How to Remove Painter's Tape

Removing painter's tape from your latest paint job is a fairly straightforward, stress-free process -- as long as you remove the tape at just the right time.

Basic Tape Removal

The key to simple tape removal is peel it away once the paint is dry to the touch. Peeling it up immediately after painting is another option, but that is best done on horizontal surfaces or if you believe the paint is not thick enough to drip over the previously taped lines.

Step 1

Touch the painted surface with your bare hand to determine if the paint feels dry, especially along the edges of the painter's tape. Once the paint feels dry, pick one end of the tape loose with your fingernail.

Step 2

Peel the tape diagonally or at a 90-degree angle, peeling the tape back toward the remainder of the tape strip.

Step 3

Peel slowly, closely watching both edges of the tape as you pull it away. If some of the paint comes up with the tape, stop pulling it. Touch the loose paint; if it feels wet or gummy, wait at least an hour before proceeding.

Step 4

Score along the edge of the tape with a utility knife or craft knife to break the paint's bond with the tape in the area where the paint was previously wet or along the entire tape strip if the paint still comes up with the tape even when dry. Cut with a light touch to avoid slicing or scratching the project surface.

Step 5

Peel the remainder of the tape completely away from the project surface.

Dealing With Stubborn Residue

Step 1

Touch the previously taped area carefully, feeling for sticky spots where adhesive or bits of tape remain. This may also happen if the tape was left on for weeks or longer, or if the tape is of poor quality.

Step 2

Warm the gummy areas or bits of tape on a low-heat setting with a hair dryer, holding the hair dryer 4 or 5 inches away from the project surface.

Step 3

Rub your fingers or a lint-free cloth over the heated areas to roll the adhesive or old tape onto itself. Continue heating and rubbing the affected areas until all the gummy material has been removed.

Step 4

Wipe the cleaned area with a slightly damp lint-free cloth wrapped around your finger to wipe up any last bits of stickiness.

Things You Will Need

  • Utility knife or craft knife
  • Hairdryer
  • Lint-free cloth

About the Author

Kathy Adams is an award-winning journalist and freelance writer who traveled the world handling numerous duties for music artists. She writes travel and budgeting tips and destination guides for USA Today, Travelocity and ForRent, among others. She enjoys exploring foreign locales and hiking off the beaten path stateside, snapping pics of wildlife and nature instead of selfies.