What is masking tape vs duct tape vs painters tape? Great DIY tool

Masking tape is used by painters, plumbers carpenters, and many other types of workmen. If you are involved in DIY projects which require wood, veneer, cardboard, etc. you too might have used it on a regular basis. It is made of a thin and easy-to-tear paper and there is adhesive affixed on the opposite side. It is mainly used to cover the areas where paint should not be applied. It is made of non-porous material which does not allow the paint to seep in.


The adhesive is made of special ingredients and it does not leave any residue after it is removed. It does not damage the surface in any way and light sanding is enough to remove the residual particles. This tape is available in various adhesive strengths which are rated on a scale of 1-100. It is also known as painter’s tape, and painters require a tape of around 50 adhesive strength to accomplish their work effortlessly.

History of masking tapes

Masking tape was invented by Richard Drew who was an employee of 3M Company. He was a sandpaper manufacturer. This company was founded in 1902 and was originally known as Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company. He invented this tape in 1925 after observing the plight of auto-body paint workers. He understood that they needed an adhesive with gentler adhesive which will come off easily.

Till then, the auto-body parts painters used butcher paper and when they removed it, it used to remove some of the freshly applied paint too. They had to again touch up those areas which increased painting time and costs.

Usage of masking tapes vs painters tape

Masking tapes are used by painters all across the globe to mask off the areas where they don’t want the paint to be applied. If the area is not masked off, the paint bleeds under the edges of other types of tapes which produce a fuzzy line that the painters have to remove later.

Painters tape and masking tape are often seen as the same.

Drafting tape, which is another variety of masking tape is used to hold blueprints to a drawing board. The adhesive strength of this tape is lower than the masking tape used by the painters and it can be easily removed from the drawing board or light table without damaging the blueprint.

There are house painter’s masking tapes available in multiple ratings. It is primarily rated on the number of days it can be left on the surface without creating an adhesive mark. It is available in 1-3, 3-7, 7-14, 14-30, 30-60, and 60-100 day ratings. The most commonly used masking tapes are the ones that can be left for 7-14 days. The longer-rated tapes are used on delicate surfaces as the adhesive is not very strong. Vinyl wallpapers and recently painted walls often use masking tapes which can be left on for more than 30 days.

Masking tape is also used on large glass panes to caution the human beings in the vicinity. Sometimes people fail to notice the glass pane and try to walk through it. That causes accidents and there are chances of the glass getting shattered and causing more damage to the people around and the structure.

What is masking tape made of?

Masking tape has two layers, and household masking tapes normally are colored tan or light yellow. Painter’s masking tapes are blue or purple in color.

There is a thin crepe paper backing that can be torn by hand without using any tools. This ensures that there are no scratch marks left by the usage of the scissors or knife while removing the tape. The layer underneath has a hot melt or acrylic-based adhesive that does not stick to the surface.

If there is any adhesive residue left after removing the masking tape, you may use the WD-40 spray to remove it. This adhesive is solvent-free and as discussed above is available in multiple levels of adhesive strength.

How to apply and remove masking tape?

Masking tapes safeguard your cabinets, cupboards, etc. while you are painting it. After you finish the job, do not remove the masking tape too soon. Allow the paint to dry completely to ensure that the wet paint does not drip and spoil the areas which you intended to mask off.

If you leave the tape for a longer duration, it might stick to the surface and the adhesive bonds will make it difficult to peel it off.

1. Wait for at least one hour after painting the wall or wooden panel. Touch the paint and see if it feels dry enough for you to remove the masking tape. Maintaining a 45-degree angle upward or downward where it is touching the paint is the ideal way to remove it.

2. Use a razor blade in case you see that the paint is pulling out with the tape. The blade will cut through the paint and remove the tape seamlessly without spoiling your hard work of painting.

3. You may choose to use a hairdryer in areas where the tape does not peel off easily. Set the dryer to low heat and hold it about 3 inches away from the tape. It will melt the adhesive bonds and allow you to remove them easily.

4. Use a scraper gently to remove any small particles of the leftover masking tape. Dip turpentine in a rag and remove the slight scraps of adhesive. Then wipe off the area with a damp microfiber cloth and you are good to go.

To understand the process better watch these videos-

Masking tape vs duct tape

Duct tape is a lot stronger than masking tape. For this reason, duct tape often leaves a residue when it is removed. This is not ideal as it can make the windows look dirty. For this reason, a special type of tape was invented that doesn’t leave marks on the areas that you want to protect.

Duct tape is mainly used to repair items. For example, if a part of a door has broken apart, people sometimes use duct tape to temporarily fix it. Duct tape is very strong and can be used in a lot of situations.

Masking tape can’t be used for this as it isn’t strong enough. It would break apart much faster than duct tape. Duct tape has stronger glue and the tape itself is stronger as well.

Duct tape tends to be more expensive than masking tape.

Masking tape is generally white whereas duct tape is often grey. Duct tape is also wider than masking tape. This makes it easy to distinguish between the two.

Be careful that you don’t pick the wrong type of tape for your application!


You must have used masking tape in your DIY projects in the past. Now after reading this article, you are aware of the various strengths it is available. So next time when you go to a hardware store to buy a roll, you can exactly ask for the one for your specific purpose.

You also know the exact process to remove the masking tape after the work is done. So take up some DIY projects this summer and involve your children in them. The present generation is glued to gadgets and they will be watching videos or playing games on their smartphones or tablets. Doing something with their own hands will help them to come out of their sedentary lifestyle and acquire a new skillset too.