Masking tape is a removable adhesive tape used to provide temporary protection to an area while an adjacent area is being worked on. Originally designed to mask one part of an automobile’s two-tone paint job while the other part was being completed, this tape has found many other uses since. Besides masking, it can be used to seal packages, splice poster board or other material, hold a drop cloth in place, bundle items together, and label material, among other uses.
In the basic product, adhesive is supplied on a crepe backing to create an easily torn manila-colored tape. Basic products come in widths of 0.5 inch (1.27 cm), 0.75 inch (1.9 cm), 1 inch (2.54 cm), 1.5 inch (3.81 cm), 2 inches (5.08 cm), and 3 inches (7.62 cm). Masking tape is sold both in individual rolls and in packs of several rolls, and the cardboard core has a characteristically large diameter, making it possible to carry or wear the tape like a bracelet. Black colored tape is also available.
Recommendations for removing masking tape cleanly include pulling it at a moderate pace and at a 90-degree angle, working at a time when the surface is neither too hot nor too cold because either temperature extreme can cause problems. If it is too hot, some adhesive residue may be left; if too cold, the tape may tear easily. While standard products are good at a maximum temperature of around 150°F (66°C) for about an hour, high temperature tape handles heats of up to 350°F (177°C) for an hour. It is important for users to choose a tape designed for the ambient temperature as well as the particular material being masked in order to avoid any sort of damage.
A special type called painter’s tape is formulated to be cleanly removable after long periods of time, with some brands claiming to release well up to 60 days after application. Some painter’s tapes are labeled with phrases such as “clean removal” or “safe release,” and shippers can often pick them out by their color, which is usually blue or green. Another specially formulated version is made with particularly strong adhesion properties to allow it to stick to surfaces that resist tape.
Masking tape is also available in a range of colors, which can be used for color-coding shipments and inventory, decorating, marking floors, making signs, mapping, and art projects.