The Claim: The 3M Company's (blue) Painter's Tape can be left in place for up to 14 days without leaving a sticky mess. Reality check: As with most products, they should also tell you what it will do if you leave it on that long – or at least under what circumstances it can be left on for that long. My experience proves it isn't a good idea at all. Home improvement is stressful enough without having surprises thrown at you; especially if you do it yourself.
I recently had the urge to do some home improvement. It's summer. It seems like a good time to paint a couple of the rooms that really needed it. Since we do live so very far away from any city considered large (I think ours has a population of way less than 200) I filled the truck with gas and drove the 60 miles to the nearest Home Depot. I thought I knew how much I needed of everything- their computer will tell you how much paint you need for any given room so know the dimensions of each room. While the friendly paint guy mixed my custom colors I finished my list. One item I wanted to try was the blue Painter's Tape from 3M. They claim it can be left in place for up to 14 days without leaving a sticky residue. I've used regular masking tape to protect my windows and floors before and it does leave a sticky mess that is really difficult to remove. It can absolutely ruin a ceiling and I had planned on painting that too.
Upon arriving back home and unloading my loot, I began prepping the rooms. I cleaned the walls and ceiling (vacuuming) and painted the ceilings so they could dry and I could tape them for the huge job of painting the walls. I had everything taped that might possibly get unwanted green paint on it and removed outlet covers and switch plates. It was hot, hard work but I was excited to get my new room makeover. I taped both rooms at the same time since I was already in taping mode, ran out (I knew I should have gotten more than one roll) and had to go to the local lumber yard for another roll. (Major price difference!)
I painted the first room and then took a break to do the regular household chores. I got back to the room several hours later. the paint was dry and the room looked great, except for the tape of course. I pulled it down carefully and to my horror, the paint along every one of the edges (floor, ceiling, windows, and doors) peeled off in sheets. I had to repaint where it had peeled off. I ended up using poster board (also known as tag board) to protect the parts I didn't want painted and do it a foot at a time.
I almost pulled off the tape before I painted the second room, but since I had painted a closet and pulled the tape off pretty much immediately with success, I decided to try it again with the second room. It worked just as it was supposed to. Lesson learned: Don't leave the tape in place for 14 days. Don't even leave it in place while the paint dries.
Another lesson learned: Get what you need at the larger, discount store. At the Home Depot the 3/4-inch X 60 Yards roll of the 3M blue Painter's Tape was $3.16, at the local lumber yard it was $10.95 a roll. I guess there is something to be said about that volume buying discount!