Painter’s Tapes vs. Masking Tape – The Adhesive Strength Makes All the Difference

Posted on 5/13/2021 8:00:44 AM By ASC

The difference between masking and painter’s tapes lies largely in the difference in adhesive strength and that’s what makes them suitable for different applications. The lower adhesion of masking tape is considered more suitable for art painting, while the stronger Painter’s Tape adhesive is more suited to professional painting jobs where greater importance is attached to maintaining straight lines and clean edges, and lessening the likelihood of paint seeping through under the tape when painting anywhere that two different  textures or colors meet.

However, not all painter’s tapes are created equal, or with the same strength of adhesive backing it. Instead there are three different versions, based on low, medium, and high strengths of adhesion, for use in different applications.

Low adhesive tapes are suited for use on fragile surfaces such as wallpaper and textured paint. Their greatest advantage is that this lower level adhesive lasts longest. Depending on brand, humidity, and  the amount of exposure to the sun or heat, a low-adhesive is capable of lasting anything up to 60 days before it is likely to split or scratch the fragile substrate when attempts are made to peel the tape off at the end of the project.

As the levels of adhesive strength rise, the amount of time available for clean tape removal becomes less.  When using high adhesive outdoor or water-resistant tape for outdoor projects like retaining huge drop cloths or covering surfaces that are adhesive resistant such as tiles, concrete, lacquer and stucco paints, how long the project will take to complete and cure has to be borne in mind. High adhesive tapes will only remain fresh for about 7 days before removal could damage the substrate. If the project is likely to take longer, the original tape will need to be peeled off and replaced before the week is over.

A multifunctional medium adhesive tape, usually chosen for interior work like painting drywall and plaster as well as wood, metal, glass and stone, can be quickly and easily peeled away after 14 days if it hasn’t been exposed to too much sunlight.

Other factors also need to be taken into account when using painter’s tape. These include choosing the right width of tape for the area which needs to be covered. For glass, molding and trim, the best width is usually between 1.41 and 1.88 inches. If used in corner areas, for depth work, or in conjunction with a smaller brush for detail work, a narrower tape may be easier to apply and take away less surface area.

It’s also worth considering using blue painter’s tape for its UV resistance if the project is conducted in an area which is subjected to sunlight.