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How to use painter's tape

EricL
Bunnings Team Member
Bunnings Team Member

Difficulty: Beginner

Painter's tape can help ensure a professional finish for your D.I.Y. painting projects, with sharp lines along edges. Tape can protect specific areas you don't want to paint such as glass windows and architraves and ensure well-defined straight lines.

This simple guide shows you how to apply and remove painter's tape on corners. We will be painting a skirting board near a corner as an example without getting any paint on the wall.   

Steps

Step 1

Repair and clean the surface.

 

Repair any cracks or holes on the surface you intend to paint. Refer to the Bunnings guides How to repair cracks in plaster and How to fix a hole in the wall for handy tips.

 

If you’re painting a surface with existing paint, sand it lightly to create a smoother surface.

 

Wipe the area clean, ensuring it is free of any dirt, debris or moisture. Make sure it is dry before proceeding.

Step 1.1 Sand and repair..png  Step 1.2 Wipe the wall clean.png

Step 2

Apply the painter’s tape. 

 

Determine the area where you want to apply the tape. Unroll the tape, using your thumbs to keep it straight.

 

Align the tape with any corners or edges you want to protect. Use a plastic putty knife to secure your tape to the corner. Run the knife along the entire length of the tape to make sure that the edges are flat. Make sure no air bubbles are trapped in the tape.


Now press down the tape firmly with your thumb to ensure it adheres well to the surface.


Cut any excess tape in the corners using your utility knife.

 

Step 2.1 Lift start of tape..png  Step 2.2 Line tape up to corner..png  Step 2.3 Use putty knife to apply tape to corner..png  Step 2.4 Use putty knife to flatten tape.png  Step 2.5 Use thumbs to keep tape straight..png  Step 2.6 Use thumb to secure tape..png  Step 2.7 Use utility knife to cut excess tape..png  Step 2.8 Remove excess tape..png

 

 

Step 3

Overlap the tape on corners.


If you are painting near any corners, apply another strip of tape on the other edge. Make sure the two strips of tape overlap slightly at the corner. This will prevent any paint from bleeding through the corner and help you achieve a sharp, clean line.

 

Use your thumb to unroll another strip of tape and keep it straight. Align it with the other edge of your surface, starting at the corner.

Use your putty knife to secure the second strip of tape to the first at the corner. Now run the knife along the entire length of the second strip of tape to ensure that the edges are flat. 

Step 3.1 Finger on tape second application..png  Step 3.2 Push second strip corner tape down with scraper.png

 

 

Step 4

Paint.

Double check to make sure that there are no wrinkles or air bubbles trapped in the tape.


Prepare your paint by following the product and safety instructions on the label. Don't forget to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) while painting, including a face mask and gloves. 

 

Paint the surface with a steady hand. Use smooth, even strokes. Paint away from the edge of the tape to prevent pushing paint underneath. Make sure the entire surface surrounding the tape is painted well. Refer to our guide How to paint like a professional for more painting tips. 

 

Step 4.1 Double check tape layout.png  Step 4.2 Paint skirting board.png  Step 4.3 Slowly paint edge.png

 

Step 5

Remove the tape. 

Remove the tape while the paint is still a little wet. This will prevent the paint from bleeding over and drying onto the tape, helping you achieve cleaner lines. Removing the tape once the paint has fully dried can also cause the paint to pull off with it.

Use the edge of your putty knife to lift the edge of the second strip of tape, starting at the corner. Pull the edge of the tape back at a 45-degree angle to avoid tearing or peeling off the paint. Gently remove the entire strip of tape.

 

Use the knife again to remove the edge of the first strip of tape at the corner. Peel away the rest of the tape carefully and dispose it.

 

Step 5.1 use putty knife corner to lift tape.png  Step 5.2 Lift second strip tape with putty knife.png  Step 5.3 Slowly lift tape to remove.png  Step 5.4 Use scraper to remove tape 1.png  Step 5.5 Remove first strip.png

 

Step 6

Fix the paint if needed. 

Inspect the painted surface for any imperfections or areas that need touch-ups. Use a small paint brush to fix any uneven lines or gaps.

You have now successfully used painter's tape to ensure a professional-looking paint job. 

 

Step 6.1 Finished painted surface.png

 

Materials

Tools

  • Sanding float or block
  • Plastic putty knife
  • Utility knife
  • Clean cloth
  • Paint brush or roller
  • Paint tray
  • Drop sheet (optional)
  • Safety gear, including face mask and gloves.

Images

Step 1.1 Sand and repair..png  Step 1.2 Wipe the wall clean.png  Step 2.1 Lift start of tape..png  Step 2.2 Line tape up to corner..png  Step 2.3 Use putty knife to apply tape to corner..png  Step 2.4 Use putty knife to flatten tape.png  Step 2.5 Use thumbs to keep tape straight..png  Step 2.6 Use thumb to secure tape..png  Step 2.7 Use utility knife to cut excess tape..png  Step 2.8 Remove excess tape..png  Step 2.9 Push first tape corner in.png  Step 3.1 Finger on tape second application..png    Step 3.2 Push second strip corner tape down with scraper.png  Step 4.1 Double check tape layout.png  Step 4.2 Paint skirting board.png  Step 4.3 Slowly paint edge.png  Step 5.1 use putty knife corner to lift tape.png  Step 5.2 Lift second strip tape with putty knife.png  Step 5.3 Slowly lift tape to remove.png  Step 5.4 Use scraper to remove tape 1.png  Step 5.5 Remove first strip.png  Step 6.1 Finished painted surface.png

 

3 Replies
Puddin
Building a Reputation

@EricL 

Thanks Eric

I had not thought of using a putty knife and do tend to need to do more tidy up than I should. Think this tip will help me heaps. 

Cheers Ann 

EricL
Bunnings Team Member
Bunnings Team Member

Hi @Puddin (Ann)

 

I'm glad you found the guide useful. It sounds like you've got a painting project on the go. Please make sure to post an update, I'm sure our members are keen to see what you're working on.

 

Eric

 

Nailbag
Having an Impact

Great topic @EricL Worth noting to newbie painters that the various colours within each brand of painters tape refers to the maximum time in days the tape should be left on the surface so that when removed it leaves a clean edge. Using the spatular in the corners is a great tip. Mine would also be to use it to run it along all edges to ensure the tape is firmly stuck to the painting line so the paint doesn't bleed under it. And it's money well spent to buy the good stuff. 

If using painters tape outdoors (even the good brands), remove it as soon as you have done the paint job, or it will leave a sticky residue or worse take painted surfaces off!

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