3M masking tape next to a can of paint with a paint roller placed on top of the lid

Painting preparation

Learn the basics of good masking in a few easy steps and you'll become an expert in no time.


Mask like a Pro - Step by step instructions

Good masking is the key to sharp, professional paint lines and an overall neat, finished look. It can also save you time because you won’t need to redo once your project is complete. Follow the steps below to make your project look like it was done by a professional.

  • Scotch® Masking Tape shown in packaging and outside packaging
    Step 1: Choose the right tape

    Choose the right tape for the right job: whether you are decorating indoors or outdoors - we can help guide you (PDF, 1.3 MB) with the correct masking tape choice.

  •  Image showing cloth, spatula and 3M masking tape
    Step 2: Recommended equipment

    Here is a list of our recommended tools to get you started:

  • Hands on a cloth cleaning the surface to ensure the 3M masking tape sticks properly
    Step 3: Clean surface

    The surface might be dirty or greasy so clean the surface and ensure that it is dry and dust-free so the tape sticks properly.

  • Hands showing how to apply 3M masking tape on to a surface
    Step 4: Apply tape

    Lay tape onto the surface, pressing down as you go. Don’t stretch the tape, or it may lift or break.

  • Hands using a spatula or putty knife to demonstrate how to press firmly down on the tape
    Step 5: Secure tape
    Press tape down firmly with a smooth edge, like a putty knife, credit card, or rub firmly with your thumb to make sure the tape is sealed to the surface. This will help you avoid any paint bleeding under the tape.
  • Image showing 3M masking tape is now firmly set before painting starts.
    Step 6: Let tape set

    Wait about 30 to 60 minutes before you begin painting.

Scotch® Masking Tapes and how you compare best tape for your project

Find the right Scotch® Masking Tape for your project

Compare all Scotch® Masking Tapes in one chart, to find the best tape for your project.


Read our other How To Tape Tips

Take a look at some of our other handy guides for using masking tape to help you paint areas such as doors and floors, and create the perfect finish.

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