Other than maybe a brush, tape is easily the most used tool in a painter’s arsenal.
Armed with quality painter’s tape, the knowledge of how to use it and knowing which tape works best in different scenarios, a painter can create perfect lines on nearly any surface.
The trick is to know the best painter’s tape to use on each surface you plan to paint on. One tape may work great on floors and terrible on windows, while another may be perfect for concrete and terrible on trim.
Once you know the best paint for each surface, you can know confidently that this tape won’t allow paint to leak, it won’t come off while painting and it won’t leave behind a residue when the job is completed.
- Painter’s Tapes Considered
- Best Painter’s Tape for Taping Trim
- Best Painter’s Tape for Painting Stripes
- Best Painter’s Tape for Windows
- Best Painter’s Tape For Exterior Painting
- Best Painter’s Tape for Concrete
- Best Painter’s Tape for Floors
- Blue vs Green vs White vs Black Tape
- How To Get The Best Results From Your Painter’s Tape
The Painter’s Tapes I Considered
While there are many different brands of painter’s tape out there, I decided to limit the best painter’s tape for each category to tapes that you can easily find at your local stores such as Sherwin Williams, Home Depot, Lowes and Amazon. If you don’t have easy access to them, then there is no point in me discussing them here.
With that being said, here are the different painter’s tapes I am choosing from for each project:
Scotch Blue Original
Scotch Blue Original has been the leading selling painter’s tape for over 30 years. It is a great all-purpose tape at a decent price.
It has good adhesion and good release without damaging surfaces. It also has a 14-day clean removal (meaning it won’t leave residue behind).
Scotch Blue Original is an affordable tape that I can tape off everything in a house with. It’s not best at anything, but also not the worst. If I need 10 rolls for a big project, I can afford it. It’s the perfect general tape to keep stocked in your home.
On certain surfaces, I have experienced less than perfect adhesion which allowed for paint to seep through the tape and onto the surface I am trying to protect.
I have also experienced residue left behind on windows, or very poor release.
Frog Tape Multi-Surface Painter’s Tape
Frog Tape Multi Surface is a unique Painter’s Tape that has a few nice benefits.
First, it’s a reasonably priced tape. I have no issue buying Frog Tape in bulk for a big project.
Second, it has a patented paint block technology. According to Frog Tape, when their tape comes into contact with latex paint (which is most all house paints), it reacts with a polymer on the tape that instantly gels to the surface, creating a perfect paint line.
Last, Frog Tape has a 21-day clean release, medium adhesion and comes in a nice plastic case (which can be handy for other things).
Duck Clean Release Blue Painter’s Tape
I consider Duck Painter’s Tape to be 100% on par with Scotch Blue Original. It also has good adhesion, release, and is an affordable everyday tape.
I won’t repeat myself, but my likes and dislikes are literally almost 100% the same as Scotch Blue.
I tend to choose Duck if the hardware store I am visiting stocks it vs Scotch tape.
Scotch Blue Trim & Baseboards
Scotch Blue Trim and Baseboards is a premium specialty painter’s tape designed specifically for taping off the trim and baseboards in your home.
This tape has a medium adhesion, which is slightly higher the Scotch Blue Original. This means you should get better adhesion on your trim which should stop paint from seeping through onto your trim and baseboards.
It also has Scotch’s Edge-Lock technology which expands the edge of the tape and helps seal out the paint.
This tape is also great for glass and metal and has a 14 day clean release.
Scotch Trim and Baseboards actually has a little bit of stretch to it, this makes it easier to tape around curves when needed (which happens every now and then).
The only real negative of this product is the price tag. This tape can get expensive.
Scotch Blue Walls and Wood Floors
Scotch Blue Walls and Wood Floors is one of my top go to tapes.
This tape offers 60 days of clean release and has a medium adhesion.
I like to use this tape on floors (which you can read more about down below) because of it’s 60-day release.
I don’t do striped walls often, but when I have, this is again, my go-to tape due to its clean release and that it won’t damage the walls.
Frog Tape Delicate Surface Painter’s Tape
Frog Tape Delicate Surface tape has all the same benefits of regular Frog Tape, such as the Paint Block Technology.
What makes this paint unique is it’s 60-day clean release, meaning it releases easier and is perfect for freshly painted surfaces or delicate surfaces.
Scotch Platinum Interior Painter’s Tape
Scotch Blue Platinum Interior is kind of the Cadillac of painter’s tapes and comes with the appropriate price tag.
What makes this tape unique is a couple of different things. First, it easily tears clean 90-degree tears. If you’ve done a lot of taping, you know how handy this can be!
Second, it doesn’t have a paper backing, but rather more of a rubber-like backing. How this benefits you is that when you paint over it, the tape won’t absorb any paint, which can often cause the tape to lift off the surface it was sticking to. This means perfect adhesion during the entire project.
Finally, the tape has stretch to it, allowing it to easily form around curves.
Other than that you can expect similar adhesion and a 14-day clean removal.
Scotch Platinum Exterior Painter’s Tape
If you’ve ever painted an exterior and had a rainstorm come in the middle of your job, you’ll understand why this tape is so great.
Scotch Platinum Exterior Painter’s Tapeis made to adhere and stay strong in rain, sun, humidity, and wind. When normal tapes get wet, they swell up and lose their adhesion. Normal tapes also break down in direct sunlight and leave a messy residue on the surface when you go to remove them (or they don’t remove at all!).
Platinum Exterior has a 7-day clean removal and is perfect for exterior windows, vinyl, wood, and metal.
Scotch Rough Surface Painter’s Tape
What do you do when you need to tape off concrete or stucco when painting an exterior? Many people try to use Duct Tape only to find out that Duct Tape leaves a sticky residue behind and doesn’t seal edges very well. Duct Tape isn’t made for painting.
Rough Surface Painter’s Tape has a 3-day clean release (so don’t leave it on too long!) and high adhesion.
The Best Painter’s Tape For Taping Trim
When taping trim, you have to be careful not to use an overly sticky tape and run the risk of pulling off the finish already on your trim.
Thankfully, pulling paint off of trim isn’t too common as long as it hasn’t been painted too recently. Pulling off the clear coat is even less common.
Taping off all the trim in a house also requires quite a bit of tape. If you’re painting an entire home, you can easily find yourself going through six rolls of tape, so the cost of tape has to be considered as well.
An ideal trim tape, is cost-effective, has decent adhesion, good release and doesn’t allow the paint to seep underneath the tape.
Check out our complete guide to Painting Trim and Baseboards.
Our Choice: Scotch Platinum Interior
When you consider the entire cost of interior painting, the tape is a minor expense, even premium tape like Platinum Interior.
Platinum Interior is my top choice for taping trim because you don’t need to be perfect to get perfect results. The clean ripping edge is incredibly handy and my favorite feature is that it doesn’t lose adhesion when it gets paint on it (which many tapes do).
Runner’s Up For Taping Trim
#2 Scotch Blue Trim and Baseboard: If Scotch Platinum isn’t available at my store, this is usually my second choice. It produces great sharp lines and is easy to use.
#3 Frog Tape Multi-Surface Painter’s Tape: Frog Tape works beautifully and leaves crisp lines. It gets the edge over Scotch Blue Original and Duck Clean Release for it’s Paint Block technology.
#4 Scotch Blue Original: The original painter’s tape is a great tape for taping trim and I use it often with great results.
#5 Duck Clean Release Blue Painter’s Tape: Good quality tape at a cheap price. Great for large jobs, apartments, older homes.
The Best Painter’s Tape For Painting Stripes and Lines
When you are painting stripes on walls, you need a paint that will leave perfectly crisp lines while having a low enough adhesion and release so that it doesn’t damage the wall when you remove the tape.
Best Tape For Stripes: Scotch Blue Walls and Wood Floors
Scotch Blue Walls and Wood Floors is my favorite tape for doing stripes and other designs on already painted walls.
Painted walls are easy to damage with normal masking tapes and painter’s tapes. The paint can come off and even worse the sheetrock paper can come off with the paint.
Scotch Blue Walls and Wood is delicate enough to safely pull off painted walls, yet will create sharp lines with no seepage.
Runner Up For Painting Stripes
Frog Tape Delicate Surface is another great tape for painting stripes on interior walls.
What makes this tape great for stripes is that it creates sharp lines, has a 60-day clean release and comes in at a relatively affordable price.
The Best Painter’s Tape For Windows
Taping windows can create some serious headaches! The UV rays from the sun can easily break down adhesives on tapes and cause them to leave behind residue or even worse, not peel off the window at all.
If you’ve taped a lot of windows as I have, you’ve probably experienced having to use razor blades to clean tape residue off windows. Trust me, this is not fun!
Check out our post on How To Repair Water Damaged Window Sashes.
Our Choice: Scotch Blue Trim and Baseboards
This tape is perfect for taping off glass windows when you are enameling (painting) the window sash.
A problem that often happens is the UV rays and heat from the sun break down tape on glass windows and cause it to have terrible removal and leave behind a sticky residue.
Scotch Blue Trim and Baseboard has a medium adhesion and edge lock technology which means it will stick well to your windows and not allow the paint to seep through.
With a 14 day clean removal, you won’t have any problems removing this tape after a long painting project.
Runner’s Up For Taping Windows
#1 Frog Tape Multi Surface Painter’s Tape: Frog Tape Painter’s Tape is a wonderful general purpose tape that is great for use on glass.
#2 Scotch Blue Original: The original Scotch Blue is also a great general purpose tape that works well on glass. Make sure not to leave it on too long though as it can start to break down and have some removal issues due to UV rays.
The Best Painter’s Tape For Exterior Painting
Exterior painting requires a different type of tape than you would use on an interior. Exterior tapes are subject to direct UV light from the sun, rain, heavy moisture and changing temperatures.
Because of all these elements, you need a painter’s tape that can not only withstand them but still perform to high standards.
Our Choice: Scotch Platinum Exterior
Scotch Platinum Exterior is designed specifically for use on exterior surfaces such as wood, metal, vinyl, and windows while being able to withstand exterior elements such as rain, humidity, and sunlight.
All of this while still allowing safe removal for up to 7 days.
Personally, this is the only tape I use on exteriors anymore. I have had plenty of experience in the past of tapes leaving behind residue and ruining exterior surfaces when left in the hot sun! In the past, I would not tape anything that I could not finish the same day and remove the tape.
Exterior Tape Runner Up
Frog Tape Multi-Surface Painter’s Tape: Frog Tape is a great general purpose tape that actually holds up surprisingly well on exterior surfaces.
The Best Painter’s Tape For Concrete and Stucco
Concrete can prove to be very difficult to get good adhesion with your tape while not allowing any paint seepage.
First, concrete (and stucco) is often times rough and tape doesn’t conform well to its surface and thus doesn’t create a great seal.
Second, concrete is very rarely clean and free from debris, which also makes adhesion hard.
Our Choice: Scotch Rough Surface Painter’s Tape
This rough surface painter’s tape has high adhesion and flexibility that allows it to not only stick to rough surfaces like concrete but also flex around the irregularities in those surfaces.
It is important to remember that this tape only has a 3-day clean release though. When I use it, I try not to tape beyond what I can finish in one day.
Scotch Platinum Exterior: This tape is a great exterior tape and although It wouldn’t be my first choice for concrete, it does work if you don’t have any Scotch Rough Surface tape handy.
The Best Painter’s Tape For Floors
Taping floors can go wrong really fast if you’re using the wrong tape. Obviously, paint can easily seep under the tape and get on your floor if you are painting your trim.
What many people don’t realize is that tape on your floor can over-bond to the floor quite easily. This happens from walking on the tape repeatedly and creating areas where the tape either refuses to come off or leaves behind sticky residue. Either way, if you use the wrong tape, getting it off your floor can prove to very difficult.
Our Choice: Scotch Blue Walls and Wood Floors
What makes this tape a clear choice for taping floors is the fact that it has a 60-day clean release. I don’t know for sure, but I do think that pressure from walking on the tape lower’s the clean release number, but it would do that to all tapes.
In my experience, I have had a great release from this painter’s tape on jobs lasting 2-3 weeks.
Scotch Blue Walls and Wood Floors also has Scotch’s edge lock and should keep paint from seeping under it and onto your floors.
#1 Frog Tape Multi-Surface Painter’s Tape: I will happily use Frog Tape on floors, but I will not leave it on as long as I would Scotch Blue Walls and Floors. Typically no longer than 1 week.
#2 Scotch Blue Original: This tape will work fine on floors, but again, I believe 1 week is as long as you should trust it to remove properly (unless there is no foot traffic on that tape).
Blue vs Green vs White vs Black Painter’s Tape
I get asked quite often what the difference between green painter’s tape, blue, white and black are. Honestly, it’s just the pigments that the manufacturer decides to use.
The only real reason for different colors is to help differentiate tapes quickly and easily. 3M can place any adhesive on any color of tape. Though many of these different colored tapes need to be specially ordered or found directly on 3M’s website.
How To Get The Best Results From Your Painter’s Tape
No matter how good your tape is, if you don’t use it right, you won’t get good results. Here’s a few tips to make sure you are getting the best results from your painter’s tape.
Clean The Surface
Before you tape off any surface you need to make sure it is clean and free from dirt and debris. This will ensure proper adhesion of the surface to the tape.
For trim, I prefer to shop vac all the trim and then wipe it down with a wet rag and allow it to dry.
For greasy kitchen cabinets, you should wash them with a warm soapy water and then rinse with clean water and allow to dry.
Tape in Small Sections
Controlling your tape and getting exactly on the edge of your surface takes practice and patience. Take your time, go slow and do small sections at a time. It is better to do it right rather than fast!
Press The Edges
After you tape off an area, whether glass, trim, cabinets or anything else, you must go back and firmly press the edge that will come in contact with wet paint. This will ensure a firm and complete bond with the surface.
For this, I like to use a 1″ mud knife.
Re-Press In Between Coats
Often times paint can come loose after the first coat. I like to double check all my tape after the first coat of paint and re-press as needed.
Remove The Tape While The Paint Is Still Wet (or completely dry)
Once you have completed your paint job, to get the best lines possible you should pull your tape while the paint is technically still wet. Not completely wet though, right before it is dry to the touch. This keeps paint from peeling off the painted surface and gives you sharp, crisp lines.
The other option is to let your paint completely dry (1 day or more) and then pull your tape. This almost never works as well as pulling while still wet though.
Using the right painter’s tape, in the right situation, and in the right way will help ensure that your painting job turns out amazing!
If you found this information useful, I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below!
Check out our Exterior Painting page for even more information on exterior painting, paints, and products.
I started painting in 2001 and have seen just about everything in my painting career. I started in production and commercial painting, then moved over to new construction and remodeling during the boom of the early 2000s. Post 2010, I niched down into residential painting where I have done everything from exteriors, decks, interiors, furniture and more. Over the last few years, I’ve had a focus on kitchen cabinets.
I started the DIY Painting Tips blog in 2015 to start sharing everything I’ve learned over the years and help all the people who’d rather tackle their painting projects themselves.
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