Ask the Expert: Do Pros Use Tape?

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Question: I often hear: “A professional doesn’t use painter’s tape.” But obviously some do. When and why might a pro painter use tape?

Answer, courtesy of Joseph Shriver, Steward, Shriver Fine Finishes: To be honest, I think it’s a comment that is rooted in pride for those who don’t use it. It’s a very old school type of thinking to disregard the importance of painter’s tape. As a professional painter I use a ton of modern equipment and sundries to give my clients the best possible product I can possibly do for them with the tools and materials available to me. I can hand-paint extremely crisp lines where the wall meets the ceiling and where the door or window casing meets the wall, but where the wall meets the top edge of the baseboard is where we see the most crucial surface that need to be masked with painter’s tape. 

The old school philosophy is a hustle and bustle one that tries to pinch pennies and teach the younger generation to hone their own brushwork skills. All of that is honorable but it will never produce the same precision that a properly masked surface will produce. Consider the cost of a roll of premium tape in comparison to the cost of cleaning off speckles from the roller or fixing crooked lines—or the sheer fact that free-handing actually takes more time when you compare it to masking and 2-coating. 

For me it’s a no-brainer. I want my clients to know that we are different. I want them to be sitting at dinner that night and looking at the precision that a professional painter can produce compared to the sloppiness of the weekend warrior. They should look at our work and marvel at how perfect it is. [Painter’s] tape can make anyone into a pro with the right application. 

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tape, surface prep, jobsite prep, brush skills

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