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Is it Safe to Use Painter's Tape on Hardwood Floors?

Chris Deziel

Many projects require that you lay tape on a hardwood floor, and blue painter's tape will work for most of them. It's a low-adhesive product suitable for painted walls and woodwork, and a floor finish is more durable than either of these; therefore, blue tape should be completely safe.

Read the label on the tape before laying it on your floor.

If the floor has an old, chipping finish that you suspect could be damaged, use a product designed for delicate finishes.

Diiferent Tapes for Different Purposes

The days when you could find only a generic, multi-purpose masking tape are long over; contemporary hardware stores carry a variety of products, each intended for specific jobs and identified by different colors. The all-purpose variety is tan, but it isn't the best tape to use for painting. Painter's tape is typically blue, green, orange or yellow. Each tape differs from the others in the quality of the paper from which it is manufactured as well as the strength of its adhesive. If there is a generic painter's tape, it's the blue one.

Check the Label

Before laying any type of tape on your floor, always check the label to learn the manufacturer's recommendations for that product. If the tape isn't in its packaging, check the manufacturer's website for a chart of suggested usages. One manufacturer recommends its blue tape for unfinished hardwood floors, but its orange for finished engineered and solid hardwood floors. The orange tape has a low-strength adhesive that is less likely to leave residue when you remove it. That same manufacturer recommends its blue, green or orange tapes for laminate and vinyl floors.

Proper Use of Tape

You may be using the tape to protect the floor from paint while you're painting the baseboards; to prevent seepage, firmly press the edge of the tape close to the floor. In that case, you should use the most delicate tape you can find -- usually orange or yellow. On the other hand, if you're laying demarcation lines for furniture placement, and you need a product with more holding power; use blue or green tape. Never exceed the manufacturer's recommendation for the maximum length of time to leave the tape; the adhesive can harden and make the tape difficult to remove.

Make Sure It's Masking Tape

Like masking tape, duct tape comes in a variety of colors, but the two types of tape are different. No matter what its color, duct tape has a stronger adhesive than masking tape, and it has more potential to permanently stick to the floor, especially if you leave it for a week or two. Both vinyl tape, which is white, and PVC tape, which is black, have strong adhesives and can be difficult to remove from your floor. Neither of these types of tape are designed for the same purpose as masking tape, nor are there suitable substitutes.