Painter’s Tape: How To Get the Best Results With This Pro Product

Woman applying painters tape

Using painter’s tape can mean the difference between a professional looking paint job and a sloppy one. Using painter’s tape will help you:

  • Paint straighter
  • Make less of a mess
  • Get a better-looking product

Painter’s Tape: What’s the Best Kind for My Job?

First, you’ll need to find the right tape for the job.

Sometimes buying a cheaper product will save you money. But that’s not true where painter’s tape is concerned. You need a tape that will tightly seal to the surface you’re painting and that will pull off easily, like Scotch Tape or Frog Tape. Cheaper brands that use lower-quality adhesives could impact the quality of a paint job.

If you’re painting a smooth surface, choose a standard painter’s tape. For delicate surfaces, try tape with less adhesive – it’s easier to remove and will help protect your finish. For textured materials like popcorn ceilings, brick or stucco, use an extra-sticky tape, which is made to adhere to the uneven area.

Pro tip: Masking tape isn’t the same thing as painter’s tape. Painter’s tape is made to withstand wet paint and remove easily. Masking tape will let paint seep through and it’s likely to fragment when you try to remove it, making it a mess to get off.

What’s the Correct Way To Apply and Remove Painter’s Tape?

Before you apply tape, clean surface you’re protecting, like molding or walls. This helps the tape stick better and provides a clean surface for paint to adhere to. Apply an 18-24” long strip of tape to the ceiling, as close to the edge of the wall as possible. Roll the tape on in long strips. The fewer seams, the less paint will bleed behind the tape. Smooth the tape down, patting it into place, so make sure it seals to the ceiling. This avoids bubbles and wrinkles.

Pro tip: Use a putty knife to smooth the painter’s tape into place, tilting it so it applies pressure to the edge of the tape and creates a tight seal.

Remove the paint about an hour after the paint is applied, when it’s dry to the touch. If the paint is pulling up with the tape, feel the paint. If it’s still gummy, wait until it’s hard and dry before you peel off the tape. If the paint does feel completely dry, use a putty knife or razor blade to score the edge of the tape and break the seal. Pull off the tape at a 45 degree angle to the wall; this helps keep the line smooth and even.

Can I Use It To Paint Stripes on the Wall?

Do you want the look of expensive striped wallpaper without the cost? Try this simple hack using painter’s tape.

  • First, decide how big you want your stripes to be, then measure the stripes, marking the measurements on the wall with a pencil. Next, use a straight edge, contractor’s level or laser level to draw the stripes from floor to ceiling.
  • Check at different heights on the wall to make sure the strips are the same width apart from top to bottom. Redraw as needed until they line up correctly.
  • Now that you’ve drawn your stripes, apply the tape outside each line.
  • For extra sharp lines, paint your base color over the edge of the tape, then when it’s dry, apply the second color over it. The extra coat of base color will seal the edge of the tape, protecting the wall from the stripe color.
  • When the first coat of the stripe color is dry, add another coat for optimum color and coverage.
  • Wait till the paint dries to the touch and then remove the painter’s tape.

Let our trending colors inspire you to create a space that’s as unique as you are. And if you’re ready for that new paint job, our interior painting service will do the work for you, freeing you up to do what you love.


Kelley Rebori

Kelley Rebori has written for national brands like Paintzen, HGTV, the DIY Network and Trulia for more than a decade. She loves home renovation projects, chocolate icing and small poodles. She and her husband split the year between their homes in Tennessee and Italy.