Using and buying tape
The old days of “picking up any old roll of tape” are long gone, but along with that, the days of tape not working where and when you need it are fading away pretty fast too. More and more products mean there’s a better chance you can use tape successfully on a wide variety of surfaces. But that bring up a more insistent question of what to use and when, and do you really need to spend “that much money” if something less expensive will do.
For this Q&A, let’s start by trying to save you some money. Will saving money on a purchase price cost you more time and labor down the road? It depends, say our tape experts—despite all the recent achievement in this sticky realm, tan tape can still be a good companion.
Q. To tan or not to tan? Is beige still the rage?
Kacie Baon Category Manager, FrogTape® Brand Painters Tape: As long as the tape will only be up for a short period of time, there are some cases when beige tape might work fine. These tapes have higher adhesion, so it carries a higher risk of damage to your surface. Also, they are not designed to deliver sharp paint lines. The cost attributed to the time it takes to touch up mistakes easily offsets the incremental upfront tape investment to achieve premium results the first time. Remember to take these factors into consideration when making purchase decisions.
Lisa Molinaro, Brand Communications Manager, 3M Construction & Home Improvement Markets Division: Tan can still be a good choice, especially in applications where the surface is robust and the tape isn’t on the surface very long before removal. New residential construction is a good example: you can use a lot of tape, so performance at a good price is important.
Brandon Paas, Consumer Marketing Manager, Intertape Polymer Group: There is nothing wrong with tan tape. A lot of tan masking tape performs just as good as its equivalent blue. A common misconception is that only “blue” is painter’s tape, when in fact all masking tape is essentially “painter’s” tape. When jobs or projects have unique or different requirements (which most do) then some more specific products may be required to complete at the desired level.
Roland Kolilias, President, Blue Dolphin Sundries: It depends on the use; tan tape is not a bad option if you are going to remove it the same day. However, if you are going to leave it on the substrate longer, beware of removal issues. User Beware!
Q. A lot of painters prefer to cut in rather than use tape, but are there times when taping might be a better choice, even for the experienced pro?
Brandon Paas, Intertape: Yes! We always recommend taping first even if you are a skilled cut-in painter. Taping adds an “insurance” to the project. It’s the comfort of knowing that in the unfortunate situation that anything goes wrong, the necessary prep work was done to help alleviate some of the headache. Ultimately, proper prep work will save time and money in the event of an error. Without prep work, the only other option would be to redo the work.
Roland Kolilias, Blue Dolphin: We believe the answer will be YES!! The taping process may be a bit time consuming at first, but this step proves to save time and money on the project. Even the best cut-in professional will be able to save time over the project. You will be more relaxed and confident with the extra protection of the tape, so your project moves faster.
Kacie Baon, FrogTape: Even for the most expert painters, there are situations where it makes sense to bring in FrogTape in order to get that perfectly sharp line—for example, dramatic color contrasts where even the tiniest mistake will be glaringly obvious. It’s also good to tape when you are painting in close quarters or coating elaborate moldings where it is extremely difficult to maintain the proper hold and angle with your brush to get a perfect line.
Another reason to use tape is if your team of painters has varied levels of experience and expertise. You can’t expect everyone to perform to the best painter’s level. One more example: if you are an experienced pro, you may not always tape off the ceiling when you’re painting the wall. But we suggest that if you’re painting a coffered ceiling, the job calls for a premium tape that allows you to get perfect lines when it matters most.
Lisa Molianro, 3M: It’s hard to say whether you can go faster. However, even a skilled painter can benefit from having the right tape for the specific job or surface. The right tape can help to avoid rework and costly mistakes.
Q. Now that there are more tapes to pick from, it’s not quite as easy to just have a few rolls in your truck for any situation. Will you be outside, inside, concrete, stucco, wood, metal, high humidity? If you don’t want to drive around with 40 rolls “just in case,” what’s the best way to buy tape these days?
Molinaro, 3M: If painters need a tape for like surfaces across many jobs, it makes sense to stock up on that specific tape—our tape for Trim + Baseboards is a great example. ScotchBlue brand offers a range of tapes, each designed for a specific surface. If there is a need for a specific tape to tackle a unique surface for an individual job, such as curved outdoor windows, we have you covered there as well with our Platinum Exterior tape. Take stock of your job, and purchase accordingly.
Kolilias, Blue Dolphin: We suggest that painters purchase all sundries (not just tape) based on their next job. Tapes will lose the ability to perform if not cared for properly. You may do an interior job one week and an exterior the next, so you’ll need different products.
Baon, FrogTape: This is highly dependent on the structure of your business and your current workflow. While it’s true that you can save money by buying in bulk, some of the more specialized tapes might be reserved for particular uses, and therefore you may not need a bulk supply.
Q. So it’s the morning of that big job, how does a painter make the right choice with so much more to pick from?
Kolilias, Blue Dolphin: Painters sometimes will get frustrated with all the choices available today, especially if they are still looking for that old standby everyday product. It’s a good idea for a specialty contractor to embrace new, innovative products for hard to complete projects. That is where Blue Dolphin really shines, with new and innovative products that will complement today’s coatings and advanced technology.
Baon, FrogTape: Many contractors have a go-to tape that they use most often, so it is up to us as the manufacturer to communicate what differentiates our product line and how that can help you as a painter understand how to use different tapes to get your job done more efficiently. That way, instead of feeling like “How on earth am I supposed to choose from 20 kinds of tape?” you will say, “Oh—these tapes over here are for X situation. I don’t need that right now. But these over here are for Y situations, and that’s exactly what I’m looking for. Now let me see which of these three or four is the best choice.” That X or Y situation may be the surface being taped, the environmental conditions of the job, the length of time the tape can be left on, etc. But the decision will always be easier if we first help you narrow down the choices to those that are relevant to your projects.
Paas, Intertape: When marketing tape, there are two crucial factors we need to consider: give customers the products they demand and educate them on the differences of the products. Not everybody’s job will require a standard blue or tan, so they shouldn’t be limited to just those options. Some jobs or projects require UV protection, delicate surface prep, ability to stick to concrete, ability to conform to irregular surfaces…and the list goes on. At IPG our goal is to offer a product for everyone’s needs, whether it’s a large job using cases of tan masking, or a small project requiring a roll of Pro Mask Blue with Bloc-It.
Q. OK, since we’ve talked about so many new options, what are some of your new products?
Paas, Intertape: IPG has reformulated its Stucco Masking Tape. It is designed to offer a high degree of conformability without excessive stretch. It is great for many construction jobs including seaming poly, floor and surface protection. Benefits include:
• Tears easily.
• For exterior insulation and finish systems (EIFS) and stucco applications.
• UV resistant.
• Performs well in hot and cold conditions.
Baon, FrogTape: We are always looking to improve and expand our product line in ways that help the contractor get the job done. In fact, we look forward to showcasing new product introductions at the National Hardware Show in May. Stay tuned!
Molinaro, 3M: Our most recent innovation, ScotchBlue Platinum Interior Painter’s tape, is made with a conformable poly-material that removes easily in one long pull without slivering or tearing for faster prep and removal (compared to 3M paper-backed masking tapes). It provides ultra-sharp paint lines on baseboards, trim, glass and metal for professional results.
Kolilias, Blue Dolphin: Blue Dolphin Poly/Sheathing tape is designed to hold heavier gauge plastic to walls and trim. These plastics require a heavier tape product to hold them in place; traditional masking tapes will not do the job. The Blue Dolphin products eliminate the use of harsh duct tapes that will damage the walls and trim. It will adhere well to the plastic while offering the painter a 14-day clean release product.
One final question: is it painters tape, painter’s tape, or painters’ tape? Everyone agrees: painter’s tape. For an editor, that’s the most important answer of the article. For the rest of you, there’s plenty more useful information!