Proper use of quality painter’s tape will enhance the results you achieve in your paintwork. Painter’s tape is a special type of tape that allows you to maintain a sharp, clean separation line between paint and surrounding surfaces. It’s integral to achieving professional-grade results.
Painter’s tape can be applied to existing paint to create a distinct line of separation between two colors of paint. It can also be applied in corners, on baseboards, on crown molding, and other surfaces that you want protected from new paint being applied.
In either case, if you remove the painter’s tape too soon, or too late, it can cause your paint to peel away, meaning that you have to perform rework, which is never the goal.
Read along with me today and we will explore some of the best brands of painter’s tape to work with, how to choose the finest ones for your unique needs, how to apply them properly to achieve superior results, and, specifically, how long to leave your paint to dry before applying tape onto it.
So, let’s not get stuck right here. Instead, let’s jump into a quick master’s class about painter’s tape. About 5 minutes from now, you’re going to know more about this specialty tape that economically and very effectively enhances your painting efforts.
OK – here we go!
Choosing the Best Painter’s Tape
Although it may seem very straightforward, there are actually several variables to consider when choosing the best painter’s tape for a given project. These options include:
- The width of the tape
- The strength of the adhesive
- How long it takes the tape’s adhesive to fully cure
- Whether the tape will be applied inside or outdoors
We will also review the different colors of painter’s tape, and what those colors represent.
Alright, let’s begin with the width of the tape and how it can affect your results.
Width of Painter’s Tape
There aren’t any rules set in stone about which width of painter’s tape is best for which purpose. It typically comes down to working with the size that you’re most comfortable with, and, in many cases, the only size that you may have available.
Regardless of the width of the tape, its function is basically the same: to protect something from getting paint on it. This could be window trim, door trim, crown molding, base trim, another wall, or another color of paint.
In general, thinner tape is easier to control and fit into tight spaces that may need protection. Wider tape can be used alone, or applied on top of thinner tape, to achieve a broader protection zone.
Some people like to apply thin tape because they can control it very easily to achieve a super-tight line, and then go back with wider tape on top of it to achieve more protection from spattering and overspray when using a paint sprayer, or from direct contact with a roller or brush.
Again, there are no rules. Just be sure to take your time with every move to ensure the highest degree of quality that you can. That’s all that really matters!
Strength of the Adhesive & Curing Time
Painter’s tape is available in different degrees of adhesiveness. It comes in low, medium, heavy-duty, and specialty purpose varieties. Let’s look at each type closer now.
Painter’s tape with low adhesion is best suited for application on delicate substances, like wallpaper, patterned paint, faux finishes, and other types of decorative wall covering. Depending on which brand you select, these painter’s tapes can remain in position for up to two months.
Medium adhesion painter’s tape is suitable for the majority of indoor surfaces, like plaster, drywall, and paneling. However, it’s also an excellent choice for painted wood, bare wood, glass, stone, and metal. This grade of painter’s tape should remain in place for a maximum of two weeks.
Heavy-duty painter’s tape is most suitable for exterior applications on surfaces like brick, stucco, concrete, and lacquered paint. These weather-resistant types of painter’s tape should be removed within one week.
Specialty purpose painter’s tape is typically used for protecting unfinished wood flooring, polyurethane-coated wood flooring, and laminate surfaces. It is typically used in conjunction with rosin paper to provide thorough coverage.
Different Colors of Painter’s Tape
When you go to the store to purchase painter’s tape, you’ll likely notice that it’s available in multiple colors, specifically blue, green, and white.
Painter’s tape manufacturers tend to link these colors with certain attributes, like the strength of the adhesive, for instance. However, that’s not always the case, so be careful and read the label of the tape that you are considering to ensure that it is suitable for your intended purposes.
Blue Painter’s Tape
The heat of the sun can melt the adhesives of some types of tape. If that happens, the tape may be difficult to remove, and peel your paint resultingly.
Blue painter’s tape is made to resist the detrimental effects of sunlight. This UV-resistant type of tape is suitable for interior and exterior uses, especially if the work area is exposed to sunlight.
Green Painter’s Tape
Green painter’s tape is manufactured with more adhesive strength than other types. Its strong glue makes it appropriate for use on uneven, rough, and textured surfaces. However, be careful using it on more delicate surfaces like drywall because its stronger adhesive might grab so hard that it causes damage upon removal.
White Painter’s Tape
Most people call white painter’s tape “masking tape.” Overall, it’s a multi-use tape that isn’t as quality as blue or green tape, but it can save you a lot of money. If you have a ton of taping to accomplish on a large painting project, white painter’s tape may be the best choice.
Step-by-Step Instructions for Applying & Removing Painter’s Tape
Regardless of the color or width of the painter’s tape you’re using, there are some general application tips that will serve you well. Take the following steps to achieve professional-grade results:
- Ensure that the surface that you will be placing the tape on is clean, free of dust, and dry.
- Take your time applying the tape, being as exact as you can with each motion.
- Press the top edge of the tape down firmly as you progress along the surface.
- Do not stretch the tape because this can cause it to tear or lift away from the surface.
- Use your fingernail, a credit card, or a putty knife to ensure that the tape is set fully.
- Carefully and firmly wipe over the entirety of the tape with a mildly damp cloth.
- Allow the tape to set up in position for between 30 and 60 minutes.
Now, you’re ready to apply your paint. After you spray, brush, or roll your paint on, leave it alone and allow it to set up. Most paint tacks up nicely within about an hour, but it’s good to wait longer. In my experience, it’s best to wait a full 24 hours before removing the tape.
I like to take my razor knife with a fresh blade and run it down the line where the paint meets the tape before I go to pull the tape off. This provides a clear separation between the paint and the tape, which significantly improves the quality of the result you will achieve.
When you remove your tape, even if you made the relief cut with a razor knife, pull it off at an angle, away from the edge you are protecting. Don’t pull it straight down because this will encourage paint tearing. You don’t want to peel the paint off that you just applied!
Final Thoughts About How Long to Wait Before Applying Tape to Fresh Paint
Whether you are applying painter’s tape in a corner, like to separate a floor and a wall, or to protect a trim board from paint that you will be applying on the wall, it is good to allow the paint a full 24 hours of drying time before removing the tape.
If you’re in a big hurry (not recommended), you should at least wait for the paint to dry to the point where it does not stick to your fingertip if you touch it. However, while many painters recommend taping only a couple of hours afterward, again, I recommend waiting one full day. This will allow the base, solvent, pigments, and other additives in the paint to partially cure and gain strength.
After you have applied your tape, read your manufacturer’s instructions about the maximum amount of time that you should leave it in position before peeling it away. If you leave the tape in position for too long, you run the risk of its adhesive sticking to the surface of the paint after you remove the tape. Then, you would have to use a mild solvent to remove it, which could flaw your beautiful paint job.
So, to summarize, you should leave your paint to dry at least 24 hours before applying painter’s tape for any purpose. Waiting two or three days is even better. The goal is to get the paint to cure to the point where it has gained enough strength to resist tearing and ripping away when you remove your painter’s tape.
Thank you very much for reading today and I hope that you have gained some valuable information that will help your future painting jobs turn out much better. Remember that painting is an art, and every step that you perform in a paint job is important. Take your time. Slow down. Enjoy the process.
Enjoy the paint!