Matt is a professional painter and freelance writer, sharing his knowledge, house-painting tips, and product reviews.
The 3M Hand Masker Tape Dispenser
The 3M hand masker was one of the first hand tools I ever used for masking windows and walls as an apprentice when I first started painting. In fact, I still own and use that same masker I used fifteen years ago, and it still works. Paint preparation isn't fun, but doing it with this tool makes the process much faster and easier, especially if you need to do a lot of masking.
This tool allows you to stick your tape and roll of plastic onto the surface simultaneously, instead of having to do it separately. I use the 3M hand masker for everything from keeping ceiling paint off finished walls, to covering appliances and furniture. For cabinet spray painting, I use it all the time to mask kitchen walls and the inside of the cabinet boxes.
Using 3M Masking Film
The rolls of 3M masking film are used exclusively with their masker. The film rolls come in different sizes. It's important to choose the right size for what you're masking, so you're not wasting a lot of plastic.
The 99-inch rolls are great for covering walls when needed. For eight-foot walls, the 99-inch rolls, taped at the ceiling corner, unfold all the way down to the baseboard. I use these rolls when painting ceilings over finished walls, or for turning a room into a spray booth on-site. I can easily cover furniture with this size.
For windows and cabinets:
The 48-inch and 72-inch rolls work well for masking windows when spraying. The 48-inch size is perfect for covering the opening of a cabinet wall box for spray painting.
Outside vs. in:
The plastic thickness is very thin, making it difficult to work with outside if it's windy. Air suction tends to tear the tape from the surface, but one way to help prevent that is to cut slits in the center of the film.
Is it cheap?
Price wise, the rolls of 3M masking film aren't exactly cheap, but not super expensive either. The amount of time it saves makes it a worthwhile investment for a painter like me who does masking all the time. The most expensive rolls, the 99-inch rolls, are around $17 each, as of this writing. If you're masking frequently, buying a case ends up being a little cheaper than buying individual rolls.
How to Use the 3M Hand Masker
Using this masker for the first time takes a little practice to get a feel for dispensing the taped plastic and cutting it off with the blade. Word of caution: The blade is extremely sharp. If you hang this tool from your belt, you have to be careful not to cut your hand when reaching down.
- To cut a piece of plastic off, you have to twist the masker hard and fast enough to cut all the way through the film in one twist; otherwise, it gets snagged on the blade, creating a mess. It takes a while to get used to it.
- When masking walls from a ladder, once the plastic is taped into the ceiling corner, carefully unfold the plastic from the ladder instead of doing it while standing. Unfolding the plastic while standing tends to pull the tape off the wall, especially from inside wall corners.
The only minor complaint I have about this tool is that it's made mostly out of plastic, except the blade. I dropped mine once and broke off a small plastic piece that helps keep the tape in place. The plastic parts make it lighter to carry around, but metal would make it more heavy duty.
The 3M hand masker is one of my most useful tools for paint prep. I hate masking, but this tool makes it less annoying. If you're a painter or have projects that require lots of masking, this tool saves a lot of time and energy. I can't imagine masking off walls and windows with tape and plastic separately.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2018 Matt G.