Paint Peeling when Masking Tape is Removed

Troubleshooting a masking tape problem in painted work. July 29, 2012

I'm masking areas and I need the tape to stay on for a few coats. When removing tape, the finish peels. Any tips, besides using a razor? These are mostly inside corners with caulk in the seam, so razor blade is not my favored method. And removing tape between coats and reapplying is not an option.

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor L:
If you are removing the finish with masking tape, you have bigger problems than you think. You seem to have a major adhesion issue. The tape shouldn't be removing the paint for any reason. Fix the adhesion issue and you won't have to worry about the tape in the first place. What kind of paint are we talking about - latex, oil, lacquer, CV, other?

From the original questioner:
I'm using Impervo WB. The areas are primed, but once you start tossing on multiple coats, the dry mil thickness gets up there. It's only peeling back in a small area, but I'm hoping there is a cure - maybe a release agent or something.

From contributor M:
I use the blue nonstick tape when I can. I also allow as much cure time for primer or whatever coat I am masking. This seems to help: whenever I peel the tape back, I do not pull straight up and away. I get better results when I peel the tape back over itself. Keep the tape you are pulling down as low as possible, and parallel to the surface of whatever you have masked. It seems to me the adhesion is released more completely by the sharp bend created where the tape is being folded. And do this all slowly.

From contributor I:
Years ago I cleaned, touched up and recoated an 1860 cottage painted bedroom set for a dealer with the new waterborne lacs that just hit the market. Sprayed it in the morning. When the customer came to pick it up in the afternoon, I took my air blower to get the dust off before we loaded it. It looked like a tickertape parade with all the flakes of finish floating down that had just blown off. You may have a bonding problem, but any WB takes 7 days, at 70 degree temp 24 hours a day to cure. Not only to reach max durability, but max adhesion.

Between your caulk seams and your tape bridging, you need to cut masking joints. That goes for WBs and any acrylic finish. Pre-cats and nitros air dry fast enough and do not have the heavy build. Burnish your tape down and use 3M standard blue long mask. I have two full cases of Shurtape blue that my crew refuses to use because it is so safe to release that it does not stick. Run a new case knife blade around your tape joints and pull down and away from the freshly painted surface. If we have a large house, we routinely leave the stuff up for several weeks at a time. If we are doing a strip, seal, glaze, tone, seal and final, we can have as many as 10 coats of finish with a post cat and rarely do we have finish removal.

From the original questioner:
Thank you. I'm peeling the tape off as stated. Used the frog version. Seems to do well in regard to paint not getting under, but I did burnish it in between coats as you can see some areas lifting. I'm thinking that inside corners are just pooling the paint a bit. I'll take the razor ever so carefully at specific areas to alleviate the issue.

I'm matching the extension jams to the cabinets and the freaking cold window may cause tape adhesion issues.