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When painting, I often use masking tape, however, when I pull it off paintwork it sometimes pulls off some of the paint with it. Is there a way to prevent this?

EDIT:

A few people have said: "make sure you take the tape of after painting". But this was happening as I was putting the tape on (to get it straight, I had to remove it and re-apply in a couple of places - which is where I noticed the paint coming off).

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Yes this can happen, especially if you don't remove the masking tape straight away.

It might indicate that the paint isn't properly adhered to the underlying surface, but it can happen even if you've prepared the surface properly (cleaned and dried).

The only real solution is to use something else - a straight edge held to the wall is always a good choice. However, that might not work well if the wall is uneven.

You could draw a line where you want to paint to and then hold a short piece of card up to this line as you paint in small sections.

From your update it sounds like when the previous paint was applied the surface wasn't prepared properly. Your best bet in those circumstances is to remove the top layers of paint - or even all of it - until you get a sound surface for you to paint on.

  • I had a look around before I started the job and came across something called a splash guard, which seems to be a manufactured version of the cardboard idea. Have you had any experience with these? – Paul Michaels Nov 25 '10 at 18:46
  • @pm_2 - no, sorry. Only ever used the cardboard technique. – ChrisF Nov 25 '10 at 22:35
  • I've seen them sold as a 'paint shield' -- typically plastic, maybe with a thin metal edge about 2' long. They work great when cutting in the ceiling a different color than the wall; I've never used 'em where I didn't have a corner to place it into (and so had to make sure to hold it perfectly still while painting with the other hand) – Joe Nov 26 '10 at 2:51
  • I tried this "Paint Shield" and it doesn't work. The problem seems to be that it's made of smooth plastic, and so after a while, the paint ends up on the wrong side of it. – Paul Michaels Dec 10 '10 at 16:11
  • It's so easy to find previous painters... ...who didn't apply the correct amount of primer, OR DIDN'T PRIME AT ALL! So horrible. Eventually, you just get the paint in a gentle layer over the surface, not attached, just acting like a shell instead of something embedded. Then it doesn't matter how you apply the tape, 'cause the underlying paint layer is shit. – Kzqai Apr 23 '15 at 15:59
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Are you using plain brown masking tape, or the slightly more expensive painter's tape? I've had the best luck when I've spent just a little bit more to get better quality tape. It comes off easier, and leaves behind less residue.

No matter what kind of tape you use, I also agree with Niall C. Definitely remove the tape as soon as you can after painting. You don't have to wait until the paint is dry.

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    Good point -- I assumed the painter's tape, but he might've been using the brown stuff. (and um ... it leaves just as much residue if you leave it on a window for years before removing ... please don't ask why I know that) – Joe Nov 26 '10 at 2:53
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    Old-style masking tape was invented for old-style paints. The new super-goopy latex paints (I hate them) seem to stick to tape better than they do to walls. Apparently designed so painters can put on a coat, go sit in the truck and eat lunch, come back in for the second coat and be off the job in one day. – dbracey Mar 2 '12 at 22:28
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Remove the masking tape immediately after painting so that there's no time for the skin to form over the join between the tape and the painted surface.

If the paint has already dried, use a craft knife and a straight edge or ruler to cut it along the edge of the tape.

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    When you're applying multiple coats, does this imply that you should re-tape for each coat? – ArgentoSapiens Sep 24 '12 at 3:18
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I just finished a project that included painting stripes on the wall that required a lot of straight edges (see the picture below). Before I used the blue painters tape and experience problems similar to yours.

This time I used the green Frog tape and it really made a huge difference in keeping the edges sharp and no paint peeled when the tape was removed. I was skeptical at first but it is definitely worth the extra $1-2 when compared to the blue painters tape. I bought it at Lowe's and I also saw it at Sherwin Williams.

alt text

Like others mentioned, you want to remove the tape right after you are finished painting. You also want to pull the tape away in the direction away from the painted area.

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I had this problem while repainting our house. I attributed it to the crappy paint the builder had originally used. It could also be a low quality primer. Your best bet is getting the 'delicate surfaces' blue tape, which is more pricey, but less prone to pulling up old paint. IT's not as sticky, so if you're having problems with it adhering in the first place, this may not be the best solution for you. I did have it pull up paint a few times, but less than other types of painters tape. (I didn't do a scientific study or anything, just general observation.)

  • Yup. That's the exact stuff I use. It's not perfect, but way better than plain old masking tape. – Chris Jaynes Nov 26 '10 at 4:20
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    An option I've not tried while painting yet, but I use for short-term sponsor stickers on my racecar is to stick them to my jeans a couple times, then stick them on the car... Comes off MUCH easier. Not sure how much it would impair the function of painter's tape though (some of it's pretty marginal to begin with, despite being very sticky). – Brian Knoblauch Dec 1 '10 at 19:11
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Sometimes you have to wait to put on a second coat and I found if I score the edge and use a blow dryer to loosen the tape (it seems like it loosens the glue on the tape) as I'm pulling it off, it works pretty well. I came up with this idea when I thought about how to remove paint and varnish with a heat blower. I thought I'd try the blow dryer and it worked.

  • The hair dryer is a great idea just be sure to go lightly. Too much heat will leave the tape's glue on the item, not the tape. Also when pulling the tape off, pull it back doubled over upon itself flat and slow. – user34997 Mar 26 '15 at 16:31
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If you're talking about pulling away the old paint, not the new paint - I heard somebody somewhere once say they stuck their masking tape to their clothes first, then used it on the wall, which made it less sticky (and de-linted their clothes). But the delicate surfaces blue tape sounds ideal!

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This happened to me and it was very frustrating. Had to keep going back and re-Spackle where paint and spackle or joint compound came off with the tape. The green frog tape seemed to work the best but I added to that to make the tape less sticky. Get a bed sheet and spread it out on a table. Tear off a piece of tape and apply it to the bed sheet then take it up and it will be less sticky when you apply it to the wall but it will still stick enough to mask and paint.

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With regards to "Frog Tape", I have used this on only one occasion and had terrible results. We used Behr latex interior (water base) paint. Once the paint hit the tape the adhesive dissolved and the tape lifted off the wall creating a terrible mess and of course necessitated a total re-do. The second time around we used 3M blue painters tape and then sealed the edge with Behr "deep base" before applying the actual paint. Results were perfect. No paint wicked under the tape. Perhaps I had a bad batch of Frog Tape. I contacted their customer service to voice my complaint and never received a reply from them. Use at your own risk.

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  1. Use a more expensive tape which can be left on for 7-14 days (the adhesive is less aggressive)
  2. After the final coat is dry, use a Stanley knife to cut the paint where it joins into the tape.

I've just been painting French doors and this was the only way to get a clean edge where the painted wood joins the glass.

I wanted to get as close to the edge as possible which meant that that enamel paint was joined to the tape - ripping it off without cutting it just destroyed my edges.

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There are two issues getting mixed together here. One is about the tape pulling up the new paint where the two meet. The other is about the tape pulling off the paint that is being masked; the paint under the tape. That's the problem that I am having. This problem is not dependent on how quickly you remove the tape after painting. That only addresses the problem of pulling up the edge of the new paint. Obviously, the tape, even the tape for "delicate surfaces," sticks to the paint better than the paint sticks to the surface on which it is painted. My surfaces had been cleaned and sanded before painting but the "delicate surface" tape still pulled the paint off in places. The idea of reducing the stickiness of the tape by attaching it to something else first sounds like it might work, but is a PITA.

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