One of the key features by which masking tapes are compared is “clean removal time.” Clean removal time is the maximum amount of time a tape can remain on a surface without leaving adhesive residue or causing damage to that surface.
While paint masking tape almost always offers clean removal, when it comes to the entire masking tape category, that is not always the case.
General-purpose masking tape is made for just that: general use. This often means that it is built for high-adhesion and can be used for non-painting applications such as labeling and bundling. Because of the stronger hold, there is a greater chance of leaving adhesive residue or surface damage behind when removed, so it is not suited for painting purposes. On the other hand, paint masking tapes are designed to remove cleanly without residue or damage when the project is finished.
Generally, the higher the adhesion strength, the shorter the clean removal time. For example, medium- to high-adhesion professional grade painter’s masking tapes have a clean removal time of 3 days, while a light-adhesion delicate surface painter’s tape has a clean removal time of 60 days.
When it comes to paint projects, it’s important to remember that for the best results possible, you will want to remove the painter’s tape while the paint is still wet in order to prevent the paint and tape from bonding. So those clean removal times of 8, 14, 21 or even 60 days apply to how long the tape is up before the first coat of paint — not after the painting is complete.
An important note to keep in mind: direct sun exposure can have a significant impact on clean removal times. UV rays can break down the adhesive more quickly, reducing clean removal times.
Protecting surfaces from damage and adhesive residue is important. Be sure to select your tape products accordingly.