Interior Paint Masking

Whether you are painting a room or just one wall, some paint masking is in order. You should cover anything you wish to keep clean within a room, if there is a chance of paint, sanding dust, or any other paint related substance finding its way to it. It is a good idea to complete all the masking before beginning the painting prep and paint application.

Tools for Painting - Masking

There are only a few paint masking tools to add to the tool box.

Painters drop cloths are the single most important item to have on hand for a paint masking job. Almost every painting task in a home that is not under construction requires covering some portion of a floor. Painters drop cloths are available in a variety of sizes and grades to accommodate most painting projects.

The hand masker is an indispensable tool for paint masking. This tool combines masking tape with masking paper or folded masking film to form the fundamental masking material. Trying to apply masking tape to masking paper or masking film without a hand masker is awkward and very time consuming.

Painting Supplies

Paint masking supplies principally consist of masking tape, masking paper, red rosin paper, masking film, and plastic sheeting in a variety grades and sizes.

Red Rosin Paper is a great alternative to painters drop cloths for covering hardwood, tile, and vinyl floors. A typical roll size is 36in x 167ft.

Masking tape is categorized based upon its size and adhesive strength. Narrow masking tapes such as ¾ inch and 1 inch work well with a hand masker. Wider widths are easier to use when using painters plastic and masking paper without a hand masker.

Low adhesion, safe release masking tapes are generally more expensive than the high adhesive production masking tapes. Safe Release Masking Tape should be used on surfaces such as wallpaper, painted drywall, hardwood floors, or any other material that could possibly be damaged by a strong adhesive.

Painters Plastic is a lightweight high density plastic. Because its thickness is only 0.31 mils, it is much easier to use than the thicker plastic sheeting. The typical size roll is 9ft or 12 ft x 400ft x 0.31mil. This product is not used with a hand masker.

Folded masking film is often used as an alternative to painters plastic. Masking film is designed to be used with a hand masker. It is available up to an unfolded width of 99 inches. This maximum width can be used to cover most walls from top to bottom. A narrower width film would be more useful covering doors and windows.

Masking Applications

Depending upon which elements of a room are to be painted, a recommended amount of masking is applicable. The goal is to cover the necessary items without being excessive.

Masking for painting ceilings
Masking for painting interior walls
Masking for painting interior trim
Masking for painting interior doors and windows
Masking for painting cabinets
Masking for painting a room

Covering Floors

When should you mask the entire floor?
The entire floor should be covered for the following applications:

  • Spray painting – overspray can drift throughout a room.
  • Painting ceilings – paint drips and roller splatter falls directly to the floor.
  • Major prep sanding – sanding dust finds a way to attach itself to everything.

It is easier to cover a floor when furniture is not scattered around the room. It is always best to remove all the loose items to clear the space. At times this is not possible because some pieces of furniture are too large or too heavy. Sometimes there is just not enough additional space to temporarily store all the objects. If this is the case, try to place everything into the center of the room and cover it with plastic sheeting. Allow the plastic sheeting to overlap onto the floor.

When is it okay to only mask the floor at the perimeter of the room?
You only need to cover the perimeter areas when you are certain that the remainder of the floor is not exposed to paint and dust. Examples of such applications include:

  • Painting interior walls with a roller and brush – paint drips and roller splatter should not land beyond 3-4 feet from the base of the wall.
  • Brushing or rolling trim such as baseboards, crown moldings, and wainscot – these items are usually in the same space as the walls, and paint drips should not fall beyond 3-4 feet from the base of the wall.

Final Thoughts

When covering floors, one difficulty that many painters face is not having enough painters drop cloths. Though they can be somewhat pricey, painters drop cloths can be reused. So if you plan to do any painting projects in the future, they are certainly a good investment.

Paint masking can be time consuming and the cost of masking materials does add up. However, skipping the paint masking step altogether may result in paint and dust making its way to unprotected surfaces, resulting in huge cleanup jobs or even permanent damage. Paint masking is well worth the effort!

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Professional Painting, Inc. is a full service painting company serving the San Francisco Bay Area since 1988.