The Best Painter’s Tape for Your Next Project
For a professional-quality paint finish, start with the right painter's tape for your project. Ahead, read our top tips and recommendations for navigating the available options—and don't miss our roundup of top-favorite picks!
For a pro-quality paint job, you’ve got to focus on the areas you don’t want to paint as well as the ones you do. That’s where painter’s tape comes in.
A special kind of masking tape designed to be easily removed, painter’s tape is typically applied where two surfaces meet—for instance, where a wall meets crown molding. Once in place, the tape prevents paint from bleeding over into areas you did not intend to paint. Furthermore, once peeled off, the tape leaves the painted area with a crisp, even, and aesthetically pleasing border edge.
In other words, painter’s tape lets you work with confidence, leaving you with many fewer painting mistakes to correct and enabling you to work much more quickly than would be possible otherwise. Not all painter’s tapes are created equal, though.
To choose the best painter’s tape for your project, be sure to weigh the considerations outlined below, and don’t miss our top picks:
- BEST OVERALL: ScotchBlue Original Multi-Surface Painter’s Tape
- BEST FOR OUTDOOR USE: Scotch Painter’s Tape Scotch Exterior Surface Painter’s Tape
- BEST FOR WOODWORK: IPG ProMask Blue Premium 14-Day Masking Tape
- BEST FOR DELICATE SURFACES: FROGTAPE Delicate Surface Painter’s Tape
Key Considerations for Choosing the Right Painter’s Tape
How long your project will take to complete and cure may affect the type of painter’s tape you use. Check the packaging to determine how long adhesive backing will stay fresh and lift off easily without damaging the surface or splintering into pieces. Because of their stronger adhesives, waterproof and exterior tapes should be removed within seven days to prevent surface damage. A medium-adhesive, multipurpose tape should remove easily up to 14 days after it’s applied, even if exposed to direct sunlight. For delicate surfaces and detail jobs, low-adhesive painter’s tape can last up to 60 days, depending on the brand and degree of sun, heat, and humidity exposure. Label info will give you duration estimates, as well as any environmental factors that may impact tape effectiveness.
Painter’s tape has different degrees of stickiness and may be safely left in place for different periods of time. The guidelines below will help you choose the right adhesion strength.
- Low: A low-adhesion tape is best for delicate surfaces (and may be labeled as such), including faux finishes, wallpaper, and decorative or patterned paint jobs. These tapes can remain in place for a week to two months, depending on brand.
- Medium: A medium-adhesive, multipurpose tape suits most common indoor surfaces, such as drywall and plaster. It’s also a good choice for easily scratched surfaces, including painted and unpainted wood, metal, glass, and stone. These tapes can typically stay in place for up to two weeks.
- Heavy-duty: A heavy-duty adhesive (sometimes labeled “for exteriors”) is best for outdoor work, as well as for securing heavy drop cloths and protecting such stick-resistant surfaces as concrete, brick, stucco, and lacquered paints. Weather-resistant tapes should be removed within seven days.
- Special purpose: If your room has laminate or wood floors (unfinished, or coated in polyurethane or lacquer), protect the floors with rosin paper and tape specially designed for these materials.
To tape off windows, trim, and molding when painting walls, the ideal widths for the job are 1.41 and 1.88 inches. These popular widths create a perfect edge without covering too much of the surface you want to paint—or too little of the trim you want to protect. For corner areas and detail/pattern work, a slightly narrower width of 0.94 inches is preferred, because it fits more easily into tight spaces. When using a smaller brush for detail work, a narrower tape is also more versatile, as it covers less surface area, making it easier to create stripes and other geometric patterns. Extra-wide painter’s tape (from two to three inches) is useful for taping floors and ceilings. A wider tape will catch more accidental splatters, as well as protect floors and ceilings from contact with the brush or roller.
Painter’s tape comes in a variety of shades, but the colors are largely arbitrary and don’t signify qualities of the tape. The one exception is blue painter’s tape, popular for indoor and outdoor uses because it is UV resistant—important if your paint job will be exposed to sunlight. Ultra-violet rays can melt some adhesives to melt, making the tape more difficult to remove. Follow instructions for use and this won’t happen with blue painter’s tape.
Our Top Picks
1. BEST OVERALL: ScotchBlue Original Multi-Surface Painter’s Tape
UV-resistant, medium-adhesion ScotchBlue Original Multi-Surface Painter’s Tape is designed to peel off cleanly, leaving no surface damage. While it comes in a range of widths, from 0.7 to 2.82 inches, the 1.88 inch is suitable for a range of surfaces, both flat and curved, including wood, glass, and painted or textured walls and ceilings.
2. BEST FOR OUTDOOR USE: Scotch Painter’s Tape Scotch Exterior Surface Painter’s Tape
For exterior and stick-resistant surfaces like brick, stucco, and concrete, Scotch Painter’s Tape Scotch Exterior Surface Painter’s Tape is a worthy option. It has a waterproof backing and can withstand sun, wind, and rain. Its 1.41-inch width is highly versatile, but there’s a 1.88-inch version, too, if you need extra wiggle room. Be sure to remove within seven days for clean results, and never use it on delicate surfaces, as the adhesive can lift decorative finishes and wallpaper.
3. BEST FOR WOODWORK: IPG ProMask Blue Premium 14-Day Masking Tape
Using proprietary technology, IPG ProMask Blue Premium 14-Day Masking Tape has specially designed edges that prevent paint bleeding and seepage, especially when applied to wooden surfaces (lacquered and laminated surfaces as well). This nicely priced tape is UV resistant but should be removed within 14 days for best results. Its slightly narrower width (0.94 inches) makes it ideal for corner and detail painting.
4. BEST FOR DELICATE SURFACES: FROGTAPE Delicate Surface Painter’s Tape
To tape wallpaper, finished wood, and fresh paint (as long as it’s dry to the touch), consider relying on FROGTAPE Delicate Surface Painter’s Tape. This low-adhesive tape is embedded with absorbent polymers that react with latex paints, forming a gel barrier that stops paint from bleeding. The tape can stay in place for up to 60 days and is best for interior use. The 1.41-inch width is highly versatile, especially for trim, windows, and detail work. In addition to being easy to remove, FROGTAPE Delicate Surface Painter’s Tape helps create crisp, beautiful lines.