Matt is a professional painter and freelance writer, sharing his knowledge, house-painting tips, and product reviews.
Choosing the Right Masking Tape for Painting
Unless you have the skills to cut in a straight line, painter's tape is essential for not only achieving sharp, crisp lines, but protecting trim or baseboard from paint splatter and paint bleeding when rolling walls.
The various tape colors and sizes can make it confusing when selecting the right product. Using the right tape saves time and reduces touch-up work due to paint-bleed and sticky residue. I'll share my experience with different products so you can make the best choice for your painting project.
Best Painter's Tape Review 2019
|FrogTape Multi-Surface "Green"||FrogTape Delicate Surface "Yellow"||3M ScotchBlue Original Multi-Use|
Glass or Cold-Weather Application
Safe Application on Fresh Paint (24-Hour Drying Time)
Delicate Surfaces (Wallpaper, Floors, Wood)
Priming and Window Sash
FrogTape Painter's Tape Review
Green FrogTape, often referred to as green painter's tape, is an excellent product I've used many times over the years. This product is a little more expensive than ScotchBlue painter's tape, but the adhesion is stronger for a tighter seal.
FrogTape Multi-Surface (Green)
When not in use, this tape should always be stored in the plastic container it comes in to prevent the adhesive from drying out. Here's my review of how green FrogTape performs:
- Wall-Striping: This product is a must for wall-striping when sharp lines are crucial. I've done several wall-striping projects, and paint-bleed is almost completed eliminated with this tape.
- Trim and Windows: Green tape is good for covering trim edges for wall painting, but not fresh paint because it can lift paint from the surface when pulled off. FrogTape also performs better than the Scotch brand for masking glass on wood windows, especially if it's cold outside. Blue tape does not stick well to cold glass.
FrogTape Delicate Surface (Yellow)
The reduced adhesion of yellow FrogTape is best for taping over fresh paint or delicate surfaces which could otherwise be damaged using tape that's too sticky. An example would be masking the sides of stained cabinets. Sticking regular blue painter's tape on the side of a cabinet box for a few days could tear the veneer off when removed. Here's my review of how yellow FrogTape performs:
- Cabinets and Fresh Paint: I recently painted the walls and cabinets in a kitchen using yellow FrogTape to mask the freshly painted walls along the cabinet edges. When the tape was pulled off several days later, no paint from the cabinets bled underneath onto the walls, and the tape did not tear off any of the wall paint either. This product is safe for use on fresh paint that has dried for at least 24 hours.
- Wallpaper: Low-adhesion tape is best when taping over wallpaper. Thin wallpaper can tear or the print on the surface can come off if the wrong tape is used.
- Flooring: When freshly stained floors need to be masked for wall or trim painting, tape for delicate surfaces is ideal, especially if the floors will be covered for any length of time.
3M ScotchBlue Painter's Tape Review
The 3M ScotchBlue brand is the most common masking tape for painting walls and trim. When rolling walls, the regular blue is what I use the most to cover the top of the baseboard, and it works fine for that. I also use it for taping off the sides of door frames. I use it with the 3M masking machine.
Combination Tape and Masking Film Dispenser
The 3M Hand-Masker is probably one of the most useful paint prep tools in my tool bag. I've had mine now for over ten years, and it still works great. The tool applies the tape and masking film to the surface at the same time instead of having to do both tasks separately. Regular blue tape is the best choice when using the 3M masking machine to mask surfaces for spraying or rolling. The tape comes off the roll nicely in the machine without tearing like white masking tape.
Here's my review of how 3M ScotchBlue painter's tape performs:
- Interior Trim and Corners: Blue tape is good for taping interior trim and corners when painting an accent wall. The trick to getting a tight seal with this product is to press along the edges with a five-in-one tool or flat-head screwdriver. Doing this almost completely eliminates bleeding paint.
- Multi-Purpose Use: This product is thicker and easier to work with than flimsy FrogTape, and it costs less, but it doesn't always stick well in colder temperatures. Oil primer also tends to leak through easily in my experience. For priming and painting window sash, green FrogTape Multi-Surface is the better option.
What About ScotchBlue Walls + Wood Floors Painter's Tape?
Like FrogTape, ScotchBlue Walls + Wood Floors does the same thing, but this product is not sold in the stores near me and is not locally available, so I use FrogTape Delicate Surface.
What Is the Best Painter's Tape for Concrete or Brick?
Regular blue tape doesn't have strong enough adhesion to stick well to concrete or brick, so Scotch Hard-to-Stick Surfaces is the best choice when taping lines on a garage floor for epoxy or for masking brick on a chimney. You can also use it to cover concrete beneath wood columns or garage door frames when painting.
ScotchBlue vs. FrogTape: Which One Is Better?
ScotchBlue and green FrogTape are often locally available, but I use ScotchBlue painter's tape the most because it costs less and performs well when used correctly. But for wall-striping and situations where I cannot risk paint or primer bleed, green FrogTape is awesome. I really like FrogTape Delicate Surfaces, and I use it a lot when taping floors, cabinets, and freshly painted walls.
The best product to use depends on what you're covering. For the ease of masking trim, I prefer regular BlueScotch. The tape is thicker and easier to work with, and it won't twist or crease as easily.
Always be sure to choose your tape type based on your paint project—are you painting drywall, wood, metal, wallpaper, etc.? Consider the details.
I use ScotchBlue painter's tape the most because it costs less and performs well when used correctly.
Video: Consumer Reports on Painter's Tape
What Is the Difference Between Painter's Tape and Masking Tape?
All painter's tape is classified as masking tape, but not all masking tape or white tape is high quality enough to be categorized as painter's tape. While all masking tape is made with crepe-paper backing, painter's tape is made with a more durable backing. This durable backing prevents the wrinkling, residue, and tearing that commonly occurs with general-purpose masking tape.
How Is Masking Tape Rated?
Selecting the right painter's tape depends on the surface you are working with and the paint job. Masking tape is rated by how many days the tape can be left on a masked surface without leaving a residue. Common pressure-sensitive adhesive (PSA) tape ratings include 1- 3- 7- 14- and 60-days with 7- and 14- being the most popular. Longer ratings, such as the 60-day, have less adhesive and work well for delicate surfaces compared to 1-day ratings which have high adhesion.
What Is the Best Painter's Tape for Crisp Lines and Stripes?
Green FrogTape Multi-Surface and ScotchBlue Original Multi-Use. ScotchBlue is generally half the price but delivers comparable results and crisp lines.
What Is the Best Painter's Tape for Textured Walls or Surfaces?
ScotchBlue tape works wonderfully for textured surfaces, but it's more about the technique. Treat the surface as you would a flat surface, making sure the application site is clean. Some choose to apply a thin amount of paintable caulk to seal the tape; you can smooth it with a rag and allow it to dry before painting over it.
What Is the Best Painter's Tape to Prevent Paint Bleeding?
Green FrogTape Multi-Surface is great, but it is also more costly than ScotchBlue. ScotchBlue does the job when used correctly.
What Is the Best Paint to Use for Painting Cars?
3M Auto Care Performance Masking Tape is commonly recommended for use with water or solvent-based paint. Be sure to select the correct paint according to your project.
What Is Kapton Tape Used for?
Kapton tape has a silicon-based adhesive and can withstand high temperatures. It is used for the manufacturing of fragile electrical components.
Video: How to Mask Before Painting
Painter's Tips for Successful Painting
Here are some tips for how to prep ceilings, floor trim, window door frames, tile, etc. in a room for a big paint project, including supplies and setup:
- painter's tape of choice
- damp cloth/sponge and gentle soap
- flexible putty knife or flathead screwdriver
- plastic sheeting, canvas tarp, or drop cloth
- utility knife
- 150-grit sandpaper block (oil-based or acrylic paints do not require sanding)
- 3M masking machine and masking film if using ScotchBlue
- PPE or personal protective equipment (mask or respirator, eye protection, and gloves if required)
How to Tape Off or Mask a Room for Painting
- Remove furniture or any objects from the room.
- Make sure any paint that you have applied has been able to dry out before proceeding; check the manufacturer's dry time.
- Optional: Using a damp 150-coarse-grit sanding block, sand down any surface areas that are rough. Be sure to wipe down walls with a clean sponge afterwards and let dry.
- If not sanding, wipe away dust and debris from the surface you wish to paint with a damp rag and allow the surface to dry completely.
- Vacuum any remaining debris.
- If not using the 3M masking machine and masking film, proceed to lay down 12-inch strips of tape along the wall, overlapping the edges. Long pieces of tape may cause warping or stretching, which allows for paint-bleed.
- Apply the tape as close to the wall as possible. Do not fold the remaining tape-lip over the baseboard (rolling the tape over the lip may cause paint to run). The lip will act as an extra barrier.
- Use a flat-head screwdriver or putty knife to embed the tape along the trim for precision; work it into the edge to maximize the tape's adhesion to prevent paint-bleed.
- Use a utility knife to miter the tape corners by cutting the tape at a 45-degree angle; apply to the corners of the room.
- Cover all exposed edges of wall mounts such as electrical box covers; you may choose to use paper or adhesive-edged plastic for covering.
- Remove cover plates and vents from walls; tape and cover the outlets. Tape the screws to the back of the cover plates to make sure all parts stay together.
- Set down a canvas tarp, drop cloth, or plastic sheeting to protect the floor.
- After the room is painted and the paint begins to dry, remove the tape promptly.
- Run a utility knife along the seem of the tape to score the edges and cut the paint film.
- Tear the tape off at a 135- to 180-degree angle for clean removal.
- Use warm water, dish soap, and a lint-free cloth to remove remaining sticky residue; paint-safe residue removal products are acceptable as well.
- Consider retaping between first and second applications.
How Much Paint Do I Need for Painting?
You might want to use a tape measure to measure the dimensions of the space ahead of time. 1 gallon of paint generally covers 400 square feet or a small room. This formula can be applied to larger spaces as well. Some websites offer calculators for precise measurements and surface area estimates. Also, consider how many coats of paint are needed.
Is It Bad to Paint in Direct Sunlight?
Yes. Direct sunlight may cause a number of problems with a paint project. The sun gives off heat and may cause the paint to dry too fast or unevenly leading to issues with adhesion, brush marks, or lap marks, which occur when wet and dry layers overlap due to inappropriate temperatures.
Mistakes to Avoid When Painting a Room
Here are some general tips and mistakes to avoid to make your paint project successful:
- Don't skip on primer. Primer ensures better adhesion and helps prep the surface.
- Don't guess. Test your paint color first and allow it to dry.
- Don't come up short. Calculate how much paint you need before starting.
- Don't skimp on protection. Wear personal protective equipment.
- Don't skip the details. Brush-paint all corners before rolling.
- Don't forget to prep. Prep your brushes and rollers (remove any debris, fibers, lint).
- Don't come up short. Use a ladder.
- Don't use Duct tape. Do not confuse Duck Brand Painter's Tape for Duct tape; the results could be disastrous.
Best of luck with your project!
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.
Questions & Answers
Question: I will be installing a very expensive paper weave metallic wallpaper. Baseboards will go in after paper install, unfortunately.. but I’m on contractors schedule.. what tape will be best to use on this delicate paper?
Answer: To be honest, I wouldn't personally stick any tape onto expensive wallpaper, but the yellow Frog tape for delicate surfaces has worked well for me. However, I've never used this tape on wallpaper, only painted surfaces. Yellow Frog tape is meant for use on delicate surfaces.
Question: I want to 'paint' tiles on my kitchen backsplash. In this article, you recommend Frog green tape for best 'bleed free' results. However, the fellow in the video clip recommends yellow Frog tape for easier removal and best results all around. Which color of Frog tape should I use?
Answer: Either color Frog tape will be fine, but if you need to apply the tape directly onto the painted tile, yellow is best. The yellow tape is for delicate surfaces. Both colors have the same technology to prevent bleed-through.
Question: What is the best tape when covering textured ceilings?
Answer: I would use either the green frog tape or the yellow frog tape (delicate surfaces). Frog tape is thin and easier to work into areas with bumpy surfaces. It sticks well and less likely to bleed paint.
Question: I’m about to paint my sons newly skimmed bedroom. It’s been mist coated and the ceiling painted. I’m not torn between which tape to use for my edges. I’ve used green frog tape before with great results but noticed last time I used it it was pulling the paint off underneath back to bare plaster. What tape would you recommend to avoid this?
Answer: I would use the yellow Frog tape. This tape is meant for use on delicate surfaces. The tape has the same paint blocking technology as the green Frog tape. The yellow version is a low tack tape that's less likely to pull paint off upon removal.
Question: What's the best tape for industrial textured floor?
Answer: Green Frog tape. With the textured surface of the floor being uneven, press the edge of the tape down to fill in gaps where paint could leak through.
© 2018 Matt G.
Charlie on August 26, 2018:
What is the best tape to use to cover textured celings?