When do you remove the masking tape when painting?

Questions & AnswersCategory: Painting Tool Use and CareWhen do you remove the masking tape when painting?
Dolores asked 10 years ago

I always use painter’s tape especially when painting with dark colors. I gently removed the tape and it tore off a bunch of the paint.

I have been told to leave it until the paint is bone dry and I’ve also been told to remove it immediately after applying the paint. Which is it? Also, how do you prevent bleeding? I have chosen to paint feature walls black and the paint bled.

14 Answers
Crowder Painting answered.

Actually, both are right. Normally I remove the tape right after I've finished painting. But if I can't, I leave the tape attached until the paint has dried. As you have found out the paint can be torn off a short while after application. Modern acrylic paint dries quickly but still needs time to fully adhere to the surface. Generally, if the tape can't be removed within 30 minutes after application it is best to wait for a few hours.

Bleed through is another problem that is difficult to control. I use the tape as a guide for cutting and apply the paint in thin coats instead of one thick one. Some bleeding is probably inevitable, but carefully brushing thin coats and not piling the paint into the tape will minimize this.

Anonymous answered.

Tape peeling and bleeding

To keep paint from peeling off when removing tape, simply take a utility knife and gently score along the edge of the tape. Don't press so hard that it cuts into your drywall, though. Then slowly peel the tape away.

To prevent bleeding of your paint under the tape if you're doing stripes or something like that, go over the edges of the tape with a light coating of paint medium from your local art store. Paint medium is what artists mix with their paints before painting canvasses. Don't mix this with your paint, simply paint it straight from the bottle onto the tape – it dries clear, so the only thing that's going to bleed under the tape is going to be clear. Make sure to get matte if you're painting flat colors, glossy if you're painting glossy, etc.

Once that artist medium has dried, then paint over it with whatever color you want. You will have zero bleed through.

Anonymous answered.

A few more ideas for taping

The paint you're using can be an issue also. Maybe someone can comment on this further since I'm no expert in paint bases. But some colors that require a medium base for example or need a lot of tint added to them, result in a thicker paint and I've had issues with bleeding etc.
When this starts happening, I only paint one coat over the tape (I like to remove it after say 15 minutes) and use the line as a guide for the second coat.

Another thing to consider is the quality of paint and how you are working with it. It is always a good idea to use premium paints, keep whatever paint you're using covered and work out of a small pail/bucket. Cheap paints often break down as soon as you start using them, resulting in a bogery, clotty mess. Adding Floetrol can help if your paint starts to thicken.

I also avoid going directly over the tape with a loaded brush. I either wipe both sides on the bucket or brush the excess out higher on the wall before going over the tape. Light coats also dry quicker which helps.

Taping is not perfect by any means. I consider myself pretty good at it. It saves me time, but there will always be touch up.

Anonymous answered.

Paint lines

I had the same problem with paint coming off with the masking tape. Now I have a jagged paint line where the paint came off. I've tried getting rid of if by gently sanding the line and repainting just that area a couple of time but you can still see where the paint was pulled off. Any ideas how I can get rid of this?

Crowder Painting answered.

Try spackling

You can try to cover up the line left by the removed paint with spackling. You will have to retexture this area if your walls have some kind of texture. Sanding new paint, especially Latex, is really hard to do.