Fix-It Chick: Choose the right masking tape

Masking tape was invented in 1925 by 3M employee Richard Drew after he witnessed auto workers’ frustration as they removed butcher paper from newly painted automotive surfaces. The tape used to hold the paper in place had too strong of an adhesive. When the paper and tape were peeled off after the painting process, bits and pieces of paint were peeled off as well.

Drew came up with a paper tape with less adhesive to use when masking areas during the painting process. Over time, masking tape moved from the automotive industry into homes and businesses. Demand quickly grew, and companies began developing a wider variety of masking products.

Understanding the differences of masking tapes can help you choose the right tape for the right project.

• Regular masking tape is the original painter’s tape. Typically pale yellow in color, it has a stronger adhesive that typically leaves residue behind when it is removed. The tape is not moisture resistant and will break down quickly when exposed to UV rays. Use regular masking tape for masking unpainted wood work, metal and vinyl when clean removal is not necessary and where perfect edges are not imperative. Regular masking tape should be removed within three days.

• Blue painter’s tape is the best choice when painting most interior surfaces. It can be used on painted surfaces as well as wood, metal, plastic and other smooth surfaces. Blue painter’s tape can be left in place for up to two weeks and can be used to create relatively clean lines.

• Choose painter’s tape marked for “delicate surfaces” when too much adhesive may damage the finish or where adhesive residue could be a problem. Be aware that delicate surface tape has almost no adhesive and will only adhere to very clean, smooth surfaces.

• Choose green painter’s tape for rough surfaces where added adhesion is necessary. Green tapes have more adhesive and are more durable than other painter’s tapes. They will not leave residue if removed within three days.

• For clean lines, stripes and projects being tackled by less proficient painters, choose a painter’s tape with paint-blocking technology. These specially coated tapes have moisture-activated polymers along their edges that turn to gel and create a barrier when latex paint or caulk touches them.

— Have a question? Email Linda Cottin at