Application of a masking film to a car

3M Masking for Car Repair


Car masking systems can be easily applied with 3M technology

3M Masking systems can be used in all coating and repair processes, ranging from standard masking tape to special applications. Worldwide, 3M is one of the largest and most experienced manufacturers of adhesive tapes. For car refinish tasks, masking tapes play an important role in all core processes. Intensive research and development work within 3M constantly tests and improves our products to make customer processes more secure.

Innovative examples include 3M™ Soft Edge Foam Masking Tape Plus and Scotch® Transition Tape. The novel design of these two products allows significantly softer paint edges and transitions, greatly reducing rework. These are just two of many products from 3M that actually improve the body shop work process.

  • Application of a protective coating using 3M Accuspray

    General vehicle masking

    • Prior to any car repair or painting, parts of the car which are not to be worked on need to be protected from unwanted damage, soiling or paint overspray. Working thoroughly from the very beginning reduces or even eliminates any clean-up or rectification afterwards.
      Time consuming masking activities can be minimised by using high quality material and good application techniques. It's always worth investing in premium masking tapes, which can be effortlessly removed without slithering, slicing or leaving adhesive residue.

      Click the play button in the image to watch the video.

      Download 3M Masking Solutions Products Brochure (PDF, 409KB)

      Download 3M Masking Standard Operating Procedure (PDF, 477KB)

      In general, the following materials should be used and ready at hand:

      • Interior protection covers for seat and foot area
      • Masking tapes
      • Masking film
      • Masking paper
      • Special masking tapes such as Soft Edge Foam Masking Tape Plus for apertures or fine line tapes for sharp, clear lines

A safe car masking process ensures high-quality results

Applying paper and tape to a vehicle to protect it from overspray may seem basic, but a poor masking job can adversely affect the quality of the paint job and increase the need for rework.

  • Specialty Solutions

    Specialty Solutions

    Our Specialty Solutions are engineered specifically to soften or virtually eliminate hard paint lines at automotive jambs, bonnets, boot lines and other areas where paint must blend seamlessly.

    3M uses soft foams, precision-engineered adhesives and more to allow paint to feather for virtually invisible paint lines.

    Choosing and properly using the right masking products can go a long way towards eliminating issues related to quality and efficiency in the paint shop. Click the links below to learn more.

    Download 3M Masking Standard Operating Procedure (PDF, 477KB)

Masking Products

Discover our range of masking products to help achieve high quality, efficient repairs in your bodyshop.

How to mask car parts for a repair

A step-by-step car masking process guide for repair jobs

  • Cleaning the surface or and around a repair area with a wipe

    Step 1 - Cleaning the surface

    • Degrease the surface of and around the repair area - follow the recommendations of your paint manufacturer. Well suited for this step are 3M™ Panel Wipes 34567.

      Recommended products:

      3M™ Professional Panel Wipes

  • Covering a car using a masking film

    Step 2 - Apply masking film

  • Applying foam masking tape to a car body line

    Step 3 - Prepare the repair area surroundings

  • Cutting the masking film around a repair area

    Step 4 - Cut and fix the film

  • Car part covered with masking films cutted and attached ready for painting

    Step 5 - Attach film to contours before base / clear coat

    • Before applying the base and clear coat, cut the masking film and attach it to the contour and aperture masking.


  • Removing masking tapes and films

    Step 6 - Aftermath - correct demasking

    Correct removal of the masking tapes and film are best done when the car has just left the oven and is still warm.
    Always remove masking tape by pulling in a right angle to the surface. A flatter or sharper angle has a higher risk of leaving adhesive residue on the surface. Using premium masking tapes will pay-off as they have a lower tendency to leave adhesive or slice - saving you valuable work time!

Video - see how to mask car parts for a repair

3M masking solutions are excellent for even the most tricky to mask areas. Protect from overspray and achieve precision in bodyshop repair needs.
3M's innovative products provide you with more than "just another tape" - we offer masking solutions that simplify the whole paint process.

Technical tips for the car masking process

Here are some valuable insights into specific challenges surrounding masking systems used in all coating and repair processes, ranging from standard masking tape to special applications. For more in-depth information, click the link below to see each tip.

  • Customer Challenge:
    Choosing and properly using the right masking tape for eliminating issues related to quality and efficiency in the paint shop.

    Technical Tip:
    Look for 3M™ Premium Masking Tapes with release coatings and a primer layer that will anchor the adhesive to the backing. Similarly, masking tapes are available with different adhesives formulated for clean removal from different automotive substrates including rubber or glass, without leaving adhesive residue. Humidity is also a particular problem, as it can cause condensation on the panel surface. Many masking tape adhesives do not perform well when faced with high water penetration.

  • Customer Challenge:
    Reusable, untreated plastic and paper sheeting does not prevent dried paint from flaking off and contaminating the fresh paint job upon removal.

    Technical Tip:
    Instead of a combination of plastic and paper, we recommend the use of 3M™ Premium Masking Films as they easily pay for themselves in shorter masking time and reduced rework. Our film surface is speciallly treated, which helps paint adhere to it and prevents flaking. You can also tape directly to the plastic sheeting instead of using it in conjunction with masking paper.

  • Customer Challenge:
    Edge “elopement” is a physical effect that occurs when coating surfaces. This causes the coating on edges to be thinner than on flat surfaces, which often leads to massive rework due to sanding or polishing through the edges.

    Technical Tip:
    3M™ Soft Edge Foam Masking Tape PLUS and 3M™ Smooth Transition Tape are specifically engineered to soften or virtually eliminate hard paint lines on automotive jambs,bonnets, boot lines and other areas where paint must blend seamlessly. 3M uses soft foams, precision-engineered adhesives and more to allow paint to feather for virtually invisible paint lines.

  • Customer Challenge:
    Masking tapes can deteriorate in quality over time if not handled properly.

    Technical Tip:
    Store your masking products right to protect their balanced properties and adhesion - at 20 °C, 50 %rh in a clean, dry space without direct sun light is ideal.

    Best practice for attaching masking tapes:

    Avoid stretching the tape, particularly when applying it in cavities or dips.
    Firm press the edge of the tape to assure correct adhesion and prevent unclean edges.

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