Painter’s tape vs masking tape: which is best for painting?

Are you working on a painting project? Finally had the time to paint an old room?

This guide will help you come up with the right tools to be able to get that painting project done in no time.

But before that, take note that in painting, you are not just after the paint. You are not only after the rollers, the sprayers, or the techniques.

To be able to achieve a seamless and perfect painting work, you also need to consider the smallest tools – like the tape to be used.

Whether you are a professional painter or someone who is into DIY projects, this guide will be helpful to you.

Why do you need to use tape?

Preparation. In any project, preparation is the key. It takes you one step ahead of your game. This is also applicable even to a painting job. This is where the role of the tape comes in.

You may use a tape to cover surfaces which you do not intend paint on. For example, in painting the ceiling of the walls, you do not want to spill paint on the floor or furniture.

You can achieve this by covering these areas before painting.

Simply pull out your papers, plastics, or newspapers, and cover the areas. 

adults playing with masking tape

However, doing this may not be enough. So, secure these areas by using a tape.

Otherwise, the paint may just sip through the edges or spill over when the paper is blown by the air.

You can also use a tape to achieve clean, crisp lines. Simply apply the tape and paint over it, using it as a guide to cover a straight line.

Upon removal of the tape, it will give you a more seamless line as compared to just painting in a straight manner.

However, with the many types of tapes available in the market, which one should you give a try?

When doing a professional paint job or any project that requires precision, using the right tape makes all the difference. The right tape also saves you from future touch-ups or damage.

Which tape is the best for painting?

One of the most common question to decide to in choosing the proper painting tools is whether to go for a painter’s tape or masking tape.

These two are commonly compared because they are almost in a similar look and feel.

Common features between painter’s tape and masking tape

  • Both are made with a crepe paper backing, making it easy to tear by hand or to write on for label purposes.  
  • Some painter’s tapes are made with a slightly more robust backing than general purpose masking tapes to prevent splintering. This also makes it easier to remove the tape in a single strip after painting.
  • Both tapes can be used to achieve a straight, crisp line.
  • If you are just after achieving a straight line in painting, you can make use of either a painter's tape or masking tape. To do this, simply roll out the tape and apply on the surface. Paint over it and remove after the paint has been completely cured.

    Be careful with the removal process and make sure the paint is already or completely dry so you will not damage the painted surface.

Differences between the painter's tape and masking tape

Level of adhesion

When comparing which one is more sticky, note that masking tape is designed with a high level of adhesion. When removing this from the surface, it can often leave a sticky residue, especially if it has been left on for too long.

paint removing bottle

Hence, if you are using a masking adhesive, make sure to remove it as soon as possible.

On the other hand, the adhesion provided by the painter’s tape has proven to be more effective in terms of covering and protecting surfaces when painting.

Why is this so?

The painter’s tape gives a medium level of adhesion. Because of this, it removes cleanly after the job is done up to a certain amount of time.

The adhesive from a painter’s tape stays sticky to the surface. As a result, it leaves a clean paint line between surfaces. 


Most tapes come with some kind of label that indicates how long it could stay on the surface and still remove cleanly. 

The amount of clean removal time can range from several days to weeks, depending on the quality and construction of the tape.

It is essential to consider this especially if you know how long your project will take. 

If your project could last for weeks or more, it is best to use a tape that is designed to remove cleanly for the duration of your job.

Because of the medium adhesion level offered by painter’s tape, it also removes cleanly as compared to the masking tape.

The adhesive used in masking tapes is formulated in such a way that maintains an adequate hold.

However, one downside of this, as mentioned earlier is that it may not necessarily remove cleanly when left adhered for a prolonged period.


If you are working on a tight or conservative budget, it might be worth making a cost comparison between these two tapes.

Masking tapes are generally cheaper compared to painter’s tape.

Other Advantages of Painter’s Tape

brush and colorful painting tape

1. Painter’s tapes are designed to prevent paint bleeding into masked off areas.

Some general-purpose masking tapes can pucker or wrinkle when they come in contact with latex paints. Because of this not smooth surface, the paint tends to seep under the tape.

On the other hand, some painter’s tapes are further improved. Their edges are treated with a polymer that acts as a barrier to keep paint out.

As a result, these tapes deliver extra-sharp paint lines. If you are painting stripes, shapes, or decorative patterns on walls or other surfaces, this is a huge advantage.

It will save you time.

As mentioned earlier, preparation is the key to any project. In using a painter’s tape, not only that it will save you from mistakes but will also save you time and money.

Why is this so? Painter’s tape saves you from repairing or conducting touch ups because it has already prevented painting errors.

It is versatile

Unlike other kinds of tapes, painter’s tapes can be applied to any surface. For example, if you are painting a window sill, you can use a strip of the tape to the window glass.

Moreover, painters tape can also be used to create all sorts of attractive designs and patterns on walls. For example, it can be used to create a checkerboard effect or a zigzag pattern.

To summarize, the differences between the painter's tape and masking tape are as follows:


Painter's Tape

Masking Tape


High Level

Medium Level


Clean and easy

More difficult as it may leave residue


More expensive


Prevents paint from bleeding?



Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

  • When should you remove tape?

Generally, it is best to remove the tape as soon as you have finished taping. You can also leave it for a longer time, but this may not ensure the best quality.

Leaving the tape for a longer time increases the possibility of leaving a residue once it is peeled off.

  • How do you remove the tape without peeling the paint on the surface?

Note that the best way to do this is to remove it before the paint has fully cured. If the paint has hardened, you can make use a razor blade to slice through the overlap.

This way, you are also ensuring that the paint will not peel back.

  • Are painters tapes waterproof?

Generally, they are not waterproof. However, there is improved waterproof exterior painters tape available in the market.

  • In case there is residue, how can it be removed?

If for some reason the tape is still intact on the surface, you can use a hair dryer to loosen the adhesive. After it has been relaxed, remove all the backing from the adhesive.

Also, you can remove as much adhesive as possible by rubbing the glue off with your finger.

Another hack is to apply a fresh piece of tape over the adhesive to pull it up from the surface.

If after trying the above tips and still the residue remains, use a chemical-based cleaner. However, be careful and use it according to its instructions.

Wrap Up

Given the comparison above, we suggest that in terms of painting, it is always better to make use of painter’s tape as opposed to masking tape.

Painter’s tapes are specifically designed to be used for painting preparations. Their adhesion is medium and just enough to be able to administer clean removal after use.

It is also inexpensive and versatile. More importantly, it prevents the paint from bleeding which may not be achieved by merely using a masking or a general-purpose tape.

One note to remember is that all painter’s tapes are masking tapes, but not all masking tapes are painter’s tapes.

Related Posts

DIY Paint Remover

About the Author