How to Remove Painter's Tape

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Removing painter's tape from your latest paint job is a fairly straightforward, stress-free process -- as long as you remove the tape at just the right time. The key to simple tape removal is peel it away once the paint is dry to the touch. Peeling it up immediately after painting is another option, but that is best done on horizontal surfaces or if you believe the paint is not thick enough to drip over the previously taped lines.

How to Remove Painter's Tape
(Amber Goeden/Demand Media)

Things You'll Need

  • Utility knife or craft knife
  • Hairdryer
  • Lint-free cloth
Step 1

Touch the painted surface with your bare hand to determine if the paint feels dry, especially along the edges of the painter's tape. Once the paint feels dry, pick one end of the tape loose with your fingernail.

Amber Goeden/Demand Media
Step 2

Peel the tape diagonally or at a 90-degree angle, peeling the tape back toward the remainder of the tape strip.

Amber Goeden/Demand Media
Step 3

Peel slowly, closely watching both edges of the tape as you pull it away. If some of the paint comes up with the tape, stop pulling it. Touch the loose paint; if it feels wet or gummy, wait at least an hour before proceeding.

Amber Goeden/Demand Media
Step 4

Score along the edge of the tape with a utility knife or craft knife to break the paint's bond with the tape in the area where the paint was previously wet or along the entire tape strip if the paint still comes up with the tape even when dry. Cut with a light touch to avoid slicing or scratching the project surface.

Amber Goeden/Demand Media
Step 5

Peel the remainder of the tape completely away from the project surface.

Amber Goeden/Demand Media
Step 1

Touch the previously taped area carefully, feeling for sticky spots where adhesive or bits of tape remain. This may also happen if the tape was left on for weeks or longer, or if the tape is of poor quality.

Amber Goeden/Demand Media
Step 2

Warm the gummy areas or bits of tape on a low-heat setting with a hair dryer, holding the hair dryer 4 or 5 inches away from the project surface.

Amber Goeden/Demand Media
Step 3

Rub your fingers or a lint-free cloth over the heated areas to roll the adhesive or old tape onto itself. Continue heating and rubbing the affected areas until all the gummy material has been removed.

Amber Goeden/Demand Media
Step 4

Wipe the cleaned area with a slightly damp lint-free cloth wrapped around your finger to wipe up any last bits of stickiness.

Amber Goeden/Demand Media

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