Masking Tape Trouble

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Well-Known Member
Jun 2, 2011
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Last year I had loads of trouble with masking off area to paint. Following all the tips on the forum I bought some pretty expensive (£5 a roll) masking tape made by R/C Car manufacturer Tamiya. This stuff seemed really nice and was great quality. I applied to the rocket, got it stuck on well and started to paint.

All was going really well and I thought I was going to get a really crisp line, I did which was great but the tape left behind a really sticky residue. :(

Could I have done something to cause this or was it the tape? The tape was on for about a week before I peeled it off if that affects anything.

Leaving the tape on for a week shouldn't have affected it under normal circumstances.

Now, there are some "30 day extended perfect release " masking tapes out there for projects where your working with paint that needs extra long drying periods. Tamiya has good tape, so perhaps the undercoat wasn't completely dry - say sitting for a week or so before masking it.

I try to peel using the "down and away" method - that is down and away from the painted section. This leaves a crisper line.

I also peel the tape off within an hour, never longer, simply because I guess i'm not patient. Unless I have a massive painting project that will require hours to peel that tape is off pretty quick. lol

Sorry for the problems..
I've never had a problem with the Tamiya tape - in fact that is all I use for the paint edge. Then again, I don't think I have ever left in on for more than a couple of days.
I remove the tape immediately after painting. This way, the paint is still "liquid" enough to flow out at the tape edge, after it (the tape) is removed.
I noticed some extended period masking tape at focus and b+q perhaps it might be cheaper than £5:)
Originally posted by Silverleaf
Tamiya has good tape, so perhaps the undercoat wasn't completely dry - say sitting for a week or so before masking it.

I will admit the paint might not of been 100% dry, the tape did pull up a bit of paint which indicates it wasn't. Would this really cause the tape to leave stickiness behind?

I might do a bit of an experiment on on some scrap tube.
I usually use the 3M brand blue masking tape and it's given me outstanding results. The one exception was when I used some Krylon glitter paint. It's got so much solvent in it that it seeped under the edge of the tape and dissolved the tape adhesive, as well as some of the other paint underneath it! This was also partially due to over-application, but it happened a little bit even when I only sprayed lightly.

I'm with wwattles on the blue 3M tape. However, a week is a long time to leave masking tape on and I've had that same issue. I usually follow the same policy as Stones when it's applicable and removing the tape immediately won't create issues. Otherwise, I'll remove it after an hour or two. Masking tape adhesive seems (in my experience) to become more unforgiving with time.
Parafilm M is better than any masking tape since it doesn't leave a sticky residue and since it is clear you can easily tell if the edge is stuck down enough to prevent seepage.


Look about halfway down the page under masking applications.

Bruce S. Levison, NAR #69055
Teflon is absolutely correct!
Parafilm M is the overall best thinnest "solid" masking material out there. It does have a learning curve, but will produce outstanding results on just about any surface or curvature. I've even had it mask very tiny recesses that other masking materials "except liquids" wouldn't get in.
I use a lot of 3m blue and green fine line and ultra fine line tapes. but for the thinnest "Paint dams" Parafilm M is by far the best.

Another trick to help whatever masking material you are using, is a coat of matte clear between color coats. Also seal over the edges of your making material with matte clear, it seals the edge, making under wicking very difficult, without adding as much thickness as another coat of the base color while mattes flashes off much quicker than anything gloss. Using matte clear you will also be able to pick up imperfections you might miss otherwise. Use a ultra fine "Scotchbright" pad (or 600grit sandpaper) with water to wet sand those nasty paint dams bewteen color coats. you'll sware the model was hand painted. I'm not sure if you can see in this pic below the 3 color seperation on the vanguard, Frost line, cable duct and base color. all applied as discribed above.
Final advantage for matte clear seperation coats,is it acts as a barrier if you "quickly" decide you've made an error. A little thinner on a clear rag acts as an eraser for paint. Not for an entire color coat mind you but for the detail in the wrong place or the overspray splat, or end of can droplet. Clean white T shirt material works best as an eraser with a drop of miniral spirits, or terps. One dab then a new spot on the rag, one dab, new spot etc.. until you have removed the unwanted error.
hope this helps.
Some tapes are just plain too sticky. There are times when I have to paint in a hurry and the base layer is not competely dry what I do is take strips of masking tape and put it on a mirror or piece of glass, then pull it off. This removes excesses of adhesive without adding those little fuzzies which seem to add themselves to the base coat. I always do a test strip on a fin which I can repaint easily if there's a problem.
The tape may as stated may have been applied while the surface was still setting. I try to wait for a few days between coats or colors, depending on paint brand, I may wait as long as a week. For Trim tape though, I use also use very good stuff...the 3M Automotive Trim Tape. This is the GREEN stuff you get at auto paint stores and it comes in a variety of widths. I use 1/4" wide the most.

I only use the tape for the initial edge, then use masking overlaid and behind it. I always seal the tape edge with either a light coat of clear or the same color you just painted. Yes, the same color, because if it bleeds under the tape, it matches. This light coat is enough of a seal to allow you to apply the next color and get a perfect line.

There is an excellent article in the March/April 2004 issue of Sport Rocketry by John Pursley on page12 titled "Painting Corrugations and Stringers". He uses the Tamiya tape for masking and mentions he that he only masks immediately before he is ready to paint and removes the tape as soon as possible after the paint coat has dried.

I wonder if Parafilm M is not widely used since most people can't find a palce to buy it. I have left Parafilm M on some fully cured paints for years will no ill effects. Occasionally it will leave a waxy smudge that can be buffed away with a soft cloth. You have to follow the instructions at the web site I gave above or it won't work!

Bruce S. Levison, NAR #69055
I also use the 3M masking tape , and even that is a little too sticky! So what i like to do is , peal enough of the roll , stick it to my shirt , then peel it back off , that way it doesnt leave any residue on the tube :p
OK, I tried the Tamiya tape again today and for some reason I decided to risk it on my Deuce!?!

Good news is it was *perfect* I had the tape off about an hour and half after it was on and there was no residue at all. Having applied the tape I did another coat of base colour to seal the tape then then hit it with the top colour. The line was perfectly bit of masking I've ever done!

No problems using Tamiya tape again!