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How to use masking tape for painting walls

Person using painters masking tape to prep wall before using Lick paint

WordsMaha Elley


Work on pretty much any home design project and you’ll come across this reliable and multi-purpose tool - masking tape. Read on to find out all you need to know about masking tape - what it is, how to use it, and watch our tutorial video below for a step-by-step demo on how to paint a wall with it.

Why use masking tape when painting?

If you want to learn how to paint a wall perfectly, masking tape will be your best friend. This trusty tool plays a big part in helping to achieve clean and sharp lines when painting and saves skirting boards and adjacent surfaces from paint splatters and splodges. More on that below.

What is the best masking tape to use?

Start by choosing the right tape. There are lots of different masking tape options out there, so make sure you buy tape that’s appropriate for your home renovation needs. You can get masking tape that specifically works well with wood, metal or wallpaper. Or, you could just invest in a good old-fashioned multi-purpose masking tape that sticks to all surfaces.

Make sure you have all of your decorating prep ready with our Lick supplies for prepping.

How to use masking tape for painting walls

Make use of masking tape to paint like a pro: 

  1. Start by wiping down the areas you want to tape. Dip a sponge into a warm water and mild detergent mixture and use that to get rid of dirt and grime from surfaces before tape application.
  2. Leave to dry completely before reaching for that tape (warning: skip this and your tape will stick to dust particles instead of surfaces. Make sure you check out how to prep walls for painting).
  3. Once you’ve got a clean and dry surface to work with, start to apply masking tape in foot-long strips. As you’re applying each section, remember to leave enough tape at the end of each strip to overlap the edges of the next section, or you risk exposing small cracks in the middle. I.e. make sure that it overlaps a little with the previous section so paint can’t seep through any cracks.
  4. When applying tape, apply it as close as possible to the surface you’re going to paint. 
  5. Seal tape to the surface, pressing down to make sure it’s properly stuck on. Firm application will ensure the tape bonds to the surface and prevent paint from bleeding and the tape from peeling.
  6. Paint!

How to paint a wall using masking tape

Where to use masking tape

Affix your tape around areas you want to protect and edges where you want to achieve clean, sharp lines: 

  • If you’re painting your walls, tape the edges of the ceiling (right where the ceiling and wall meet), skirting boards, window frames and door frames, light switches and sockets. 
  • If you’re painting a ceiling, mask sections of the adjoining walls using masking tape.
  • Masking tape can also help you protect your floors when painting. Cover up your flooring with a drop cloth and use your trusty tape to secure it in place. Not only that, but masking tape can also help you create wall art - use it as a stencil and get creative with your shapes!