While choosing the right painter’s tape may not seem like a major decision, we’d argue it’s as important as your paint color choice. Painter’s tape itself isn’t a huge investment—you can buy a solid roll of tape for around $3. Your biggest investments are the hard work and time spent, which can be ruined if the painter’s tape you use allows the paint to bleed through or damages your surface with sticky residue.
To help you make the right choice, we spent weeks testing nearly a dozen painter’s tapes, judging their adhesive properties, ability to create a clean paint line, smudge- and scuff-proof texture, and more. And no, none of these tapes were masking tapes—keep reading to find out why.
Above all tapes tested, the bright green FrogTape Multi-Surface Painter’s Tape(available at Amazon for $5.47) stands out as the best overall for its ease of use, durable yet gentle adhesive, and extremely clean paint lines against both drywall and crown molding. While the FrogTape Multi-Surface performed the very best, there are still many we recommend for painting and beyond.
The Duck Professional Painter’s Tape (available at Amazon) ranks as our best value tape for providing an easy-to-use paint experience at an affordable price. And for a tape option that functions well beyond its paint realm, the 3M ScotchBlue Original Multi-Surface (available at Amazon) proved to be ultra-adhesive for uses like mapping out flooring or labeling objects during a renovation.
Here are the best Painter's Tapes we tested, ranked in order:
FrogTape Multi-Surface Painter’s Tape
FrogTape Pro Grade Painter’s Tape
Duck Professional Painter’s Tape
Duck Clean Release Painter’s Tape
Bates Choice Painter's Tape
3M No Residue Duct Tape
3M ScotchBlue Original Multi-Surface Tape
3M Scotch Delicate Surface
3M ScotchBlue Sharp Lines Multi-Surface
Pro Tapes Scenic 728 Painter’s Tape
Tesa Universal Painter’s Tape
Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewed’s editors. Purchases you make through our links may earn us a commission.
FrogTape Multi-Surface Painter's Tape
Duck Professional Painter's Tape
3M ScotchBlue Original Multi-Surface Painter’s Tape
When you think of painter’s tape, its classic blue color may come to mind, but our favorite tape in this near-dozen list breaks the mold with its bright green hue.
As soon as I started using this tape, I could tell it was going to be one of the top contenders.
The FrogTape Multi-Surface has a lot less give than other tapes, requiring a harder tug to pull off the roll. However, once you measure out your piece, it’s easy to tear with a nice edge.
The tape applies to drywall and crown molding like a dream and easily smoothes onto surfaces. When I began painting the tape on the drywall surface, I noticed just how flush it was with the wall, forming an even layer that was easy to paint over with a brush.
After allowing the paint to dry on both the drywall and the crown molding, the FrogTape hadn’t budged one bit. It also had the cleanest paint lines in our painting tests and was one of the strongest adhesive tapes that didn’t damage our surfaces.
Overall, I would recommend this particular FrogTape product for anyone starting an interior painting project. With such a durable material and stunningly clean lines, this green tape is a go-to.
While you may not be pinching pennies when it comes to painter’s tape, if you are looking for a more affordable choice, we’d recommend Duck Professional Painter’s Tape. At an easy $2.25, you really can’t beat the price for a pretty solid choice that gets the job done.
Although ripping the tape off the roll produced some uneven tears, the tape itself was easy to paint on and around. One downside of this tape is its overall adhesive abilities. While the tape held up to scuffing, it didn’t pass other adhesive tests—most notably, it curled up at the edges.
Still, the Duck Professional Painter’s Tape is a great choice, especially at the lowest price point of our tapes.
3M ScotchBlue Original Multi-Surface Painter’s Tape
The 3M ScotchBlue Original Multi-Surface lacked in providing super clean lines, but it scored tremendously well when it came to adhesion. That’s why we think this tape is a great choice for general painting, labeling, marking, and more.
When faced with two days of shoe-scuffing, 3M ScotchBlue Original Multi-Surface held up strongly. As far as painting goes, the tape had some minor bleeding on drywall and crown molding surfaces.
Overall, depending on how much detail your project requires, this could be a decent choice for a less-precise painting job.
While painter’s tape may be the least expensive purchase in your painting project, it plays an important role in protecting what is the most valuable—your home’s interior and the expensive paint you’re applying. For over a week, I tested upwards of a dozen different painter’s tapes in great detail through several comprehensive tests.
I first tested the ease of tearing the tape off the roll. In real-life scenarios, you’ll need to grab the tape, tear away a piece, and apply within a matter of seconds, so the efficiency of tearing off even pieces is a key factor.
To test the tape’s durability, I applied and removed tape pieces 10 times over on drywall and carpet surfaces, seeing how the adhesive held up after all that wear and tear. I also applied tape pieces on a common walking path of hardwood floors in my home, allowing three people in my household to walk over it with both bare feet and shoes for two days. Lastly, I tested the tape’s ability to absorb permanent marker writing and if it smudged or bled through at all.
What You Should Know About Buying Painter's Tape
A good or bad painter’s tape can be the difference between a clean paint line and a splotchy job. This being said, the tapes we tested performed within a small margin of each other, meaning the perceived differences aren’t dramatic—the tapes all scored within about 10 percentage points.
What Type of Tape to Use When Painting?
Before deciding on the painter’s tape, it’s important to understand what you need the painter’s tape for. Not all painter’s tapes are made the same—some will have a very adhesive material, while others may have a more gentle adhesion to ensure the surface won’t be ruined by tacky residue.
For example: If you’re painting on wood or glass, you’ll want a delicate tape that won’t ruin your surfaces. If you’re painting the exterior of your home, you’ll need tape with a strong adhesive.
How Wide Should Your Painter’s Tape Be?
We tested tapes that varied in width from .75 to 1.88 inches. Size didn’t play a part in our testing, but you may want a wider tape to account for your specific painting needs.
For example: If you need to paint in hard-to-reach spots or just want to give yourself some wiggle room in case paint splatters, an extra-wide tape is your best option.
Painter’s Tape vs. Masking Tape
Painter’s tape and masking tape are often used as interchangeable items. To set the record straight, they really aren’t. While they look and feel the same with the crepe paper backing, they are each best used for their intended purposes.
Painter’s tape is made specifically for paint jobs, to provide clean paint lines and leave no residue.
Masking tape provides the same adhesion as painter’s tape, but won’t guarantee you a clean paint line or residue-free surface after peeling. Some better uses of masking tape include labeling or mapping measurements out during a home renovation.
Other Painters Tape We Tested
FrogTape Pro Grade Painter’s Tape
Runner up to our best overall tape, the FrogTape Pro Grade comes in a classic shade of blue. This tape scored the very best in providing extremely clean lines, avoiding sticky residue, and peeling with no hassle.
The main downfalls for this tape are its semi-finicky tearing process and its easily-smeared surface. When ripping tape off the roll, the tape would come out uneven at times.
Without these weaknesses, this tape would have stood on top of all other tapes. So, it’s still one of the top choices that we recommend for a paint job.
The Duck Clean Release Painter’s Tape is a solid choice. The tape itself is a thick, crepe paper material and is fairly easy to measure and tear off.
We weren’t impressed with the paint lines after peeling away the tape. The drywall had obvious paint bleeding and the crown molding had some minor bleed marks.
In addition, the adhesion quality was inconsistent. It wasn’t strong enough to stick on carpet or drywall after a few applications and removals, and it didn’t hold up to the shoe-scuffing. However, on the plus side, there weren't any issues with residue or peeling up any surface material.
Overall, this is a decent choice that performed at an average level. For precise paint jobs, look elsewhere.
With a solid 4.5-star rating on Amazon, Bates Choice is a no-frills blue tape option. Based on its performance in our tests, we actually prefer this particular tape over some from 3M. However, we wouldn’t reach for this tape during a paint project, especially one where we want precise, clean lines.
The tape was easy to measure and tear off, most likely because the crepe paper material felt thinner in comparison to other tapes we tested. The painting process itself wasn’t too memorable, which we like to think isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
At the end of the day, however, the negative features outweighed the neutral ones. One of the most important factors is the ability to create clean paint lines, and this tape fell flat. It also didn’t perform well in a few of the adhesive tests, which makes me doubt the overall adhesion abilities.
As the only duct painter’s tape out of this selection, we were curious to see how it would perform when stacked up against conventional painter’s tapes. 3M claims to use premium strength duct tape that won’t leave a messy residue.
This tape looks and acts exactly like duct tape—when you pull from the roll, you need to give it a hefty yank for it to come off. The tape left a clean paint line on the drywall, but it didn’t fare as well on the crown molding, leaving a decent amount of paint bleed marks.
The tape, unfortunately, did leave residue on the drywall test, although it didn’t leave any on the crown molding. Because of these mixed results, we’re not too confident in this tape’s ability to create a consistently clean result in a painting project.
Because of the duct tape material, the adhesion quality is what really stands out. If you need an extra-strength painter’s tape that will survive the toughest conditions, this may be a decent option.
3M Scotch Delicate Surface Painter’s Tape is made for use on surfaces like freshly painted walls, wood floors, wallpaper, cabinets, and more.
Instead of using a classic crepe paper backing on the tape, the 3M Scotch Delicate Surface tape uses a thinner, smoother surface, which made it easy to fill in small tape crevices while painting during our tests. However, when it came time to peel the tape and reveal the lines, there was a decent level of paint bleeding in both the drywall and crown molding tests.
This particular tape was among the most disappointing when it came to longevity and durability. 3M Scotch describes it as a “medium adhesive” tape, but we found it was less than useful, not sticking after applying and removing the tape from drywall a few times.
We want to love 3M ScotchBlue Sharp Lines Multi-Surface. It completely lived up to its name, creating strikingly clean paint lines with little to no bleeding at all on both the drywall and crown molding test.
However, the paper-thin tape was too delicate when tested for tearing and peeling. The first time tearing from the roll was an unpleasant experience, ripping as I continued trying to take it off.
Additionally, while performing OK in some adhesion tests, the tape lost all adhesive ability when introduced to carpet.
For these reasons, it’s tough to justify the ultra-clean lines for the frustrating application and removal process, as well as the below-average adhesion, especially when several other products do both well.
The bright purple Pro Tapes Pro 728 was a fun change of pace from the sea of blue tapes. This thin and narrow tape started strong, producing stunningly clean lines on the drywall test. It was easy to apply and remove and left absolutely no residue.
However, when painted against the crown molding, it bled severely, leaving a less-than-acceptable paint job. When tested for adhesion, it failed on many accounts by not initially sticking to the carpet and curling up after a few applications and removals.
Overall, this tape is not reliable—it performed well sometimes, but other times it fell flat. And, at the highest price point out of all the tapes we tested, it makes it hard to recommend it for a paint project.
German-based brand Tesa is an adhesive solutions company that’s popular in the European market (note: the reviews on Amazon are written predominantly in German), but available to buy in the U.S. Tesa’s Universal Painter’s Tape is solvent-free and made of up to 55% bio-based materials, making it a potentially more sustainable choice over other painter’s tapes.
Despite a 4.7-star rating on Amazon, we don't understand the hype behind this painter’s tape. While the paint itself was easy to measure out and apply, it was extremely flimsy and began to curl up the moment you pulled it off the roll. The adhesive quality wasn’t too bad, but it was inconsistent like many other tapes.
Overall, for a steep price point at about $13—perhaps because it’s not a U.S.-based brand—the tape simply isn’t worth the cost.
Felicity is a writer based in Boston, covering all things home at Reviewed. She attended Florida State University, where she double received her Bachelor's degree in Editing, Writing, and Media and Media/Communications Studies. In her spare time, Felicity enjoys thrift shopping and searching for the best iced coffee wherever she goes.
We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.