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Picking the Right Painters Tape

Spring is the season of home improvement. And now that it's almost here, many people are considering ways to freshen up their homes and offices. One of the best ways to do this is to paint your walls.

Not only will this brighten your mood, but it's also a good investment – especially if you're planning to sell during the spring housing market. A freshly painted interior will help the house show better to prospective buyers.

Whether you plan to do-it-yourself or you're a longtime pro, you'll need to make some decisions about the type of painters tape to use. Your choice will depend upon the type of surface being painted, whether it's indoor or out, and any creative or artistic requirements.

Here's a quick primer to help you choose the right painters tape for your project. And don't forget to check for removal tips at the end of this post.

Why use painters tape and not other types of tape?

Unlike other types of masking tape, painters tape is specially designed for painting applications where clean removal is a requirement including in cases when the tape is exposed to direct UV light. It can be used on glass, vinyl, metal, wood, painted walls and trim.

There are several types of painters tape, and which one you choose depends upon the job you need it for.

Protect floors and furniture

As you prep your room for painting, you'll want to keep floors and furniture from getting hit by paint drops. You can drape your furniture with old bed sheets and cover floors with plastic sheets, but as you paint, these can shift, inadvertently exposing the edges of furniture or leaving spots on floors.

Duck Pre-Taped Painter's Drop ClothDuck Brand Pre-Taped Painter's Drop Cloth is ideal for protecting floors and counters while painting. This is a 2-mil thick plastic drop film that is pre-applied to a removable painters tape. The plastic film resists tears and punctures, and the removable cloth tape holds the film securely in place, so there's no slipping and sliding. It's designed to remove cleanly for up to 4 weeks.

Nashua CleanDrapeIf you already have drop film or cloth and just need a double-sided tape to apply it, Nashua's CleanDrape is a great choice. The adhesive cloth side of the tape holds up the film or dropcloth while the adhesive painters tape side goes up against your drywall. CleanDrape's blue painters tape side offers clean removal for up to 14 days from a variety of surfaces.

Create Crisp Lines

Once you've got floors and furniture protected, it's time to prep the baseboards, walls and ceilings. Painters tape can be used as a guide to keep lines straight and protect surfaces from getting spotted with the wrong color.

Shurtape CP 60Shurtape CP-60 Razor Edge tape is an ultra thin painters tape used to create razor sharp lines. Perfect for painting stripes, diamonds, and other patterns on walls. Its special paper backing reduces bleed-through and its low adhesion allows it to be easily removed after longer periods of time (for up to 60 days).

JVCC PGM-UVIf you're painting a newly constructed house or an addition, you will probably be painting drywall. JVCC PGM-UV Painter's Grade Masking Tape is a good choice because its peel adhesion does not increase with time, allowing for removal from a wide variety of surfaces without damage.

3M 20903M Scotch-Blue 2090 Painters Tape for multi-surfaces is a medium adhesion tape ideal for paint masking on multiple surfaces including painted walls and trim, woodwork, glass and metal. It can be removed cleanly without adhesive transfer or surface damage for up to 14 days, even in direct sunlight. The backing saturant is solvent and moisture resistant so it resists paint bleed-through, and the adhesive doesn't transfer when the tape is wet. However, this tape is not designed for use on wallpapers, unpainted wallboard, wood floors or poorly bonded surfaces.

Tips for Delicate Surfaces

Shurtape CP 28Delicate surfaces, such as wallpaper, freshly painted or unpainted wallboard and drywall, ceiling tiles, or masking for faux finishing, will require a lower adhesion tape. Shurtape CP-28 30-Day Purple Painters Tape, also known as 30 Day ShurRELEASE, can be applied to delicate surfaces for up to 30 days and then removed cleanly without causing surface damage.

Working with Other Special Surfaces

Frog Multi-SurfaceIf you're painting special surfaces, such as cured painted walls, unfinished wood and wood trim, glass, metal, and stone, choose a medium-adhesion tape like FrogTape's Multi-Surface Painters Tape. This tape removes cleanly from most surfaces for up to 21 days (7 days in direct sunlight). Its patented PaintBlock® Technology prevents latex paint from bleeding by forming a micro-barrier along the edges (it reacts with the water in latex paint). You get a fully sealed tape edge resulting in the sharpest paint lines possible.

Creating Wall Designs

Frog Shape TapePainters tape also can be used to create paint designs on walls, furniture and other surfaces. FrogTape Shape Tape Painters Tape comes in three pre-cut repeating patterns: Chevron, Scallop and Wave. Creative painters can use this tape to create horizontal, vertical, or diagonal designs.

Taping Textured Surfaces

Frog Textured SurfaceIt can be tricky to create sharp lines on textured surfaces such as heavy knockdown, light knockdown or orange peel, without bleeding. But FrogTape Textured Surface Painters Tape comes with a bottle of Liquid PaintBlock® Edge Sealer™, which forms a micro-barrier sealing the edges of the tape. As a result, paint doesn't bleed and you can create super sharp stripes, patterns, and designs on these types of textured surfaces.

Removal Tips

When all of the painting is done, it's time to remove the tape. Here are a few tricks to make sure it all comes off smoothly.

  1. Remove tape as soon as you are finished.bl
  2. Score the edge of the tape with a razor blade first.
  3. Pull the tape slowly and at a 90 degree angle.

If you're still uncertain about how to choose the right painters tape for your project, our Painters Tape Comparison Matrix will help you compare and choose based on a variety of criteria.

The Tape I Used Last Week

So my family is always making fun of me for insisting we use adhesive tape to solve every problem, so I decided to actually document what tape I've used over the last couple weeks to see how excessive I've really become.

  1. Polyken 510 Gaffers Tape I used some black Polyken 510 gaffers tape to hold the power cord in place on an air compressor. Comes off cleanly and doesn't dry out like rubber bands do.
  2. JVCC DC-UHB40FA-C Ultra High Bond Double Coated TapeRecently put in a new sliding glass door and it came with a molding piece which was to be put on as finish to the side of one of the doors. I assume it was meant to be glued on (the instructions didn't say), but I used some JVCC DC-UHB40FA-C ultra high bond double-sided tape to mount it (I also used some white gaffers tape to hold it in place while the adhesive bond was setting).
  3. Shurtape JLAR Tape (Permacel)On a day-to-day basis the tape I probably use the most is Shurtape JLAR. My 3-year old son is always tearing or ripping something in one of his books and this is great for book repairs. I still have some old rolls left over from when Permacel still made the tape and what I love about it is that they crush-cut the rolls so you could just pull on a length of the tape to break it by hand (no scissors needed). Now that its made by Shurtape is razor-cut like most tape so you can't do that anymore, but hopefully my supply will last a while longer.
  4. 3M EC100 Rite-Lok Instant AdhesiveI've been using 3M EC100 super glue all week to fix ornaments like the purse on this snow-lady. One thing I really like about EC100 is that it doesn't seem to clog up and become unusable after you use it a couple of times like I've had happen with other super glues.
  5. Scapa 225 Gaffers TapeI've been using a lot of gaffers tape over the holiday season to hold down cords - here I've used some 4 inch white Scapa 225 gaff tape to cover a green extension cord on my front door. It's a bit wrinkled since I probably should have gotten some help putting it on (it's a little hard applying wider width gaffers and duct tape alone), but you should get the general idea.
  6. 3M 109 Double-Sided Poster Tape3M 109 double-sided poster tape is great for putting up your kid's artwork on walls since it easily removable. In this case I even used some to hold the 109 dispenser up to the wall so I could take the photo.
  7. JVCC GLW Glow In The Dark TapeI'm a big fan of the JVCC GLW Glow-in-the-Dark tape and use it on electronics all around the house. I'm always a little surprised when I see reviews of glow tape say it's not very bright. It's definitely not a high-powered light source and wouldn't compare in intensity to say a flashlight, but to darkness-adjusted eye it works great to help you find a remote control in the middle of the night in order to turn off the TV you left on. I haven't mastered the art of photographing a glow product in darkness yet so this is just showing the product in daytime light - pretty boring.
  8. Polyken 105C Double-Sided Carpet TapeBesides the Shurtape/Permacel JLAR, double-sided carpet tape is the other type of tape I used the most often probably. Here I've used some Polyken 105C to hold down the mat rug on a landing outside in the garage.
  9. JVCC FELT-06 Black Polyester Felt TapeI was having an issue with some file drawers I had on some shelving downstairs. When you pulled the drawer completely out it would overhang the shelving and cause the back of the file drawer to pop up and the heavy drawer overhanging the shelving would then pull it off the shelf (not a very good storage system). I used some extra 2 x 4 pieces to brace the Vaultz File Drawers in place, but I first lined it with some JVCC FELT-06 felt tape to make sure it didn't dig in or scratch the drawers.
  10. Wooster Caution Non-Skid CleatsWe just got in some of these Wooster Caution Non-Skid Cleats and figured they would work great on some outside steps I had in the garage. I was going to use the glow-in-the-dark cleats we got in from Wooster instead, but the area I used them on in the garage is pretty dark so I didn't think they would get enough light-activation to work properly. Figured the "Caution" cleats would actually be more visible.
  11. Polyken 231 Duct Tape and JVCC 762-BD Bi-directional Filament TapeTo repair a big crack in my garbage can I used some JVCC 762-BD bi-directional filament tape as the first layer and then overlapped it with some wider width Polyken 231 military-grade duct tape. I should probably just call the trash pickup company to get a new receptacle, but this is way more fun.

So not too excessive - is it?