Tape Release Times

Tape Release Times

Tape And Adhesive Removal

How long should I wait to remove the tape after I've painted?
Every tape has a release time that you should be familiar with.  I going to discuss the release times of the tapes I regularly use and what happens if you go past these times.  


FrogTape Pro Grade Orange production tape is the most commonly used tape I use as a professional painter.  This tape has a 3 day release time.  The best way to describe the release time is that it is the time frame by which the tape will cleanly release from the surface it is applied too. I rarely leave our production tape on the surface over night for professional and image related reasons.


FrogTape multi-surface Green has a polymer on the outside edge of the tape to stop paint bleed and uses a premium paper.  The is my second most commonly used tape and it has a release time of 21 days. This makes the tape a little more versatile as I am more confident leaving the tape applied to the surface for more the 3 days.


The third tape on my list would be FrogTape Pro Grade Blue which is similar to the green tape but comes in 4 packs and uses a non-premium paper to reduce cost.  This tape has a release time of 14 days.  I used this tape on floors at the paper seams as the paper seams more durable to walk on and it has the same polymer on the edge of the tape.  Be extremely cautious when masking to non-cured floor coatings.  FrogTape Yellow is a better option for this. Any tape could pull the coating right off the wood.  


One last tape I will discuss that we occasionally use is FrogTape Yellow delicate surface tape.  This tape has a 60 day release time.  Once again these release times I have listed refer to the time the tape will cleanly release from the surface and not leave residue behind or damage the surface.  The Yellow version is perfect for direct contact to wood floors, decorative finishes, and wallpaper.


Typically the longer the release time the more expensive the tape. If you leave your tape on past these release times it is my experience that the tapes may splinter easier and residue may be left behind. One other thing to consider is if you leave tape on past these recommended release times you may incur damage to the surface they have been applied to.  Follow the release guidelines so you keep cost, labor, and frustration to a minimum. 


When painting and using tape to get clean lines I get asked a lot when do I remove the tape.  I do have several videos on my YouTube channel Paint Life TV explaining this method in detail but I will briefly discuss it here.  Generally speaking I never let paint dry that has been applied to the surface and that has also got on the tape itself.  This will cause what we call bridging.  Paint bridging also known as sharks teeth can be very frustrating and time consuming to fix.


When you attempt to remove the tape from the surface, the paint that has dried on the surface and filled in or over the tape seam and onto the tape will stay connected as one piece. There is a better bond on the tape in many cases causing the paint to peel off your wall or surface applied easier.  As you pull the bridging paint will peel off the painted surface in what we call sharks teeth.  This is very frustrating.  In order to remedy this we always pull our tape before the paint dries.  This also applies if you are caulking your tape and painting over the caulking.  Bridging will occur if you let the caulking or the paint dry.  Watch my video for a more detailed description of this.  On exception to this rule is if you are painting with flat paints or Tower Accelerator Caulking.  


Flat paints have less acrylic in the paint therefore the paint is not as flexible or stretchy.  This characteristic causes paint to snap or break at the seam and not stretch and pull off in sharks teeth patterns. This is also the case with coatings like lacquers which break verses stretch.  


Removing Tape Residue

How do I remove adhesive residue? If the tape is still intact on the surface, use a hair dryer or heat gun to loosen the adhesive, and remove all the backing from the adhesive.  I keep a heat gun in my paint trailer for removing tape, paint, stickers, and vinyl logos or letters from many surfaces.


Remove as much adhesive as possible by either rubbing the adhesive off with your finger, or by applying a fresh piece of tape over the adhesive to pull it up from the surface.  Now this may be impractical if there is a lot of adhesive.  If residue remains, use a chemical-based cleaner or try one or more of the following:


  • Citrus-based cleaners
  • Krud Kutter
  • Hydrocarbon solvent such as turpentine; a toluene-based cleaner
  • Wallpaper Paste Remover
  • Ammonia-based cleaner


I recently made a video and posted on my YouTube channel testing and reviewing various paint and adhesive removers.  Krud Kutter adhesive mover was one of the top performers.  You can see which ones work and which ones don’t work. Different tapes have different types of adhesive, so choose the cleaner carefully and test in an inconspicuous place before use.


When using cleaners, wipe with a cheesecloth or loose-nap fabric rags to allow the adhesive residue to imbed into the fabric and not simple smear around the surface. After using cleaners, rinse surface with a generous amount of clean water.  I like adding Dawn dish soap to warm water.


If the adhesive residue has been on the surface for a long time or is highly cured, scraping may be required to break up the adhesive in order to remove it.  I usually use a Linbide scraper and or razor blade.  Use lightly and with finesse.


If Painter’s Tape is used on or with a lacquer coating, the surface may react with the adhesive on the tape, making it difficult to remove. In this case, buffing or sanding may be required to remove the adhesive from the surface. 


Removing adhesive residue can put the surface it is adhered to at risk. If mechanical means (like scraping or abrading) are required to remove adhesive residue, most painted surfaces are at risk and have the potential to be damaged, regardless of the type of finish or level of cure time. Be careful and know your tape and its limitations.  

In Collaboration with ShurTape

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1 comment

Do you do one or two coats spraying trim? What if you are doing two coats, do you pull the tape when it’s wet and then retape?

Thomas Taylor

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