Masking Tape Vs Painters Tape (Why The Difference Matters)

Masking tape vs painter's tape is an ongoing dilemma for painting because it’s important to get crisp, straight line for paint jobs.

When should you use painting tape? When should you use regular masking tape?  

We break down the pros and cons of each type of tape as well as what style works best for each painting situation.  

Masking tape is not the same thing as painter’s tape. These are two different tapes though they can be used to accomplish the same goal.

Regular masking tape for indoor and outdoor applications is a paper tape that has a rubber side that “sticks” to whatever it touches.  

Painter’s tape is lighter than regular masking tape and painter’s tape is designed to stick to surfaces without bleeding to create a clean paint line.

The main difference between masking tapes tend to have sticky rubber residue that might get left behind or even pull paint off the wall.  

Masking Tape Vs Painters Tape: Which Is Better For Painting & Why?

Masking Tape and Painter's Tape: Which To Use For Painting? 

1. Tape Adhesiveness

Masking tape is stickier than painter’s tapes and tends to stick better as well as stay stuck. However, masking tape also leave residue and remove masking tape residue can pull water based paint off of the wall or off of furniture. Painter’s tapes are designed to lightly stick to surfaces and to create a clean line. 

2. Ease Of Clean Removal

Painter’s tapes are easier to remove than masking tape. It does not have the natural rubber adhesive that masking tape has, which makes general purpose masking tape “stick” harder to surfaces and therefore more difficult to remove. Masking tape can also leave a sticky residue behind that can muck up the painting project. 

3. Susceptible To Paint Bleed

Painter's tapes are least vulnerable to paint bleed and provides the tightest surface seal. Masking tape has a tight seal, but it isn't a clean seal, meaning that the adhesive isn't evenly distributed along the tape, and therefore prevent paint can get underneath the line of the masking tape and painter’s tape "bleed." 

4. Paint Blocking

When it comes to paint blocking leave painter's tape is the best choice because it has a neat, clean seal. Masking tape adhesive can allow the paint to get under the tape and bleed downward. This won’t result in the clean, clear line that you want on your painting project. 

5. Cost

Painter’s tapes are more expensive than masking tape. In fact, in most areas, painter's tape is double the cost of masking tape. If you need to save money and don't mind a little paint bleeding, then masking tape can be used. 

masking tape ready for paint project

Using Masking Tape For Painting

Painters and homeowners might choose  from general purpose masking tapes for their painting jobs if they want to save money, if they have excess masking tape lying around their home, or if they cannot access painters tape.  

Masking tape has a strong adhesive and will stick well to most surfaces; however, masking tapes can leave residue behind a sticky residue that is difficult to remove. We recommend using masking tape if painters tape is not available or if you do not mind cleaning the painted surface afterward. 

Masking tape is best used for painting stripes difficult surfaces. The difference between masking tape and painter's tape is that, masking tape is also a cheaper alternative if money is a consideration.  

Masking tape is a great choice for someone who wants to use the tape for multiple purposes. The difference between masking tapes are versatile tapes and can be kept for other uses. However, we strongly recommend using painters tape for all painting projects where a professional paint finish is desired. you should know the main difference between masking tape and painter's tape


  • Affordable 
  • Versatile 
  • Cheap 
  • Readily available at stores 


  • Sticky residue 
  • Risk of paint bleeding  
  • Difficult clean removal  

Using Painter's Tape For Painting 

Painters and homeowners might choose painters tape for their painting projects if they want a professional paint finish. Painters tape is not as strong as masking tape, but it does have a tighter seal for clean lines. 

If you use painter’s tape, you can easily remove the paint layer when finished with the project and come away with defined clean lines. This is helpful for painting walls in rooms so that you avoid line bleeding. 

This type of tape is more expensive than masking tapes, though, and this is where the idea to skip it and use masking tape comes in. We recommend using painter's tape for all of your painting projects instead of use masking tapes where a professional aesthetic is needed.  

Blue vs. green painter's tape is a question that we are commonly asked. The difference between the two tapes is the tack level. 

Blue painter’s tape has a medium tack level, which means that it will stick to most surfaces, but green painter's tape has a high tack level and is better for areas that need to be stickier.  

For example, wood trim or wood window frames would benefit from green painter’s tape instead of blue painter’s tape.  

man using painter's tape at home


  • Clean, professional line 
  • Easy to remove 
  • Designed specifically for paint projects 
  • Little to no paint bleeding  


  • More expensive 

Other Types Of Tapes Compared For Painting 

Frog Tape and Painters Tape

Frog Tape is a brand of tape that is often used for painting and is considered by many to be "green painter's tape." Frog Tape is stronger than most forms of blue painter's tape and is an excellent option for projects that require more adhesive or a stronger seal.

Frog Tape is typically overkill for projects such as walls, but for a 3-dimensional furniture piece, Frog Tape is a great choice. 

Washi Tape Vs Painters Tape

Washi tape is a tape that is often used for craft projects, and it works best for paper projects. Washi tape does have a strong adhesive, but it was created specifically for craft projects, and we recommend using it with paper, plastic, and metal projects.

It is a decorative patterns tape, so it comes in a variety of styles and can add to your project. It does come off of materials easily without leaving adhesive behind. Washi tape is similar to painter’s tape but tends to cost more. 

Painters Tape Vs Duct Tape

Duct tape is known for its strong and sticky adhesive crepe paper backing. Although duct tape is a great choice when it comes to keeping pieces of material together, it is a terrible choice for painting due to crepe paper backing. Not only is it prone to air bubbles, but it also can pull paint job off of the wall and create chips and flakes in your project. 

Automotive Tape Vs Painters Tape

Automotive tape can be used on walls and is a generally safe alternative to painter’s tape. The problem with automotive tape is that it tends to be more expensive because it was designed to stick to a vehicle and not to a wall. Nevertheless, this is a good solution if you are painting a piece of furniture with similar material to that of the vehicle's exterior. 

Masking Versus Painters Tape FAQs

Can I use electrical tape as painter's tape? 

Yes, you can use electrical tape as painter’s tape in a pinch, but we would not recommend it. This type of tape is not designed to stick to walls, and the adhesive is designed to stick to plastic exteriors such as wall sockets. 

Why does paint bleed through tape? 

Paint bleeds through tape if the adhesion is not tight enough to create a clean seal. Sometimes paint bleeds through the tape because of the way that it is applied. 

How do I remove painter's tape left on too long? 

You can remove painter's tape by using a hair dryer. The hairdryer can help loosen the tape and allow you to gently peel it back.  

Should I remove painter's tape between coats? 

You can remove the tape and re-taping the area for the next coat of paint but only if it seems like paint could be penetrating the area. Assuming the tape is secure will create the cleanest line and will result in the best finished look.  


Painter's tape is better than masking tape for most painting projects. If you are going to be painting, whether it be a wall or a piece of furniture, we recommend painter's tape.

If you do not have painter’s tape at home and it doesn’t matter if the paint job bleeds (an object vs. a wall with straight lines), then masking tape can be used.