A Masking Tape That Makes Painting a Pleasure

With a name like “masking tape”, you’d think this product would be made for masking surfaces to keep unwanted paint off. That’s a reasonable understanding, but wrong just the same. At least it’s wrong when it comes to ordinary masking tapes, that is. Regardless of the name, run-of-the-mill masking tape does an amazingly poor job of actually masking paint, and this fact can cause trouble on two counts:

  1. Paint seepage
  2. Messy removal

The first issue is that ordinary masking tape doesn’t keep paint off adjoining surfaces very well. The crinkled texture of masking tape lets paint creep underneath edges and onto adjacent surfaces, and that’s not what you want. Ugly as paint creep is, it’s not the only problem. Over-diligent adhesives are worse.

masking tape scotchblue 3m edge-lockWhile it’s obvious that masking tape is not particularly sticky as it comes off the roll, everything changes after that tape has been in place for more than a few days. Try peeling it off and this stuff tears into pieces, leaving gunk and bits of tape behind. The adhesive simply won’t let go, and you’re going to get to know the smell of Goo Gone citrus solvent quite well as you scrub it off. Masking tape left too long can also damage drywall by peeling off the surface layer of paper, along with the tape.

I’m always surprised at how many years traditional masking tape has been the only game in town. I’m also thankful that tape manufacturers have noticed the deficiency and taken action. A good example is called Edge-Lock Paint Line Protector. In tests I’ve conducted in my shop, it keeps paint out crisply as long as you remember to press the edges down firmly during application. I found the back of my fingernail worked well.

Peel-ability is another advantage. You can leave Edge-Lock in place for 14 to 60 days without the adhesive sinking down roots. That’s especially important if you’ll be painting only on weekends or whenever you can find time. That masking tape might have to stay in place longer than you think.

To test out the product more thoroughly, I gave a box of Edge-Lock to a friend named Donna. She’s the pickiest professional painter I know, and she’s not afraid to use choice words for painting supplies that don’t perform. “I really like this stuff,” she told me, after using Edge-Lock on several clients’ homes. “It even worked well on bricks that I had to paint next to. It left a nice smooth line and removal was easy.”

So how is painter’s tape made differently than regular masking tape? The edge of the tape is where the good stuff happens. It needs to create a liquid-tight bond with neighbouring surfaces to keep paint out, and in the case of Edge-Lock, the edge of the tape reacts with paint chemically, creating a microscopic barrier that stops liquid without creep. It also creates a ridge-free edge after the tape is peeled away.

Masking tape that’s meant for masking paint costs about twice as much as bargain-basement “masking tapes”, but there’s really no comparison. What price can you put on avoiding jagged paint lines, damaged walls and a whole lot of time spent with a rag and bottle of Goo Gone?

Posted on April 2nd, 2012

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