If you love the idea of DIYing a paint job, one of the big challenges you may run into is that the prep work takes much longer than the actual painting.
Part of the prep work is taping off edges that you want to keep free of fresh paint. Yellow masking tape is not user-friendly; it tends to shred when you’re ready to remove it.
Blue masking tape is a medium-tack product that works quite well for many applications.
Green masking tape is the highest tack product on the market and is ideal for some projects.
- Green tape provides a strong seal and high tack.
- Blue tape is great for exterior painting and masking around windows and baseboards.
- Blue tape is better for interior baseboards as it has a cleaner release and better protection from bleeding.
- Green tape is better when using oil-based paints, solvents, or lacquers.
- Blue tape is best for painting window frames and using latex paint.
- Green tape is best when the project requires sharp lines.
- Gren tape costs more than blue tape.
Basic Trim Paint and Water Based Products
If you need to mask off around windows and baseboards to paint your walls, blue tape will likely work just fine.
Do make sure to fully clean the surface you plan to tape. If you washed your walls with mild dish soap before rinsing them, your baseboards are likely clean.
If you didn’t wash your walls and your baseboards are painted,
- mix up a bucket of warm, soapy water with a degreasing soap
- carefully wash down your baseboards and window trim where the wall meets the trim
- rinse the baseboards with plain water
- let them dry
If your baseboards are unpainted, use a wood cleaning product or add just a drop of vegetable oil to your wash water to moisturize the wood.
Once the baseboards are completely dry, you can apply your blue tape. I find it best to work from the floor and use a putty knife to smooth the tape onto the trim surface.
The edge of the putty knife will help the tape to stick in the corners effectively. Knee pads or a padded kneeler can be a big help.
Green tape is high tack. It is ideal for custom effects such as striping. Do be aware that your base paint job will have an impact on the overall quality of the whole project when using green tape.
For example, if you want to do a custom striping job of two different sheens, wall preparation is key. If possible, use a tinted primer for your base color.
Paint formulation is fairly simple; paints with a lot of resins, such as primers, are stickier than paints with additives that make them shiny, such as a gloss or a semi-gloss.
If you want to create a silk stripe look on your walls, start with a flat color and coat the whole wall. Follow the instructions on the can with an eye toward
- temperature range
- humidity impact
- curing time
You don’t want your base color to simply dry on the walls, you need it to cure to the surface. If your base color doesn’t cure, you may end up pulling it off when you try to reveal your stripes.
Next, apply your green tape to define where your shiny stripes will go. Because walls are almost never square and corners are seldom 90 degrees, find the center of your wall and work out, using a measuring tape and a level.
If you start in the corner and assume it’s square, you may end up with diagonal stripes.
Smooth down your green tape with a putty knife. If you have a roller, such as a small pastry roller, use that to seal the edges of the tape against the flat color.
Apply your glossy paint with a microfiber roller for a very smooth finish.
Remove your green tape. Pull steadily and smoothly from the bottom up and roll it into a bundle as you go so it doesn’t fall down onto your freshly striped wall, your floor, or your baseboards.
Pulling the tape before the shiny paint has completely dried can allow you to clean up any bleeds.
Use a damp cloth wrapped over the edge of your putty knife to clean up any signs of shiny paint that crept under the tape.
A Word About Solvents
If you are working with any solvents, such as mineral spirits or paint thinner, use green tape. These products will, over time, weaken some of the tack of the tape.
You need lots of tack so at least some remains at the end of your project.
Working On Glass
If you’re painting window frames and using latex paint, try to use blue tape. Green tape can leave a residue on clean window glass that is a challenge to remove.
If you’re working with any oil-based paints that will require solvent application, use green tape and be prepared to remove the residue with a product like Goo Gone.
Of course, you will then need to wash the window to remove any streaks.
Your risk of a bleed along the edge of a paint job will be slightly higher with blue tape.
However, unless you are going for a very sharp stripe line or are working with harsh solvents, blue tape will be effective on most projects.
Cost is also a consideration; green tape may be more effective but it will also be more costly.
One simple way to keep costs down is to avoid buying tape that is wider than you need.
Using 2-inch masking tape on baseboards is overkill and may be much harder to remove.
Stick with the narrower tape unless you absolutely have to have a wider product.