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When I visited the Los Angeles home of Angelo Surmelis - popular host of HGTV's Rate My Space and now a furniture designer, I immediately wanted his striped walls in my own home.

Photo: Kathy Price-Robinson

But I knew the awful truth: Whenever I try to mask off walls to add stripes or paint trim, the paint always bleeds under the masking tape and looks awful.

However, I might had gone forward with my ambitious painting project had I known about Inspired Technologies' FrogTape, a high-tech masking tape that makes it nearly impossible to do a sloppy job. FrogTape is made with a unique polymer called PaintBlock, which creates a micro-barrier that seals the tape's edges as soon as it comes in contact with paint. When you lift off the FrogTape, the membrane breaks and you have a clean line -- no paint bleed.

Photo: FrogTape

See a video showing the technology.

So what's up with typical painter's tape? According to Frog Tape, masking tapes were developed back in the day when most interior paint was oil-based. Oil paint has a high "viscosity," which means it's thicker and doesn't spread as easily under tape. Today, most paint used in homes is water-based latex, which has a low viscosity, and seeps easily into cracks and crevices -- and underneath masking tape.

FrogTape has won so many awards that it advertises itself as "the only tape with a trophy shelf." It earned an innovation award from Popular Science magazine -- and another innovation award from Handy Magazine, which named it one of the best products for DIYers. At the 2008 National Hardware Show in Las Vegas, FrogTape won two Retailers Choice Awards.

Before considering FrogTape, note that it won't work in all applications. Extremely bumpy surfaces are notoriously difficult to tape off successfully. EVen with a high-tech tape, paint bleed is common on bumpy surfaces. For best results, press the tape as securely as possible.

Also, the surface accepting the tape must be cured thoroughly -- not just dry to the touch. The timing to cure paint depends on many factors, including air temperature and humidity. Latex paint may take up to a month to completely cure.

Finally, when using FrogTape on surfaces other than smooth latex (such as on aluminum), you should test the tape first in an inconspicuous place.

FrogTape comes in two widths -- 24mm and 33mm -- and costs about $7 to $10. It comes in a recyclable container to keep it clean and nick free. It's available through Lowe's, Ace Hardware, Amazon, and building supply retailers.

SEE ALSO:

Go For The Gloss (Paint)
Painting Stripes (A DIY Tutorial)
Tips for Spray Painting


  • Heather

    Its not that great. I used it and still had paint where I didn't want it. I had to go threw and touch up many places.

    Reply
  • ridem200

    The best and most common LOW COST solution to the paint bleed problem is to run a light bead of clear acrylic caulking with your finger along the edge of the tape. (Blue masking tape seems to work best) This approach has worked for me every time and almost always peals off when you remove the tape. It's not big deal if it doesn't as it comes off easily.
    This works well on bumpy textured surfaces too.
    Pay $10 for a roll of masking tape-what kind of a nut would do that??

    Reply
  • steve96888

    But no one says a thing about all those poor frogs they kill to make this tape!!!!

    Reply
  • Kathy Price-Robinson

    That's a good one, Steve! You gave me a laugh!


  • joe

    Kathy, you got lucky with frog tape this time; you can credit the viscosity of your paint. The fool-proof method for masking is to seal the edge of the tape with some clear painting medium such as Golden Acrylic Matte Medium http://www.dickblick.com/products/golden-polymer-and-matte-mediums/

    First apply the tape, pressing down fairly hard all the way along the edge. Keep the tape loose during application when applying it to an undulating surface. Tightness will prohibit the tape from working itself the nooks and crannies. Once the tape is firmly adhered and there are no visible air bubbles on the painted edge, it is time to seal the edge with the clear drying matte medium (gloss medium for glossy paint). The reason the clear medium is used is that if there are any microscopic air bubbles between the tape and the wall, it will be filled in with the clear medium, which will not be visible once the paint is dried. You should work the medium into the edge of the tape, brushing it in perpendicular to the edge of the tape, then brushing along the grain of the tape to wipe off the excess. Allow it to dry then its time to paint!
    Now for the kind of tape to use, frog tape or blue painters tape from 3M - no difference in my experience, they look and feel the same, and they have the same tack. The most versatile, flexible, low tack tape (won't peel off fresh paint) is 3M 2080 Delicate surfaces tape.
    http://www.amazon.com/3M-Scotch-Blue-Painters-Delicate-Surfaces/dp/B000BPPIL0
    This tape has the the feel of tissue paper, it doesn't feel stiff like masking tape. This tape will conform to the subtle nuances of the wall unlike stiff masking tape.
    Remember to let the clear medium dry before painting the color coat. Pull off the masking tape before the color coat is completely dry to prevent a film from drying over the tape, this can cause the tape to peel the paint off with wall.
    This is the tried and true method of a fine artist of 15 years and former university art professor. Don't buy into the idea that you need to buy the right product, you need to have the right process.

    Reply
  • FrogTape

    Greetings from ShurTech Brands LLC, the marketers of FrogTape! After reading some of your comments, we would like to sincerely apologize to anyone who had a less than perfect experience with FrogTape, and would like you to know that we are committed to continuously improving our products to ensure FrogTape exceeds your expectations every time. We would be very interested in learning more about the details of your specific painting project in order for us to develop technical enhancements to the product. Please feel free to contact us at 1-877-FROGTAPE or askus@shurtech.com to speak with a customer service representative or you may also ask to speak directly with me, Laetitia Kasl, product manager for FrogTape. We thank you for your support and encourage all readers of DIY Life to contact us with questions or comments!

    Reply
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