How to Remove Stuck-on Masking Tape From the Wall

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You can remove stuck on masking tape from the wall.
Image Credit: Eugenio Marongiu/Image Source/GettyImages

Normally, masking tape peels off surfaces with ease and without leaving any residue behind. To remove tape from a wall without peeling the paint, make sure you peel the tape away within a few days, because the longer it stays put, the harder it is to remove. Some low-quality brands may even leave a gummy mess behind, along with stray bits of tape. No matter what the situation, if pieces of tape are stuck to the wall, a little heat often does the trick.


Use a Hairdryer

Warming up the stuck-on tape helps soften the adhesive, much the way a hot summer day makes chewing gum on pavement get sticky and stretchy. Once the adhesive is soft and pliable again, it loosens its grip on the wall, which makes it easier to remove the tape as well. Tape retailer TapeManBlue recommends using a medium or high setting on a hair dryer and warming up the tape. Holding the hairdryer several inches away and slowly moving it for 30 seconds or so may be enough to loosen the tape, depending upon the hairdryer's heat-blowing capabilities. Peel a corner of the tape and tug at it; it should come up a bit more easily once it's warm.


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If the tape still isn't coming up easily, heat it for a minute or two, working on one small area at a time. A plastic scraper helps free any tape that's really stuck, or if the tape is in pieces so small you can't peel them with ease. If necessary, use a metal scraping tool that's similar to a razor blade, holding the blade edge almost parallel to the wall as you work to avoid scratching the paint finish.


If your hairdryer just doesn't get hot enough, a heat gun also works, but proceed with extreme caution. Heat guns blow air that's hot enough to burn your skin or even damage the wall. Hold the heat gun about 12 inches away and only use it for only 5 to 10 seconds at a time until you get a feel for how hot it gets and how fast it gets hot. It's very easy to underestimate the power of a heat gun and to burn yourself indirectly by touching the heated surface, so use it only as a last resort.


Removing the Residue

Even really old, brittle tape usually comes off the wall once heated, but sometimes, it leaves behind a little adhesive residue or small stubborn bits of tape. If that happens, apply a little soapy water to a lint-free cleaning cloth, wring out most of the water, then gently scrub the area with the cloth. Be sure to test an inconspicuous area first, as some matte paints don't hold up well to moisture; generally, the glossier the paint, the better it handles being washed. Run your hand over the area to determine if any tape or residue remains; if so, rub a plastic scrub pad gently over the area, repeating as needed.


Citrus-based adhesive removers do a great job of removing sticky gunk remaining on the wall; just be sure the brand you choose is safe for your wall surface. Apply a small amount of the substance to the wall and let it sit as recommended; Goo Gone recommends a 3 to 5-minute waiting time. Wipe the area from the outside of the sticky area inwards with a clean lint-free cloth. Follow up by applying a little dish soap and hot water to a clean cloth, rub the spot, wipe it again with just water, then pat it dry with yet another clean cloth. Be sure to test the adhesive removal on an inconspicuous area first to ensure it doesn't stain the wall.



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