Masking tape isn’t what it used to be, and that’s a very good thing. For nearly ten years now, high performance painter’s tapes have been making it easier to create crisp colour transitions on interior surfaces because they work so much better. Nobody who cares about their painting uses regular masking tape any more. The best painter’s tapes keep stray paint out so much more effectively, using them is a no-brainer. Masking outdoors, however, presents unique challenges and there hasn’t been any high profile options for dealing with outdoor conditions so far. All this has changed with a completely new kind of painters tape made for exterior situations. It’s unique in the world, and in addition to my own tests, I got a professional painter I know the tell me what she thinks of this new breed of tape.
Donna Pearson is a professional painter, a neighbour, a friend and one of the most verbally honest people I know. That’s one reason I wanted her take on 3M ScotchBlue Exterior painters tape. I started using it myself after I heard it was different than anything else on the market. I’ve been using ScotchBlue Exterior for masking some auto body painting I’ve been doing in my driveway over the last few weeks, and I like it a lot. I wouldn’t be telling you about it otherwise.
Instead of being based on paper, like traditional masking tapes, this stuff is made from thin, flexible plastic. This means it’s better able to conform to uneven surfaces without tearing, and it resists moisture and sunlight perfectly. You can even dunk the roll in water with no effect. Shallow score marks every 1/16” across the width of the tape means it breaks at 90º every time without wrinkling or folding. It’s way easier to break cleanly with your fingers.
The 3M Scotch Blue Exterior costs about the same as premium interior painter’s tapes, but it works better than other tapes I’ve tested. That’s one reason I expect people will start using it both indoors and outside. There’s no reason not to use it inside.
So, how did my straight-shooting painter friend Donna feel about this stuff? “I really like it”, says Donna. “I used it to mask some vinyl windows and it stuck and sealed well in most cases. Two of the windows had been coated before with some kind of silicone, so the tape didn’t stick to those, but you can’t blame the tape for that. Nothing sticks to silicone. I also used the tape to mask some brick near where I was painting. The plastic backing is flexible enough that it followed the rough shape better than other tapes.”
Very few things in life get better by leaps and bounds. Most improvement happens little by little. ScotchBlue Exterior painters tape isn’t going to change the world, but it is worth looking for if you want to do the best job you can with painting your outdoor world.