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When painting, sometimes mask-free cutting-in is impractical and masking tape must be used. The advice here is to remove masking tape before the paint has dried. That makes sense when a single coat is being applied. But what should be done with masking tape when multiple coats are being applied? Surely the correct procedure is not to remove the tape and re-mask for every coat.

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@dotjoe Why not move your comment to an answer? –  bib Sep 26 '12 at 20:48
    
@bib whoops, usually just comment on this site. –  dotjoe Sep 26 '12 at 21:09
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3 Answers

up vote 16 down vote accepted

Usually the second coat doesn't need tape because you don't need to get as close to the edge. But if you are going to, you'd want to re-mask for each coat. Otherwise the paint can seep under the masking tape while it's drying or it will pull non-masked paint off when you remove it.

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+1 It's an answer worth an upvote. Come back more to the site! –  bib Sep 26 '12 at 21:20
    
Do you mean the first coat doesn't need tape? That makes sense to me. –  ArgentoSapiens Sep 26 '12 at 22:09
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@ArgentoSapiens On the first coat, you use the tape to get a good line and you can be generous with the paint. After pealing the tape off, you may peal some paint from the other wall or notice some bleed through. You fix those spots and any thin areas with some careful touchup by hand. You can otherwise stay away from the line on the second coat. Tape on the second coat means you might have to go back with a third coat to fix any pealing or bleed through. –  BMitch Sep 26 '12 at 22:15
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+1 @ dotjoe. The problem with leaving tape on is that after the paint dries, it is more likely to peel off along the edges when the tape is pulled. We always pull the tape as soon as possible, but definitely before the paint cures. Then we either retape or lay off the edge an 1/8 inch on the second coat etc. –  shirlock homes Sep 26 '12 at 22:47
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It depends on the masking tape and its quality - 3M has a "new" blue tape that can stay on till the last coat is applied. If you then choose to rip it off or wait till the paint is dry is up to you. The tape can stay on a week. I have used it myself with perfect results (not working for 3M).

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There are two issues. The adhesive on the tape and the adhesive action of the paint.

The more expensive masking tapes use adhesive that dries (cures) more slowly, letting you pull the tape after it's been on the wall longer without damaging the paint below. It may also be thicker, or made of superior backing paper (or plastic).

With multiple applications of paint, the paint itself might form a film that is damaged when too thick to tear cleanly. In such cases, slow peeling of the tape assisted with a knife or razor blade to cut the paint from the edge of the tape can prevent your paint job from tape removal damage.

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