Tape Tips

9. Let it be your guide
Pros use miles of low-tack blue painter's tape—mainly to protect surfaces, but also as a guide for cutting in walls or ceilings. "With older houses, flat surfaces can be so uneven you can't be sure you are getting a crisp line if you paint over tape," says Hone. "So just use it as a guide." Cut in up to the edge of the tape, but don't cross over it. Bring your fully loaded brush within about 2 1/4 inches of the tape, but go very light on that last 1/4 inch closest to the tape. "When you do that, you have a fighting chance that the paint won't wick under the tape's edge," says Hone.

10. The perfect stripe
Like the look of painted stripes? To put on a crisp band of color without any bleed, first lay down a line of blue painter's tape, then run a small bead of latex caulk over the edge where the two colors will meet. "Wipe down the caulk until you have a very thin layer on the wall," says Portland, Oregon, painting contractor Dave Siegner. "Then peel off the tape, and paint up to the line of caulk." The thin bead will seal off the dry surface better than any tape. A few hours later, peel off the caulk.

11. Score it
If you've masked off baseboards with painter's tape, pull it off the same day as you apply the paint—but run a blade along it first, says Siegner. "Sometimes latex wall finishes are rubbery until they cure completely, and if they're touching your tape you can pull away a piece of the paint from the wall when you go to remove it," says Siegner. Score the edge of the tape between the top of the baseboard and the wall with a putty knife held at a 45-degree angle.
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