How to Remove Old Painter's Tape

Lead Image
What You'll Need
Razor blade
Tape remover
Hair dryer

Painter's tape is a useful type of tape which you use to create neat lines when you paint. However, if you leave the painter's on the surface for long, it can dry out. When the tape dries out, it becomes almost impossible to remove. Many people have battled with dried-on painter's tape at one time or another. They may forget to remove all the tape and leave it on walls, furniture or windows.

One of the most successful methods of removing the painter's tape is to scrape it or sand it down. Scraping or sanding, however, will also damage the finish of the wall or window. If you need to remove the tape, try some of these other tips to leave your decoration intact. All of these methods work slightly differently; you will need to experiment to find one that works for you.

Dampen the Painter's Tape

Using warm water and a soft cloth, dampen the tape for a couple of minutes. Hopefully, this will loosen the tape and allow you to peel back the sticky mess and pull it away from the wall. The water should soften the glue, but it may leave behind a sticky residue. If this happens, you can remove the residue with a razor blade. Just be careful not to gouge into the surface.

Use a Hair Dryer

Use the hairdryer on the hottest mode to soften the glue. The heat should make the painter's tape easier to peel off. Before you try this method, make sure the heat won't cause damage to the material the tape is fixed to.

Painter's tape on a wall.

Try Commercial Removers

A number of commercial products may work to remove adhesive. For example, you can spray WD-40 onto the painter's tape. If it softens the glue enough, you should be able to peel the tape off the wall without damaging the finish.

Apply Spirits and Thinners

Spirits and thinners may also get rid of the glue by eating through it. Then you can wipe off the residue with a cloth. Before you begin, you must check that the spirits or thinners won't cause any damage to the surface underneath.

Apply Finishing Touches

With all the steps, you might still face a small amount of residue. In this case, you should use a razor blade to gently scrape away at the sticky residue. Either use a single-sided or plastic-style scraper for this job. Plastic scrapers are available at most DIY stores and are both safe and easy to grip.