How To Tips: Stop Paint from Bleeding through Painter’s Tape

by THAT Painter Lady

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This must be one of the most frustrating aspects of painting.  Especially when you want to paint stripes and the lines have migrated under the tape.  So how do you stop paint from bleeding under painters tape?  A dear newsletter subscriber has written in to ask that very question:

I have used blue painters tape in the past when painting different colors on adjacent surfaces and the paint always bleeds under the tape in spite of burnishing the edges.

I have read that you can use acrylic gel medium to seal the edge of the blue painters tape when painting stripes or painting 2 different colors of adjacent walls.

What kind of acrylic gel medium should be used for this technique? ~ Joelyn

The most frustrating thing about painting your walls is when you are all done and you go to remove the painter’s tape and you find that the paint has bled through onto your trim or wall.  You wind up spending just as much time touching up as you did doing the finish itself.

Golden Brand Gel MediumI have not used acrylic gel medium yet to seal the tape, but I do know that it could be used. Golden brand make great gel medium. According to the  website, it is translucent when wet and transparent when dry. It increases the brilliance and transparency of acrylic paint.

Click Here To See Golden Matte Medium 8 oz

It can also be used as a transparent ground for acrylic paint or as glue for collage and decoupage.

So, I don’t see why you couldn’t use this.  I would probably go with the matte or satin finish so there isn’t too much of a shine otherwise it’ll show under the tape just like a paint bleed through.

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I like to use a water based varnish or Polycrylic. It dries quickly and keeps the paint from bleeding through.

You may also want to try a new painter’s tape that just came out called: Frog Tape -  Painters Masking Tape.

It is a lime green colored tape (as opposed to blue).  No matter what kind of tape I get my favorite width is 1 1/2″.  But I like to use 2″ for ceilings.  The good news is I’ve found that there is little or no bleeding with this new tape.

Or you can try the trusted (THAT Painter Lady’s Favorite Painters Tape) Blue Tape with Orange Core.  It’s the cardboard core that’s orange not the tape.  Scotch Safe-Release Painter’s Tape.

I usually use a paint stirrer stick or an old credit card to press down the edges of the tape onto the surface. I then use a water based varnish for the corners and other areas where I think the paint will bleed through.  THAT Painter Lady Tawn likes to use the base coat that’s under the tape along the edge and at the corners to seal it up.  It works great and doesn’t change the color under the tape or the sheen.

Whatever method works best for you always remember to remove your tape within 24 hrs of painting.  The longer it’s on there the more likely it will lift off the paint under it.  Tawn and I like to remove the tape – slowly and at an angle – within an hour or two of painting.  That way if anything DID bleed under we still have time to deal with it before it dries completely  ;)

Hope this helps ~

That Painter Lady, too

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Rasmus August 7, 2008 at 2:22 am

when painting one color on top of another,- after putting masking tape on – i normally paint completely OVER the masking tape with the original “background color”, let it dry (this will seal the tape to the wall) and proceed to paint with the new color.
it works everytime, and you don’t have to buy “exotic” products :)
plus you probably already some of the original background color on hand or in your basement.

Joyce Benham August 7, 2008 at 10:18 am

I am not clear on how to use the gel is used. Are you saying that the gel is mixed in with the paint, or applied to the tape (which seems would be quite a task) ?

THAT Painter Lady August 7, 2008 at 12:07 pm

Hi Joyce… The gel is put on clear, not mixed with paint. We use just to seal the gaps between the tape and the wall.

Plus… Rasmus has given another great idea for you to use. (thanks Rasmus!)

All of these ideas work great. It takes a bit of effort to get “clean, crisp” lines with paint… especially on textured walls.

:) debra

Porfirio Rodriguez October 24, 2008 at 10:37 am

Second that Rasmus, great idea. I just painted a sports themed child’s room the other day and I would have loved knowing this before hand. Definitely will try this next time.

Dagrae' Wall Creations-Deb March 23, 2009 at 9:52 pm

I agree the Blue tape-orange core delicate is the best for a clean release and a crisp leakless line….I recommend it highly for all projects, I have found for the most part it is tacky enough for wood, newly painted trim/paint etc.. and rarely pulls/peels the paint from the wall when removing…..Great product…

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