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How to Get Perfectly Straight Paint Lines Using Painters Tape

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In this article: Find tips and tricks for using painters tape for perfectly crisp lines.

Have your ever found yourself in a wall painting situation you thought would be SO VERY easy…and then everything goes wrong?

Painting a wall or surface and using painters tape to get a straight line seems like it would be a piece of cake.

But, I’m here to tell you – all can go wrong in a heartbeat if you don’t do things properly. (Ask me how I know…)

The Ultimate Guide to Using Painters Tape Like a Pro

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links for your shopping convenience.

What is it?

Painters tape is used when you want to get a straight line of paint that is crisp and sharp – usually when one differing color is beside another. Think of things like striped walls, stair treads, color block painting, painting baseboards,  & windows with panes.

The main two things you need to look for in painters tape is its ability to stop seepage of paint and yet be able to pull away easy enough to not damage the surface.

What can go wrong if you don’t use this painting tool correctly?

What seems simple in theory all comes unraveled if you pull off the tape and find that paint has seeped under the painters tape. Instead of having the perfectly pristine lines you had imagined, you’re left with  jagged line of splotches that look anything but professional.

Or another problem happens if the tape is so sticky, it pulls up the paint finish it is stuck to!

Front door with painters tape around the window panes.
Painters tape comes in handy when painting things like window panes.

Begin by choosing the best painters tape for the job you’re working on.

If you swing by the painters tape aisle in your local hardware store or search for it in Amazon, you’ll quickly discover there are a whole ton of options! 

  • Blue Painters Tape: Recommended for taping off windows when painting exterior in the sunlight. It is less tacky and releases well when it’s time to remove.

I’ve also read that blue painters tape works well when taping off baseboards or interior woodwork, since it is less tacky and releases well.

The tack strength of green painters tape holds well and yet seems to release easily when time to remove. However, you must exercise caution in removing all painters tape or it could potentially pull up paint underneath.

  • Frog Painters Tape: I recently used Frog brand green painters tape and fell in love with it!

Pricier than other green painters tape, I found it had superior resistance to bleed through and I ended up with beautiful crisp lines. I used it when I painted stripes on a fabric pillow cover and painted our bedroom black wall. I was super impressed with it!

Also note that painters tape comes in various measurements of width. Some is designed very thin (like this) so that you can do decorative treatments that can look like things like floor tile with grout!

Painters tape on a fabric pillow cover and paint being applied so that stripes will form.
Painters tape can help get painted stripes perfectly straight.

How to use painters tape to get crisp paint lines

I’ve recently watched on Instagram stories some super fun and tricky hacks to help get paint lines perfect with painters tape. Here they are:

  1. Use the edge of a credit card to make sure the edge of the painters tape is stuck down well to the surface – paying special attention to the edge where you want the crisp line to be.
  2. This tip is especially helpful when painting stripes or designs on walls: Once the painters tape is placed on the wall, paint a thin coat of the main wall color on the edge of the tape where you want the crisp line to be. Let it dry fully. Then paint the contrasting color on the wall. If any paint seeps under the tape, it will be the first (main) color so you won’t see it when you pull off the tape!
  3. Similar to trick #2: Run a super thin bead of paintable caulk on the edge of the painters tape where you want the crisp line to be. Smooth it out with your finger and let it dry. (Make sure it is just a super thin layer!) Any seepage of the paint will be stopped by the caulk.
  4. When painting window panes, run an xacto knife around the edge of the painters tape before removing it. That way the paint won’t rip off with the tape.

When should I remove painters tape?

Painters tape should be removed when the paint is still tacky. If you wait until it is fully dry, the paint may come off with the tape!!

For more tips on house painting:

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How to Get Perfectly Straight Paint Lines Using Painters Tape

How to Get Perfectly Straight Paint Lines Using Painters Tape

Active Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes

Find tips and tricks to using painters tape for perfectly crisp lines when painting walls, baseboards, window panes, and more.

Materials

  • Choose the correct painters tape for the specific project you are working on. Here are some of the general differences between them:
  • Blue Painters Tape: Recommended for taping off windows when painting exterior in the sunlight. It is less tacky and releases well when it’s time to remove.
  • Green Painters Tape: (This is what I have had the most experience using.) Green painters tape has more tackiness than blue painters tape and works well when painting stripes on walls , on artwork, and window frames.
  • Frog Painters Tape: I recently used Frog brand green painters tape and fell in love with it!
  • Pricier than other green painters tape, I found it had superior resistance to bleed through and I ended up with beautiful crisp lines. I used it when I painted stripes on a fabric pillow cover and painted our bedroom black wall. I was super impressed with it!

Instructions

  1. Clean the surface you are painting first. Paint and painters tape doesn't stick well to dirt and residue.
  2. Apply the painters tape of your choice.
  3. Use these tricks to help your experience with painters tape work well:

-Use the edge of a credit card to make sure the edge of the painters tape is stuck down well to the surface – paying special attention to the edge where you want the crisp line to be.

-This tip is especially helpful when painting stripes or designs on walls: Once the painters tape is placed on the wall, paint a thin coat of the main wall color on the edge of the tape where you want the crisp line to be. Let it dry fully. Then paint the contrasting color on the wall. If any paint seeps under the tape, it will be the first (main) color so you won’t see it when you pull off the tape!

-Similar to the above trick: Run a super thin bead of paintable caulk on the edge of the painters tape where you want the crisp line to be. Smooth it out with your finger and let it dry. (Make sure it is just a super thin layer!) Any seepage of the paint will be stopped by the caulk.

-When painting window panes, run an xacto knife around the edge of the painters tape before removing it. That way the paint won’t rip off with the tape!

Did you make this project?

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Thanks for sharing!

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