How To Tips: Painters Tape and the Dreaded Bleed Under

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I know…I know.  I’ve addressed this before.  Debra’s addressed this before.  It’s a common topic.  But I got a new email about this very issue this week and decided I needed to write about it one more time.  :)

So…A newsletter subscriber wrote in – actually left a comment on another post about this subject – about how she and her husband had just painted stripes in a bedroom and wished they’d read about how to get the tape set right so it doesn’t bleed under it.  Here’s what she wrote in:

“Several reviews I’ve read say that the frog tape takes the original paint off the wall when you peel it off. I’d almost prefer touching that up than having to repair painted stripes afterwards. My husband and I didn’t use any leak prevention measures with our painter’s tape, and now have thirteen eight foot vertical stripes to touch up on both sides. We should have done more research!”

Oh my goodness!  Okay…I’ve dealt with bleed through before.  It’s not difficult to fix but it is time consuming and annoying.  :)  When I read this email I just HAD to write back.  Here’s what I said:

YIKES!  Okay…here’s a thought on how to fix it if you want to try it.

If you don’t want to use Frog tape just take regular ol’ blue painter tape. Get the one with the ORANGE core though.  It’s the “easy release” version.

Put the tape about an inch outside the edge of the stripe edge.  Paint the
base wall color along the edge where you are going to paint the stripe.
The base color will fill in all those little gaps.  THEN paint your
stripe again.  It’ll be a little bit wider than you’d planned on but it
should have clean edges this time.  :)

Okay…so here’s the steps:

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1.  Put the blue tape slightly outside the stripe line so your wall base
coat is showing about 1/2 inch or so.
2.  Paint the wall base color over the edge of the tape to fill in those
little gaps.
4.  Paint your stripes.
6.  Remove the tape at a right angle.  If you feel resistance or it
looks like the paint under it is lifting – take a blow dryer and blow it
on the tape as you lift it off.  The heat will loosen the adhesive.  :)

AND…done! Nice clean edges on your stripes. No paint lifted. You’re
good to go.

Anyone can paint clean lines using this technique.  There are lots of “ideas” out there on how to keep the color from bleeding under your tape.  Some people say to run a bead of caulk along the tape edge before you paint so the caulk fills in the gap.  ?!?  Then I’ve got a caulk line on my wall.  No thanks.

Others say to use rubber cement and brush it on the edge of the tape to fill in those gaps before you paint.  Okay… Well… that would work but then you have to go back and rub off all the rubber cement.  In this article we wrote before – Stop Paint from Bleeding through Painter’s Tape – a newsletter subscriber wrote in to say she’d heard that you could use acrylic gel medium.  Not  a bad idea but be careful of your sheen.

This way – using your base coat/color to fill the gap – just seems the simplest way to resolve this issue to me.

One note.  When I say “LET IT DRY” I mean just until it’s dry to the touch.  I do not mean let it dry for 4 days.  Lol!  ;)  Let it dry for about an hour or two…or three…but then it’s time to do the next step.  If that means time to paint the stripes then paint the stripes!  Its most important when it’s time to remove the tape.  Don’t leave it on for days on end.  It gets harder to remove.  The blow dryer helps and makes it much easier but it just comes off easier if you don’t wait for days on end.

Hope this helps…

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  1. Paint Lady Co. says

    PS… Clear glaze [faux painter's always have a can of that around!] works just as well to seal tape for stripes, drys faster that paint too!

  2. THAT Painter Lady says

    You’re right, Mary. You can use clear glaze. Just need to remember to make sure the sheen of the glaze matches the sheen on the wall or you can end up with a shiney line that GLARES out at you. ;) That’s why – to me – it’s just easier to use my base coat. I KNOW I won’t have a problem there. Same same! :)

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