How to paint without using painter’s tape

So, you’ve got a wall to paint. Would you like to know how save a whole bunch of money and time painting that wall? If you are going to all the bother of painting a wall yourself instead of hiring it out, I bet its a topic you’d find interesting. One simple step can save you money and time, maybe even millions if you paint walls as much as I do! (exaggerating slightly) Get rid of the painters tape! You don’t need it, you really don’t!

You don’t have to be neat, or artistically inclined to paint without tape. I can make a monstrous mess out of just about any task known to man, and I can’t draw a stick figure to save my life, much less paint one! I was scared to try it myself, but necessity is the mother of all adventurous efforts…or something like that. See, I’ve got some crazy walls in this old house of mine.

how to paint without tape

They take one day to clean and prime, a second day for a second coat of primer, and a third (possibly a fourth) for two coats of paint.  No matter how small the wall may be, three days is the shortest time frame for finishing. There’s no shortcuts I can take, they ooze sap (or something), and are covered in lacquer (weird stuff), and that’s the way they’ve got to be tackled with just no way around it. I started painting at the entry, and I used tape. And it took. me. forever. to get it done. Not to mention, I left the tape on through all the coats so it ripped off paint when I took the tape off! Not funny! There was no way on this pretty earth I was going to re-tape between every blessed coat of paint/primer through this entire house! Do you know how long that would take? Not happening! (Did I mention I have a two year old and a four year old? Painting time is rare and precious!) My paint also leaked under the tape at some spots, so my entry currently has the messiest paint job of the whole house. Splendid.

how to paint without tape

There you see? That’s why I had no choice but to learn how to paint without tape. And I want you to learn too, because you will feel so liberated and wonderful. Start with a brush that has nice crisp edges and a slant.

paint without tape

Now, you want to get a nice fat roll of paint just on the very tip of one side of the brush. You want a lot of paint, but only on a little spot.

paint without tape

Then you want to just plop that paint in one spot close the edge of where you are cutting in.

paint without tape

Now you just press your brush flat into the paint, so the bristles splay out a little, and drag the paint right up to the edge like so. I couldn’t get a clear shot while I was doing it, but you can get the idea from looking at the paint lines.

paint without tape

If you’ve got a tiny edge, you do the same thing. Try to look at what your painting from the side, you’ll be able to see exactly where the bristles are touching. You’ll have more control over the brush and paint if you press nice and firmly as you drag the brush. See how I’m pressing the brush as flat as possible?

paint without tape

Your brush shouldn’t actually touch the edge, just the roll of paint that you are pushing along. Try to remember what you learned about surface tension back in high school science class, it’s the same concept. If you’ve got enough paint, but not too much, on the brush it will roll right up the edge without going farther. When I was first practicing this, I used a paint shield to help me get the hang of it. I also use this thing on windows or doors where the trim is super thin.

paint without tape

You just hold it against the trim, and move it along with the paint brush as you paint.

paint without tape

Quick tip, if you cover the edge of that little shield with tin foil, you won’t have to clean it up every time your are done! Just throw out the foil! Isn’t that just the niftiest little trick you’ve ever heard! ( I actually saw it on Pinterest) Once the magic has been learned, you’ll have the nicest, prettiest paint lines you could ever wish for…minus the $9.95 roll of tape!

how to paint without tape

I can’t pretend ever single spot I free handed is without error, but it’s a sight better than than what I managed with the tape! I always keep a wet rag handy. If my hand slips, and I get some paint on the ceiling, well, oh well. Wipe it off and keep painting! On a room like this one, with enough trim to test the patience of Job, tape-free painting quite literally saved me hours and hours of work! (You can read about this room HERE.)

how to paint without tape

I hope you’ll give it a try! If you know of any other tips to add to this, feel free to add on in the comments!

Colossians 1:16   For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:

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12 Responses to How to paint without using painter’s tape

  1. Patti says:

    I paint all the time and can attest to the wisdom of painting without tape. Tape has to be very secure in order not to allow bleeding through. Also, a little known fact: if you’re using latex paint it forms a skin along the tape line, so that when you pull the tape off, you can also pull the paint along that line off, too.

    It’s worth your time to learn how to cut in without tape. Great tutorial.

  2. Mary says:

    I just did the same thing on my front door. Started to tape and realized it would be an all day affair! So a steady hand and a little patience and it didnt turn out so bad!

  3. M. says:

    I abhor taping! I have been using this Shur-Line edge trimmer (I think that’s the name??) that I love for cutting the edges, but you have to buy the refills every time… because I haven’t learned how to properly wash out the refill to reuse. :-/ Thanks for this tutorial! I thought I was the only one free handing it. ~M.

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  5. mary green says:

    I found a brush called a wonderbrush at my local hardware store…a little pricey but so worth it!!! It is rounded and therefore allows the paint to roll off it as you pull it along your paintline in a slow twisting motion.

    I’ve got it in two sizes and it is “hands off” to my family…
    no taping, etc. and it is easy to maneuver in the strange angles of my old Victorian.

    I continue to tape, however, for graphic design…

    • Abby says:

      Thank you for sharing that, Mary! I’ve not seen that particular brush, but I’m interested in checking it out. It sounds like it could be very useful! Thank you so much for taking the time to comment!

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