Tuesday, May 7, 2013

When do you take off the painters tape?

Earlier today, I finished painting the living room bookshelves.*  The prep was a bit slow, but painting (with a 4" roller and a brush) was a breeze.

I protected the walls by inserting heavy card stock in the corners (cut up file folders) and green tape along the edges.

Except, I couldn't figure out the best time to take off the painters tape.

- If I left the tape until after the paint dries, when I pull it down, it rips apart and I have skinny little pieces of green that stick to the shelves. I need tweezers to get them off.

- If I removed the tape as soon as I was done painting, I risked bumping my knuckles along the freshly painted shelf.

I couldn't win. I went with removing it as I go, only because if I accidentally splattered on the wall, I could clean up the mess with a wet paper towel (once the paint dries, I am screwed, at least, I think I would be...I am a paint novice)

Oh, and because I did two coats, I had to prep the wall with tape twice, instead of leaving it there until I was completely finished.

Anyways, what do you do?

ps. painting them before they were installed would have made my life easier, but I was putting off buying the paint. I needed to colour match the existing trim, which is oil-based and has yellowed. I had no idea how simple it was to request a custom colour matched can. I removed the painted hinge from my dining room swing door and brought it in to Maple Paints at Bathurst and St Clair. They mixed the ca, then rubbed a little on the hinge to make sure it was correct. It was a little on the pink side. So they mixed a new can, and it was a perfect match. 
pps. Happy dance that it's done! 

*How long should I let them dry before I can bring down the books? 24-hours?

UPDATE: I am going to wait another week, or maybe two, before putting the books up...to be on the safe side! 


  1. My only tip is to use really long strips of tape and pull them off at an angle. This can help to prevent the dreaded narrow strips that get left behind. Have never tried removing the tape when the paint is wet - will have to try that next time. Our fireplace and built-ins are getting installed tomorrow but the carpenter doesn't paint so I'll likely end up trying to do it.

  2. at least you painted and it looks great. I usually have no patience & rip it off right away!

  3. Take the tape off after the second coat when it's still wet instead of having to tape twice. And when you're taping only sealing the edge that is against the painting area makes it easier to pull off and gives you a crisper edge. Pulling off at an angle is very good advice.
    Definitely wait 48 hours before putting in the books. It will be dry within hours, but curing time is important for the lasting quality of the paint job. Adding the books earlier risks marking the paint.

  4. I recently made the switch to frog tape which is so superior to the blue stuff it isn't even funny. Is that what you used? I always wait until it dries and I find patience really pays when removing the stuff. I admit I find removing the tape kind of perversely satisfying. I just methodically pull and stop as soon as I get a tear and then pick with an exacto knife to get back on track. 48 hours to place stuff on shelves -as hard as that may be.

  5. Oh how I hate painting. I think it's from being a superintendent of our apt. building and painting about 20 apartments over the five years we lived there. Gah.
    The one good thing? We painted everything the same colour - walls, ceiling, bathroom, bedrooms so we didn't have to use that wretched tape. My commitment is a thing to behold, I know.

  6. I remove tape as soon as possible. In your case I would have taken it off after an hour (so your knuckles didn't get covered in paint). Like Charlotte says below, I also ensure I take it off at a 45 degree angle. It usually prevents any paint from being lifted up.

  7. Ok, I know I am a little late on this, but I tried to comment last night and my dumb phone had a spaz out while trying to log into disqus. In an effort to not lose my mind I just put my phone away. But here's my 2 cents anyway...
    I'd take the tape off about half an hour after painting...giving it enough time to dry so your knuckles don't rub paint off, but not enough time to completely dry. As for moving the books back, if it was me I'd wait a week. I've ended up with too many vases and such stuck to furniture because I was impatient. It depends on the brand of paint, etc, but I'd give it at least 4 days before putting anything on it...preferably longer.
    They really are going to look great once you get your book collection on there!