How Long to Wait Before Removing Masking Tape From Paint

Updated July 20, 2017

Masking tape is often used in painting to prevent the paint from covering unintended areas. To remove your masking tape without damaging your work, you must wait until the painted area dries completely. The drying time can depend on many factors including temperature, humidity, type of paint and paint colour.

Oil Paint

Oil paints, often used to paint wood and metal, can take days or months to dry completely. For this reason, some oil paints include a drying agent to decrease the drying time. Wait at least 48 hours before removing masking tape from oil paint. Darker colours generally have slower drying times than lighter colours, so if you use wait at least 72 hours if you use a dark colour paint. To be safe, wait three days before removing the masking tape from an oil painted surface.

Enamel Paint

Enamel paint, used on a wide variety of surfaces, dries relatively quickly compared to oil paint. Enamel paint usually takes six hours to completely dry. The surface may feel dry to the touch after just one hour, below the paint below the surface has not fully dried yet. Wait six hours before removing masking tape from an enamel painted surface.

Aerosol Paint

Aerosol paint, also known as "spray paint," can be used on many surfaces, including metal and plastic. It usually takes 24 hours for aerosol paint to dry completely, but if you live in a damp or humid environment, it may take 48 hours for the paint to dry. To prevent any damage to your new paint job, wait at least 48 hours before removing the masking tape from a surface covered with aerosol paint.


Lacquer, a clear glossy varnish, dries hard and is often applied over another paint as a top coat to give the finished surface a glossy shine. The most common types of lacquer are nitrocellulose, urushiol-based, water-based and acrylic. Lacquer is usually applied in a thin layer over dried paint. Since the layer is thin, it requires less drying time than some other types of paint. Wait 24 hours before removing masking tape from a newly lacquered surface to prevent damage to the paint job.

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About the Author

Edward Zehtab began writing in 2005 and was awarded with the Sawston Creative Young Writer's Award in 2008. His areas of expertise include life sciences, graphics and networking. Zehtab is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in biology at the University of Warwick and plans to write articles discussing medicine and computing.