I've been doing some decorating and had need of some low-tack masking tape. I've tried five different (named) types because it's hard to know when you're looking at a packet or Internet page what you're going to get. Here are the results...
The tapes I've tested are:
- 3M Scotch-Blue painters tape for multi surfaces #2090
- FrogTape Delicate Surface Painters Tape
- Tesa Wallpaper Tape 7006
- Cleenedge Low Tack Masking Tape
- Tesa Precision Mask Sensitive 4333
I should make it clear that I have no affiliation with any of the manufacturers or retailers. I'd like to think I'm a reasonably accomplished DIYer, I'm not a professional. I'm also not doing anything scientific here, there are no lab tests - it's all been done in my lounge and kitchen and is mostly just my opinion. My lounge has recently been replasted and painted white by the contractor. The paint hasn't adhered to the plaster especially well in the corners and so is susceptible to coming off when tape is applied to it.
3M Scotch-Blue #2030
Appearance: Sort of fabric-like feel but papery to use
Stickiness (tack): Pretty strong (not "low tack")
Takes paint off when removed: Yes
Paint 'bleeds' under it: Yes
General: A good basic tape for general use, but not suitable for delicate surface work. Actually won't take off paint terribly badly, but takes off more than you'd want in delicate surface tasks.
FrogTape Delicate Surface
Appearance: Yellow, smooth papery tape
Stickiness (tack): Pretty strong (not "low tack" despite the name)
Takes paint off when removed: Yes
Paint 'bleeds' under it: No
General: Apart from avoiding paint bleed, this tape doesn't do much to set it apart from other (ordinary, cheaper) tapes. I ended up using it to stick to plastic window and door frames. It did a good job there with sharp lines and no residue on removal (after about a week). But of all the tapes I actually tried on paint, this one took off by far the most of it - definitely not good given the claims on the packaging.
Tesa Wallpaper Tape 7006
Appearance: Yellowy papery tape
Stickiness (tack): Very low (sort of like a post-it note)
Takes paint off when removed: Very occasionally when stuck down hard
Paint 'bleeds' under it: A little
General: This is a great low-tack tape. It practically falls off the roll, and doesn't accidentally stick to surfaces very easily. I found it almost never took any paint off when used after sticking it to my teeshirt first. I didn't leave any of this up longer than a couple of hours, but it all came off easily with no residue.
Cleenedge Low Tack Masking Tape
Appearance: White smooth paper tape
Stickiness (tack): Very strong (feels more sticky than Scotch-Blue)
Takes paint off when removed: Didn't try, but I'd guess yes
Paint 'bleeds' under it: Didn't try
General: Seems to have smooth, sharp edges, but not at all "low tack" and as far as I can tell easily surpassed by many other, more easily available and cheaper tapes. Might find some use in precision work where the high stickiness is not a problem.
Tesa Precision Mask Sensitive 4333
Appearance: Pink, smooth plasticy feeling tape
Stickiness (tack): Low-medium
Takes paint off when removed: Occasionally
Paint 'bleeds' under it: I didn't see any, but didn't use much of it
General: A high quality tape, which I could imagine being great for masking off intricate shapes. I used a fair bit of this on the walls, but it took too much paint off to keep using it. For slightly less delicate use I can see it being good to use though.
Lots of tapes claim to be 'low tack' but really aren't. FrogTape is apparently doing lots of marketing, but the altogether more humble Tesa 7006 is actually a better choice for delicate surface work. I've bought a load more of it to do some other jobs around the house, and will probably use it for most of my masking needs from now on.