Tested! The Simple Trick To Stop Paint From Bleeding Under Tape

You spend an hour applying painters tape so you’ll have clean lines, right? But then when you pull it off the wall, the paint has bleed.

Luckily, there’s an easy way to stop paint from bleeding under tape!

To stop paint from bleeding under tape, apply a clear layer of mod podge or water-based polyurethane on the seam of the tape before applying the paint.

But there are a few more tricks that can help too, so keep reading!

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Why Paint Bleed is Inevitable

Fun fact: When I’m painting walls, I usually skip the painters tape altogether, and just paint carefully around the edges.

This is because modern walls are usually textured. This means there are all these little bumps and crevices. If the tape doesn’t dip perfectly into all those spaces, there will be bleed.

Without the clearcoat tip I’ve mentioned above, this is bound to happen.

And so with walls, in order to get a perfectly crisp edge using painters tape, you have to spend an hour applying the tape, another 20 minutes making sure it’s as sealed as possible, and then another 10 minutes applying a clear coat.

Hence, why I usually skip the tape.

But when I’m doing designs on furniture, painters tape is essential, especially with the following tricks to eliminate the bleed.

Trick 1: Clean Before Taping

Any little crumb will slightly lift the tape, breaking the seal, and allowing paint to seep underneath.

That’s when it’s really important to tape the paint to a clean surface.

If I’m working with wood, I’ll use mineral spirits to wipe down the piece. For a wall or something less finicky, water is fine!

Trick 2: Seal the Edges With a Painter’s Tool

See this thing. It’s called a Painter’s Tool.

Painter's tool

It does a whole bunch of things, like spread spackle and open paint cans, but I think it’s most useful feature is that curvy bit that squeezes out paint rollers.

Painter's tool squeezing paint roller

Relevant to this article, however, is it’s ability to seal painter’s tape, given you’re painting on a flat surface (not a textured wall.)

Run that smooth blade down the edge of the painter’s tape to press and seal the edges of the tape and help prevent paint bleed.

I think the painter’s tool is cool, but if you don’t have one, a putty knife works for this too!

Trick 3: Apply a Layer of Clear Topcoat Before Painting

After getting down the painter’s tape, seal the edges of the paint by applying a clearcoat layer.

Apply mod podge to tape

I usually use mod podge, but if you don’t have that sitting around, water-based polyurethane works too.

Just make sure you’re using something that’s clear. I’d shy away from oil-based poly, because although it should be fine, I’d rather not risk it.

Once your clearcoat has dried, paint as normal.

Also, there are a lot of tips in this article, but if you only do one, do this one. The other ones are really just here if you don’t have a clearcoat around.

This tip alone will solve all of your paint bleed problems!

Trick 4: Remove the Tape One Hour After Paint Application

Paint takes awhile to dry, but if you leave the tape on as long as the paint takes to dry (a couple hours, or worse, a few days), when you go to remove the tape, it’s likely that some of the dried paint will come with it.

Not ideal.

Instead, if you remove the tape an hour after painting, instead of ripping extra paint off, the painters tape will break the paint upon removal.

You’ll get the clear line you were aiming for.

Trick 4.5: Use Painter’s Tape?

People swear that painter’s tape does a better job peeling off the wall and blocking paint from bleeding under than masking tape.

I but I tested both in this Youtube video.

And yes, on its own, painter’s tape does a better job stopping paint bleed than masking tape. But if you do the clearcoat with both the masking tape and the painter’s tape, both tapes do a great job stopping paint bleed:

Painters tape, masking tape compared.

So whether you spend the money on painter’s tape or go with masking tape, if you’re doing the clearcoat tip, you should be fine.

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