To Tape or Not to Tape – a Painter’s Question

Whether to use painter’s tape or complete the edges freehand through “cutting-in” is a question we are often asked as professional painters. While there are no hard and fast rules about using tape products, there are some pros and cons to this process of interior painting.

We often blog about the importance of preparing a room for painting by cleaning the walls and ceiling, removing furniture, and repairing cracks or nail holes. For homeowners who like to tackle painting projects on their own, applying tape to edges is often part of that prep. But is it really a necessary step? Today, we are going to look at the process of taping so you can decide for yourself if you want to do this for your next weekend project.

The Case for Painters Tape

Painter’s tape has become the product of choice for most do-it-yourselfers because of its predictability and low-stick qualities. It provides a straight line for precision and allows for a protective border in case spillover occurs. People who use painters tape boast that it ensures that you do a neat and tidy job, with clean lines and no messy edges.

Some homeowners who use painter’s tape believe that it can save time since you won’t need to be so careful around the edges. They also believe that painter’s tape makes for clean lines that have a very professional look. It can be used to protect your baseboards, built-in cabinets, and ceilings from the inevitable drips or uneven painting that can happen when painting by hand.

Painter’s tape comes in many different sizes, widths, and types for all sorts of walls, ceilings, and edges. In fact, go to any home improvement store and you will see a Valhalla of painter’s tape taking up almost an entire aisle.

The Case for “Cutting In”

Cutting in is the process of painting edges or straight lines with a quality angled brush without tape. It is all done freehand. This is the method that most professional painters use. The case can be made that using painter’s tape is extremely time consuming and can be a colossal waste of time. Painting freehand removes an additional step from the painting process both at the beginning of the project when the tape would be applied and again at the end of the project when the product would be carefully peeled off.

Professional painters are also quick to note that using painter’s tape is not guaranteed to make a project look professional. Even the highest quality tapes have been known to bleed through, allowing paint to get into areas where you really don’t want it and where touch-ups will be needed after the job is complete. Painter’s tape can also peel and rip during the removal process making an utter mess to your carefully painted wall.

Lastly, professional painters know that painter’s tape does not always work in certain painting situations. For example, it is really difficult to use this product on bumpy or uneven surfaces. This many times defeats the purpose of the straight line of the product. In addition, while the tape is straight, the person applying it must do so in a calculated fashion in order to line things up correctly. You really don’t want an angled line where there should be a straight one!

Generally, the argument about this type of product comes down to personal preference. Now you have a better idea of what the pros and cons are to using this product vs. cutting in freehand. If you need help with your paint projects, please call Jerry Enos Painting.