Blue tape is a specific kind of masking tape, also called painter's tape due to its intended application. Originally developed by 3M, blue tape is low-stick masking tape designed for protecting surfaces during painting. Blue tape is manufactured to remove cleanly without damaging surfaces and without leaving any adhesive residue behind.
Blue painter's tape can be used to protect painted walls, trim, woodwork, metal, and glass during painting, staining, or varnishing of surrounding surfaces. Blue tape should not be used on lacquer or most faux finishes. It is best used on semi-smooth surfaces, but it's not ideal for use on brick, concrete, or stone.
Regular masking tape can be difficult to apply and even more difficult to remove from walls and trim due to its higher concentration of adhesive. The flexible crepe backing of blue painter's tape makes it pliable and easy to conform to corners and oddly shaped, semi-smooth surfaces. Blue tape is typically available in widths ranging from ¾ inch (1.9 cm) to 2 inches (5.08 cm).
Blue tape is unaffected by UV rays or direct sunlight. Unlike regular masking tape, painter's tape does not react to sunlight by becoming stickier. Painter's tape can be used reliably in temperatures above 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius) and in excess of 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius). Multi-surface painter's tape can be left on surfaces with little risk of adhesive transfer for up to 14 days.
For use on delicate surfaces, 3M manufactures a special variety of blue tape. This masking tape can be used on freshly painted surfaces where the paint is at least 24-hours old, as well as on wood floors, primed wallboard, vinyl-coated wallpaper, and other more fragile surfaces. With an even lower stickiness rating than standard blue tape, painter's tape for delicate surfaces can be left on for up to 60 days without risk of surface damage or adhesive residue. As with any household product, the package label of the tape should be consulted prior to use.
Cutting blue tape to mask corners can be time consuming, and hand-cutting pieces can waste tape. As an alternative to cutting small pieces of rolled tape, 3M makes precut corner pieces marketed under the brand name Scotch-Blue® Painter's Tape For Corners. This multi-surface, medium-adhesive tape is for use on paint over 30 days old, and on windows, woodwork, and other trim. These precut pieces are also ideal for masking spindle bases on railings and banisters, as the specially designed interior angle of the tape is resistant to splitting and tearing.
3M also produces an applicator preloaded with multi-surface blue tape. Similar to a packaging tape dispenser, the device applies the tape flush against the wall in a smooth, even motion, and has a built-it cutter. This tool is especially helpful for applying painter's tape to long stretches of straight, flat wall. Along with the applicator, blue tape can be purchased at hardware stores, home improvement stores, and large department stores.