The history of painter's tape goes back to 1925 when scientist Richard Drew created the masking tape formula. Several decades later, the variation of painter’s tape was developed. The product is credited with transforming the painting industry by helping professionals and armatures alike paint straight lines and angles. Today, painter’s tape is widely available, and it's manufactured by various companies.

Masking Tape vs. Painter's Tape

It might seem like you could use masking tape instead of painter’s tape for a painting project, but the two products are not the same. There are important differences between them. Manufacturers make painter’s tape from materials that are strong enough to repel paint. Masking tape is typically more delicate and more likely to permit paint to pass through it onto your walls or ceilings.

Masking tape often splits off randomly when you tear it. This makes it tougher to cover surfaces thoroughly using it. After a painting project is completed, painter’s tape is designed to pull away from the surface clean without leaving any residue or tape debris. Masking tape will leave adhesive and tape bits attached to the surface when you remove it.

How to Apply Painter’s Tape on Different Surfaces

What types of surfaces can you apply painter’s tape to? Common surfaces include:

  • Ceilings
  • Corner walls
  • Trim and baseboards
  • Metal

Before starting any painting job, be sure to prep the area thoroughly by cleaning the surface. Make sure that it's free of dust. This is an especially important job when you’re using tape because, if you don’t clean first, then the tape won’t stick well to the surface. Once you’ve cleaned, give the area time to dry.[3]


Are you wondering how to apply painter's tape to a ceiling? When you’re painting the walls in a room, be sure to tape off the ceiling. Rip off 1-foot sections of tape. Strips this size are easier to manage. Place the 1-foot strips along the edge of the ceiling in a straight line. Begin at the middle of each strip and smooth it down the ceiling using your finger or a putty knife.

If a tape section begins to bubble or flattens against the ceiling unevenly, then remove it and reapply. If your home features crown molding or another kind of trim that borders the ceiling, then you’ll need to apply painter’s tape to protect the ceiling.

It’s easy to think that you won’t notice white trim paint along a ceiling that’s also painted white, but most people paint trim a different gloss than the ceiling or the walls. Trims are usually covered in a semi-gloss paint while ceilings are typically painted with a flat paint.

If you’re painting a ceiling, then protect the walls. This is especially important if you’ve just painted the walls. Likewise, if your room features crown molding, then use tape to protect the trim’s color.

If you’re painting a room that doesn’t have an upper trim, then apply painter’s tape on the walls where the wall meets the ceiling. If you’ve just painted the walls, then confirm that they are completely dry before applying the tape.

Make sure that the painter’s tape is flush against the ceiling’s edge. Also, check for ripples or bubbles in the tape. Be patient when applying the tape. It’s important to apply it evenly and straight.

Inside Corner Walls

How about using painter's tape inside corner walls? When it comes to applying tape inside corners, there’s a technique to it. Apply the first tape section up the wall and use a putty knife to adhere the tape into the corner. Then, use a sharp utility knife to cut down the crease. Remove the cut tape section. After removing it, you’ll be ready to apply the next piece.

When you need to change a paint color along an inside corner, it’s often a struggle to keep the line straight. This is especially the case with rounded corners or when a wall has layers of paint. The best technique for these situations is to use the first paint color and paint around the corner. Once the paint dries, tape off the painted part with edge-sealing painter’s tape.

Avoid taping along the corner. Instead, shift the tape in slightly from the corner. That way, you’ll be able to get the line perfectly straight. It won’t be noticeable that one paint color reaches a little past the corner, and you’ll enjoy a straight clean color change. To get the tape straight, use a putty knife.

Trim and Baseboards

When you’re applying painter’s tape to the trim and the baseboards, make sure that the floor is clean. Then, apply a piece of tape along the floor edge where the baseboards and the ground connect. Tape in 1-foot sections. If you have carpeting, then use a putty knife to slide the tape around the edge of the carpet to protect it from the paint.


If you need to paint around metal components, you need to know how to apply painter's tape to metal. When you need to cover metal sections, such as doorknobs and hinges, use an exterior painter’s tape. This type of tape features a high adhering level that will protect these areas. You can also get tape that comes in different widths, so be sure to purchase a width that provides extensive coverage.

How to Remove Painter's Tape

When you’re ready to remove painter’s tape, slowly tug it away from the surface while holding the edge of the tape at around a 45-degree angle. If there are sections that won’t peel away from the surface easily, then use a putty knife.

When to Remove Painter's Tape

Be sure to remove painter’s tape right after you’re finished painting the space. Painter’s tape can usually remain on a surface for several hours or even a few days following a painting job without causing damage to the underlying surface. However, for the best results, take it off as soon as possible.

How to Choose a Painter’s Tape

The best painter's tape for a space depends on the space and the types of surfaces that you’re painting. Purchase a multipurpose painter’s tape for basic household painting projects. This type of tape features a medium adhering level.

If you’re painting a wall that’s textured, then get painter’s tape that features a higher adhering level. Most painter’s tape brands sell high-adhesion tape in bright green.

If you’re painting something delicate and are worried that you’ll damage the surface with the tape, then purchase delicate-surface tape. You’re likely to find that this type of tape is purple.

Paint is a great way to add personality to a room, and painter’s tape will help you do this. You can use this type of tape to form different patterns. Consider painting stripes, color blocks, or even a gingham pattern in a room.

Make Painting Easier With Painter's Tape

When you are using tape for clean, neat painting, take your time and use utility tools as needed. When you take the time to apply painter’s tape carefully, you’ll make your painting job easier. It will also look professional. Painter’s tape comes in different varieties, which will allow you to get the right product for the job. Painter’s tape is available from True Value. Check here to locate a store near you.