The Difference Between Masking Tape and Painter’s Tape (and When to Use Each)

The Difference Between Masking Tape and Painter’s Tape (and When to Use Each)
Photo: Viacheslav Zhedankov, Shutterstock

If you’re getting ready to start a painting project, there’s probably a trip to the hardware store in your future. In addition to the brushes, rollers, and paint itself, you’ll likely need some tape to help keep the paint from getting on any moulding, door frames, or other woodwork in the room. But what kind of tape?

The two main options are masking tape and painter’s tape, and they each serve their own purpose. In an article for BobVila.com, Bob Beacham breaks down the difference between masking tape and painter’s tape — including when you should use each kind.

The difference between masking tape and painter’s tape

Let’s start with the basics: While both masking tape and painter’s tape are made from crepe paper, masking tape is usually beige/cream-coloured, and painter’s tape is blue (or yellow or green). But technically, either tape can be any colour, and they’re typically right next to each other on the shelf at the store.

The biggest difference between the two types of tape, Beacham writes, is the adhesive. Masking tape’s adhesive is stronger, which means it doesn’t peel off as easily when used for projects like painting — hence the need for dedicated painter’s tape.

When to use masking tape

Masking tape may not be ideal for painting, but it comes in handy in many other situations, Beacham explains:

It can be useful for all kinds of household and workshop tasks like repairing a torn vacuum bag, making quick labels, or marking a line on laminate boards so they don’t split when being sawed. Sticking a piece of masking tape on tile not only allows you to easily mark where to drill but can also help prevent the tile from cracking.

Because of its strong adhesive properties and low cost, it’s a good idea to keep a roll of masking tape at home for a variety of projects.

When to use painter’s tape

Designed to be less sticky and more easily removed, painter’s tape is, unsurprisingly, your best bet for painting. Unlike masking tape, it peels off cleanly once a painting project is over. Plus, when removed, masking tape may also take some of the new paint job (or wall itself) with it. Not to mention that despite being less adhesive, painter’s tape forms a tighter seal than masking tape, meaning the paint is less likely to bleed through.

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