When To Remove Painter's Tape

Couple Painting Wall
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Blue tape or painters tape is a fantastic tool to use for indoor paint projects.  Unlike older masking tape, it is easy to peel off and it removes without leaving residue.

But when should you remove it?  While the paint is still wet or after the paint is dry?

Bottom Line

It seems like you would want to remove the tape while the paint is still wet.  After all, tape cuts through wet paint easier than dry paint.

 Less resistance is better than more resistance.

Actually, the opposite is true.  It is generally cleaner and easier to remove painter's tape after the paint has fully dried.

Why You Should Do This

  • Removal Creates Mess:  When pulling down painter's tape, you are dealing with multiple yards of paint-laden tape, which inevitably will touch your nice, clean walls. A few fastidious people can juggle paint-soaked tape, while keeping the unpainted sections of their walls clean.  But it is difficult.
  • Seepage:  The very instant you remove the tape, wet paint may seep into your formerly taped-off area.  By keeping tape in place until the paint has dried, seepage is limited.
  • Tape Can Cut Through Paint:  Painters tape is actually strong enough to cut through one or two layers of dry latex paint.  While this does not seem possible, it is.  When you pull the tape away, the paint will slice neatly along the edges.  

    How to Do It

    Pull the painters tape away quickly, but not so quickly that you rip the tape. The tape will zip right through the paint.

    Yes, sometimes the tape will not slice neatly through. In this case, have a sharp utility knife or X-Acto on hand to cut the paint manually.  Then carefully pry off remaining sections of tape with the knife.