I put that painters tape on the edges by the ceiling and cut in next to it (overlapping the tape with the paint somewhat).

A couple of hours later, I pull the tape, and small sections of paint come off with it. How do I avoid this?

Is it sufficient to just take a small brush afterward and touch up the area? It always seems to look crappier.

  • This would be a duplicate of the 1st revision of the question Using masking tape for painting, and most of its answers apply here. Since the update to that question changed its meaning completely, I'm not sure if this is a duplicate or not.
    – Niall C.
    Commented Jan 4, 2011 at 3:23
  • What about paint that's dried and hanging off the wound? Cut or sand?
    – Caveatrob
    Commented Jan 4, 2011 at 3:26
  • 2
    I would trim off the loose pieces with a craft knife, then use a sanding sponge to smooth out the edges, then touch up with a trim brush.
    – Niall C.
    Commented Jan 4, 2011 at 3:37

4 Answers 4


Mistakes are bound to happen, and yes you can touch it up with a very small crafting paintbursh (like the ones kids use for waterpainting). You will probably never notice.

The best solution however, is to not use painters tape on corners and ceilings. Typically in professional painting, tape is not used. If you use a small 2" cutting paintbrush, and apply by pulling the paintbursh at an angle toward you, keeping the smallest amount of bristles near the corner / edge, you will be fine. The only time i apply painters tape is around trim - and this is more to prevent drippings and splatter, than to protect a clean edge.

If you get paint on the opposite wall using this tapeless method, it is most easily corrected by fixing it immediately when the pain it still wet. Simple use a all-in-one paint tool (or a putty knife) with a damp cloth (i use old t-shirts) pulled tight over the edge, then scrape away the paint that got on the opposing wall.

  • After trying to use tape on the ceiling and watching it come off in patches with the tape, I'm a firm believer in the 2" brush. If it's a small enough area that the paint peeled off of, you can also apply a thin layer of spackle to even things out and then repaint the affected area.
    – Doresoom
    Commented Jan 4, 2011 at 14:50
  • 2
    Do you ever use a shield (held with the other hand) to mask off the adjacent area? Commented Jan 5, 2011 at 15:28
  • alex - i have never used a shield, that could work.
    – mohlsen
    Commented Jan 5, 2011 at 18:38

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.

  • This is a duplicate of my answer on the other question.
    – Niall C.
    Commented Jan 4, 2011 at 3:38
  • I agree with Niall, always pull tape while paint is still wet. Also, use good grade low tack or delicate tape like 3M. Pulling off paint is common with ceiling paint (extremely thin,low bond) or any paint that is relatively fresh or not well cured or bonded to the base. Test tape on a small area before doing a large run. Commented Jan 7, 2011 at 13:18

I find that using a hairdryer to warm the tape helps it to peel away with very little force and no damage


For removing tape without damaging the finish it is stuck to, I've found that if I pull the tape back over itself and run my hand parallel to the surface I get the best results. When removing tape, the natural tendency is to pull it perpendicular to the surface which puts the most stress on the underlying paint.

As already mentioned, most pros don't use tape. This may sound more difficult, but with a little practice it's not hard to master. It's also going to save you time. The Purdy paintbrush company has an excellent set of instructional videos with tips on how to cut in by hand. If you search for "purdy cutting in" you should find links to short little videos on the Purdy site as well as on YouTube.

One other tip that I learned from my painter is to caulk the corner between the ceiling and the walls to help get a nice crisp line. Depending on what type of texture is on the wall this can really help.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.