When to use painter’s tape: do you need painter’s tape?

I paint the walls in my apartment so often that people often make the mistake of thinking myself such as paint. I clarify: I don’t like to paint. I find it to be one of the more tedious home improvement tasks because it requires tons of preparation, specific tools, and that the furniture is in a messed up state until finished. What I really like is to easily change the mood in my home and painting, while annoying, is still one of the easiest (and cheapest!) Ways to do it.

Everyone has their preferences for painting, though, and many people swear up and down that you have to tape every last piece of your home, while others say duct tape is a complete waste of time.

So what is it? The answer: it depends.

It is necessary to register everything before painting A lot working on the front end of a project, but many would argue that it’s worth it to get the exact result you want. The other main method of getting a sharp line is “cutting,” which uses an angled brush loaded with paint to carefully cut out a straight edge. This is the go-to for professional painters, because once lowered, the process is much quicker than using tape.

Personally, I have found that the tape doesn’t always work as well as I would like. I’ve been burned too many times where the darker color smears on the original white walls, so I usually use a hybrid of duct tape and cut.

Pro of tape

  • You can get a super straight line if you are painting a mural or half wall.
  • The surfaces you don’t want to paint on are mostly protected.
  • The strangely satisfying experience of peeling the tape to reveal a clean line.

Cons of tape

  • Recording everything at the beginning requires long time and it must be exact.
  • If you use an inferior brand of tape, the paint is likely to bleed.
  • Even if you’re using the best painter’s tape in the world, there will likely be some imperfections.

Pros of cutting

  • No real prep involved – just load the brush with paint and go.
  • You can get into all the random nooks and crannies that a paint roller can’t.
  • It’s meditative once you take it by the hand.

Cons of cutting

  • It takes some practice and patience.
  • At first, you may find that your hand isn’t steady enough for a super clean line, but practice will help.

How to tape before painting

There are a few places in your home that you will want to use tape, especially if you are a beginner. I personally always tape the corners where two walls meet if I paint just one of those walls, over cabinets and appliances that lean against the wall, and sometimes onto the door trim when there is a particularly small angle between the trim and the wall.

I highly I recommend investing in Frog Tape, which is a personal and industry favorite over all other brands – it’s famous for how sharp lines you can get. But even Frog Tape could use a little insurance (because the walls are uneven and the paint tends to bleed), and this is where your original color comes in handy. After removing everything with masking tape, paint a line of the original paint color on the tape. This acts as a seal between the new paint color and the old, so anything that would bleed under the tape is actually just the original color. Oh, and always peel off the masking tape at a 90 degree angle while the paint is still wet.

How to cut

For the ceilings, most of the finishes and around the sockets, I cut with a brush. There’s certainly nothing wrong with using duct tape around those areas, so if you’re unsure of your cutting skills, take the extra time to record.

Cutting is a simple process, but it takes practice to really nail it, plus a high-quality angled brush that’s comfortable to hold. The good news is that big brushes don’t have to spend a fortune – my favorite brush is this little Wooster that is snug and fits perfectly in my hand. I also like to use a paint cup with a handle for loading and unloading paint; this comes with a super handy magnet to hold the brush in place when not in use.

I recommend that you watch some YouTube videos on how to cut, like this or this, and practice on an area that you will either repaint or don’t mind ruining. The basic idea is this: Load the brush with paint, drain the excess, then press the angled brush as you go to push the paint in a straight line, against the edge, or into a corner. Start a few inches from the edge and slowly work your way up to get a sharp line, frequently reloading the brush to keep the paint running smoothly. Some painters moisten the brush with water first to protect the bristles and dilute the paint a little for a smoother stroke.

A couple more options

There is a trick to everything, including painting, so it should come as no surprise that there are tools for painting straight lines or around the liner without having to apply masking tape. or intervene. I haven’t tried these methods on my own, but they look pretty damn great. For walls around appliances or finishes, this painting guide acts as a barrier with the added benefit of revealing a straight line when you’re done, although I imagine it’s best for small areas.

For window cladding, there is a very interesting product called Mask & Peel that is applied over the cladding and window where they overlap, let it dry, then effortlessly paint over it to draw straight lines. Then, once the paint is dry, use a razor to score where the window and trim meet and peel off the product to reveal perfectly clean lines.


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