Easy does it

Tips for working with delicate surfaces

Whether it’s a vintage wallpaper or a historic staircase, working with delicate surfaces can be a daunting task if the right masking preparations aren’t in place. As experts in masking solutions, Q1 and Wesley Knight of WKPD offer some tips on how to achieve the perfect finish even on the most sensitive of areas…

The first thing you’ll need to consider when working with sensitive surfaces is how you’re going to protect the area you’re focusing on. If it’s a heritage or historical property, chances are any mistakes will be difficult to undo and it could result in time and money trying to rectify any mistakes.
  “To make sure you get it right first time, you’ll want to know what type of masking solution type is right for the job”, says veteran painter and decorator, Wesley Knight.
  “Chances are you’ve used standard crêpe-style tapes before, but these can often be too strong for most freshly painted surfaces, not to mention offer little resistance against paint bleed. For special projects where extra care is needed, I use a washi style tape that can stick to most substrates with ease without feeling so tacky that it removes the paint underneath once you peel it away.”
  Wesley adds, “The best thing to do in this situation is to have a range of tapes available in your van at all times, that way you don’t get cut short or run any unnecessary risks. I always look out for tapes that deal specifically with sensitive surfaces, you’ll want a tape that you can put 100% trust in so it’s always worth giving it a practice run before you’re working on a paying project.”

Size it up

Once you’ve chosen your tape, it’s also important to consider the right size, depending on your surface. For example, you’ll want a tape that can fully cover the lip of skirting boards so you can achieve a straight edge finish whilst protecting woodwork from any overspray from your roller. Having a range of sizes at the ready will be of help here to minimise wastage.
  Wesley finds that inferior tapes, can be more trouble than they’re worth, “Everyone works differently, but when decorating a room, I find that painting the skirting boards and ceilings first, and then walls second is the most efficient process, particularly when using water-based paint systems. If you take this approach then a proper masking strategy will be essential. Don’t be tempted by sub-standard tapes at this point either. You might save a couple of pounds per roll initially but it can come back to haunt you if it falls short of the mark during mid-project.”

Right tape for the job

If you’re working with water-based paints then you’ll need a quality tape that won’t allow paint to bleed or be so strong that the adhesive pulls at the surface on removal. It’s a fine-line to get right, which is why your choice of tape is vital.
  “For me, long gone are the days of thinking that using tape was just cheat tactics to achieve a straight line, with paint systems and finishes changing, masking tape is one of the most essential tools in the bag”, says Wesley.
  “You simply can’t get a straighter, crisp line than you do with tape, and if used correctly, it can save you time and make you money, whilst achieving the sharpest results possible.”

Peel for the reveal

Finally, when it comes to removing your tape, peel away from the wall at a 45-degree angle. It’s important to leave it to dry for as long as possible before you start peeling the tape away. Although there may be times when the job dictates that this isn’t possible, the longer the tape is left, the more likely you are to get the clean, precise finish that both you and your clients are trying to achieve.
See some more of Wesley’s work on Instagram at @wkpd1986