Stop Paint From Seeping Under Painters Tape

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This age old problem is one that plagues every decorative painter.

Textured walls don’t like tape.  It is very difficult to get painters tape to stick in all the tiny grooves of the wall… leaving tiny voids for paint to seep under and ruin out perfect straight lines.

I had a cry for help (You can ask for help anytime by email…  when you Subscribe To My Email Newsletter in the right hand column) and will try to give the best suggestions below.

dear debra,
I am painting my computer room and would like to stripe the walls half way up with a solid color on top and a chair rail.

When I started to paint the stripes the color is seeping under the painters tape and getting on to the other color. The walls are textured. I have really pressed the tape as hard as I can to stop this but it is still happening. Any suggestions how to stop it?  I would greatly appreciate any help you can suggest .

Thank you debbie

Hey Debbie…. nice name!

First things first!  You have to use the right tape! I found this great new tape that is perfect for keeping paint from seeping under it.

Prevent Paint Seeping Under Tape

Frog Tape, Is The Only Pro Painter’s Tape That Is Treated With Paintblock During The Manufacturing Process, When Latex Paint Comes Into Contact With Frog Tape, Paintblock Instantly Activates & Creates A Micro Barrier, Sealing The Tape Edges.

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The paint leaking under tape problem can be solved with a tiny bit of prevention.

First of all… you don’t need to take all the tape off before you start again… Yeah!

Try these two Professional Painter tricks,

  • Block the color from seeping under by “painting” on a clear coat first.  (or if you have the same color as the original wall color, use that) The idea is that something is going to seep under the tape and leak into the voids.  With a clear color or the base coat color you have now filled those voids with something that will not show after the tape is removed.
    The filled voids will now not allow the new color to seep under!
  • When putting paint on walls that is going to be painted over tapped areas, use caution and patience.  Instead of using a fully loaded brush or roller and gobbing the paint up against the taped area, use light strokes of a brush and paint across the tape.  Place the brush on the tape and brush into the new painted area.  This technique leaves the smallest of chances for paint to sneak it’s way under the tape.

When painting on textured walls, patience is always high on the list of techniques to use.  You can count on some paint seeping under the tape.  Just use a small artists brush to correct these tiny areas.

Remember to step back a distance from your work before you start correcting all the mistakes you might think you will need to.  You will be surprised at how few of those tiny paint bleed under points actually are viewable to anyone just standing in the room.

Often, painters are critical of their work and will over do the repair work.  When you are inches from a wall… all the mistakes are huge.  When you are feet from a wall, most of the mistakes are visible at all.

Hey… and if anyone else has some helpful tips for Debbie, leave a comment below! This site is about sharing and helping everyone.

Good Luck and Let’s Go Paint!

Debra Signature

Technorati Tags: paint seeping under tape, painting stripes, painters tape, decorative painting,

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  1. Anita says


    When painting stripes, isn’t it best to remove the tape while the paint is still wet?
    If so, if I paint a clear coat, or the base coat first, won’t I have to remove the tape and apply fresh tape for the stripes?
    If not, how long does the clear coat/base coat have to dry before applying stripe color?
    Thank you!

  2. THAT Painter Lady says

    The purpose of removing tape while paint is still wet is so that you won’t “pull” dry paint off the wall.

    Another way to explain is that if the paint drys over the tape it can pull off with the tape.

    First… no you don’t need to peel tape off after clear or base coat. If it pulls a little, it won’t show.

    Second, I keep a razor blade on hand when pulling tape. I have never been able to paint fast enough to pull tape off when it is still wet anyway. I wait until the paint drys to see how it looks. The razor blade is used to “cut” the paint if it starts to pull.

    Always pull your tape off at a sharp angle, never just pull straight down. The does help with separating the paint from the tape in a cleaner line.

  3. Junell Salter says

    I just finished painting stripes on my bathroom walls and thought that the paint would not seep under the blue painters tape. But. it did!! What is the best way to correct this?Thanks. . . .

  4. THAT Painter Lady says

    Correcting painted stripes that have had the paint seep under the tape is tedious.

    I usually wait until the paint has fully dried… over 48 hours and then re-tape the stripes. Only taping on the painted stripe instead of taping off as you originally did.

    Then you can paint the base coat wall color in these areas and cover up all the bleeding or seeping paint.

    The trick is to seal the tape before you paint again or the same problem with the seeping paint will happen.

    Seal the tape by making sure the tape is fully sealed to the wall by running something like a credit card down the wall over the tape edge. Then take a clear caulk or clear sealer and paint over that edge. After that is dry, paint away.

    Take some care pulling the tape from the wall and you should now have beautiful stripes!

    You can also just paint out the bleed under spots with a tiny brush. This is tedious, but it really does not take very long.

    Good luck!
    THAT Painter Lady

  5. Mark says

    What a great find! I’ve had this problem too and never found a good solution before. I can’t wait to try it out!

    Can you recommend a type of clear sealer to use? Ideally I would think you’d want something that wasn’t going to affect the gloss or bonding of the subsequent paint layer.

  6. Marissa says

    Mark, I saw a TV show that suggested acrylic gel medium for this purpose. It is available at art supply stores like Aaron Brothers or Michaels’. I don’t know how glossy it is, though it was my understanding that you let it dry before painting over it so it wouldn’t be mixing. I have not tried this yet, but I plan on it. Also, I think there is something you can buy at Home Depot for the same purpose. I don’t know what its called, but I’m sure the person working the paint counter would.

  7. Charles Penkin says

    Everyone here has great solutions; here is one for decorative designs of any size using painter’s tape
    1. Paint background wall color X; let dry
    2. Stencil design on the wall with light pencil markings
    3. Apply painter’s tape (which come in blue or purple) on entire design; overlapping a quarter inch.
    4. Outline the visible pencil markings on top of the tape with any pencil
    4. Remove entire tape; all the pieces in one continuous motion taking care not to remove color X
    5. Use small scissors to cut out corners; use log scissors to cut out long lines.
    6. Remove light pencil markings off the wall and apply your new taped template
    7. Use credit card to seal the edges of the tape
    8. Paint on the clear coat or color X in template design; note if paint is thin use two/three coats ; let dry
    9. Now apply the better paint color Y; note on this step you Can Not go cheap so don’t buy Glidden or Behr instead purchase Sherwin-Williams or better paint; this is to avoid multiple coats, runny paint, etc.; or you can even use thick artist paint
    10. Let dry and remove tape carefully working at an angle; if the surface is wood use the grain direction as your angle; if plastic/metal/sheetrock-drywall use a credit card to help remove tape.
    11. Congrats, Now you have a PROFESSIONAL DESIGN!!

  8. Carolyn says

    Here is how I have successfully painted stripes on textured walls:

    1) Use blue painters tape to mark the lines
    2) Run a small, thin bead of paintable white or clear painter’s caulk along the seam(s) of the tape.
    3) Using your finger or a damp cloth, smooth out the painter’s caulk — be sure to “seal” the seams.
    4) Let caulk dry completely.
    5) Paint stripes, overlapping painter’s tape.
    6) Let paint dry slightly, but carefully remove tape while paint is still “tacky” or slightly wet.

    This has given me perfect results time after time. By the way, a professional painter showed me how to do this. In our area (Colorado) all the houses have textured walls.

  9. Paul0709 says

    Thank you very much for your tip on first painting over the tape with the base color (or clear coat), because after I “erased” (with primer and base color) my first attempt at striping my daughter’s room, the second set of stripes came out razer sharp! I should add that it helps to get the tape off within a couple of hours so that the double coat of paint on the edges doesn’t harden — otherwise you may have to use a blade to score the paint at the edges of the tape.

  10. Jeanette says

    Today I painted 3 beautiful stripes in my client’s sons room. I used blue tape and went over the tape twice to ensure it was tightly taped to the smooth wall. But it all bleed…..a disaster. So tomorrow it’s recovery time. I think I will use a 12″ clear sewing ruler and hold it tight at the edge of the painted stripe and then with a tiny brush put only a minimal amount of the base colour paint to paint a straight line and hope it doesn’t bleed onto the new stripe. I may have to do this twice for two coats to cover the medium toned stripes. It will take a long time but better than redoing everything. Otherwise the stripes look really cool. I will have to wipe the clear ruler with a wet rag and dry it before moving on to paint the next section to be fixed.

  11. THAT Painter Lady says

    Hi Jeanette…

    Oh. my gosh… what a pain to have to paint over again. The ruler might bleed under. The tape probably left a sharp enough line that you can
    see clearly… just use your tiny brush to go along the edge. It really will be much less work that trying to use the ruler.

    Good luck!

  12. Paint Lady Co. says

    Clear faux glazing liquid works great to seal the tape edge before painting stripes, dries fast too! Be sure to paint a total wall base coat first of any of the final stripe colors.


  1. [...] are two other techniques shared by The Painter Lady that I find extremely helpful. First, paint across the line with the existing paint color, leaving little to no room for the new [...]

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