Work slowly, pull the tape away at an angle of 45 degrees. Having a large mass of tape in your hands can be awkward, so tear lengths off regularly and throw them away.

Some experts recommend scoring the entire edge that’s been painted with a utility knife (make sure it has a fresh blade). However, this can be very laborious so others suggest keeping a knife handy and score if you notice an area where the paint might have stuck across the tape.

As you work, keep looking ahead a little so you can spot potential problems before they occur. This means working close to the tape so you can see what’s happening. Don’t be tempted to stand on the floor and rip off a whole length along the ceiling. Attention to detail here, as with every other part of the job, ensures a professional paint finish.





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