A double-sided tape is one convenient item in the house owing to its wide range of uses, from sticking carpets on slippery floors to hangings on the wall. Nevertheless, this blessing can turn into a curse when peeling the tape off your painted wall and removing all its traces, as you’ll risk ruining the paint if you fail to follow the proper procedure.
To successfully remove a double-sided tape without damaging the paint, you’ll need to:
- Soften the tape before peeling it off
- Gently peel the tape off the wall
- Clean the residue with a gentle solution
Throughout this article, I’ll cover all things double-sided tape. I’ll take you through the procedure for removing a double-sided tape in detail, discuss ways to clean the residue, and go over some of the best double-sided tapes. Let’s dive right in.
Table of Contents
1. Soften the Tape Before Peeling It Off
First and foremost, you’ll need to soften the tape before pulling it out. Softening the tape helps break down the molecules responsible for bonding (sticking). There are numerous ways to do this, the most common being applying heat or lubricating the tape with an oil-based solvent.
You can introduce heat to the tape in many ways, including:
Connect your hairdryer to the nearest power outlet and turn it on high. Blow the heat over the tape while holding the hairdryer 2-3 inches from the wall. Heat the tape for several minutes until the adhesive softens.
Place a thin towel or layered tissue on the tape. Set your flat iron high, then press against the towel or tissue until the tape becomes hot. Be careful not to scald your hands in the process or damage the surface that the double-sided tape is attached to.
Put hot water in a bowl. Take a cloth, dip into the hot water and press it on the tape until it cools. Repeat the process severally until the glue on the tape softens. Remember to wear rubber gloves to prevent scalding your hands.
A commercial oil-based solvent popularly used for this purpose is WD-40. The spray will not only soften the tape but also remove the adhesive stains left by forming a barrier between the residue and the wall. You can get the WD-40 Cleaner and Degreaser on Amazon.
Remember to clean the wall with soapy water immediately after using WD-40 to prevent staining. Be extremely cautious when using these petroleum-based solvents as they are highly flammable.
An alternative to WD-40 is petroleum jelly. You’ll apply a small amount to the tape and let it sit for a few minutes before beginning to peel off the tape.
Once the adhesive becomes soft, start pulling off the tape. Lift one of the corners using your fingernails, a scraper, or putty knife, then gently peel the tape off using your fingers.
If the tape cools and the glue becomes hard to remove during the process, re-apply heat as in step 1 and continue to peel it until it’s entirely off the wall.
Alternatively, if you have some masking tape lying around, you can use it to peel off the double-sided tape instead of your fingers. You’ll simply cut a piece, stick it on the double-sided tape, and then pull it. Repeat the process until you completely remove the tape.
The tape will, in most cases, leave some residue on the wall, which you’ll need to remove. Note that you don’t need to purchase adhesive remover solvents to clean the residue. There are several inexpensive ways to achieve this, including:
Add about two tablespoons of dishwashing detergent into a bowl with two cups of warm water. Stir the mixture until it foams, then soak a piece of cloth in it. Gently rub the residue using the wet cloth until it’s ultimately removed. Lastly, use a clean cloth or paper towel to dry the wall.
You can also opt to remove the adhesive by applying heat to it. Plug your hairdryer in a socket near you, turn it on to its highest setting, and direct it on the residue. Hold it for a few minutes, then turn it off.
Follow up by scrubbing the softened residue gently using a blade. Be careful not to scratch the paint off. Alternatively, you can rub the residue off using the tip of your finger.
Vinegar is a non-toxic organic solvent used to clean surfaces around the house besides cooking. Add a ¼ cup of white vinegar to a cup of hot water in a bowl, then add several drops of dishwashing detergent.
Soak a piece of cloth or paper towel in the mixture and gently rub the affected area in circular motions. Repeat until the residue is completely gone.
Oil helps ease the adhesive’s bond to the wall. You can use any type of cooking oil, baby oil, or cleansing oil for this purpose. Simply dump a piece of cotton wool with oil and rub the affected surface until the residue comes off. Then, use another cotton wool soaked in low percentage alcohol and scrub off any oily remnants.
Please do not use this procedure on a matte-painted wall as oil will soak into it and permanently stain it. Only use it on walls with glossy paints. Consider testing the oil on an inconspicuous wall first to see if it stains before using it.
You can easily get rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol) from your nearest drug or general store. Soak a clean piece of rag in it, then dab over the surface. Wait until the alcohol evaporates, then wipe off the residue till it is completely removed.
Note that high-percentage alcohol may be unsuitable on painted walls since it can cause fading. However, lower-percentage alcohol, say 70%, can work the trick. Just be cautious enough to test over a small area before applying it to the residue. Do not use acetone or nail polish remover as they are highly likely to damage the paint.
You can, alternatively, use a paste of baking soda with coconut oil to clean off the residue. Coconut oil will disintegrate the adhesive, while the baking soda will act as an abrasive, scrubbing the residue off without destroying the paint.
To prepare the paste, you’ll need to combine equal amounts of baking soda and coconut oil. Stir the mixture until it forms a thick paste, then add 2 to 4 drops of essential oil. You can use lemon or eucalyptus.
Apply the mixture over the residue and let it soak for at least 10 minutes, then wipe with a rag. Finally, clean the surface with soapy water, then dry with a clean cloth.
Besides the aforementioned WD-40, there are other products that can effectively remove stubborn tape residue from surfaces. Consider using Goo Gone Goo and Adhesive Remover from Amazon. It is safe to use on painted areas.
Simply sprinkle it on the affected patch, leave it to soak for 3-5 minutes, then wipe with a clean rag or paper towel. Follow up by cleaning the area with soapy water. It is recommended not to use this product on drywall.
Adhesive residue can be a pain to remove. To prevent or reduce any sticky situation when getting rid of the tape, consider the following:
- Apply the tape on a cleaned and dried surface. Substances like dirt, grease, and dust contribute to the leftover residue.
- Change the tape frequently. Occasionally, remove the old tape, clean the surface, and put in new tape to reduce adhesive build-up. Leaving a tape for too long may also destroy surfaces like painted walls.
- Use the correct tape for the surface. There are tapes specially created to leave little to no residue on specific surfaces. Conducting a little research on them will be of huge help.
- Apply some heat on the tape before pulling it out. As mentioned earlier, heat helps loosen the adhesiveness of the tape. It helps remove as much adhesive as possible, resulting in less residue.
- Use other methods for hanging or sticking that do not involve tape. If tape residue is a real bother, consider things like nails for wall hangings, etc.
There are numerous reasons your double-sided tape may refuse to stick on a surface. Here are a few:
- Dirty Surface: Any kind of dirt that comes in contact with the sticky part before bonding will contaminate it, creating a barrier between the tape and surface. Consider cleaning the surface beforehand with rubbing alcohol and drying using a clean towel.
- Unfavorable Temperatures: The stickiness of the tape is highly dependent on the environmental temperatures. Some adhesive tapes aren’t resilient to high temperatures, while others don’t do well in cold areas. Check the tape’s temperature rating and effectiveness in an outdoor application before buying to avoid tape failure.
- Strength of the Tape: A tape may refuse to stick because you are overloading it. Consider the amount of weight the tape can hold when purchasing it. Some tapes can support light objects, while others can hold up to 90 pounds per inch.
- UV Light Exposure: Some materials, when exposed to ultraviolet rays for prolonged periods, will deteriorate, and adhesive tape is no exception. The rays destroy the bonding molecules making the tape hard and brittle. So, if you are in a region that experiences above-average UV subjection, consider using other methods for the job than tape.
- Improper Storage: Storing your tapes inappropriately, like any other material, will result in damage. Consider storing them as recommended on their package.
According to most reviews, the best double-sided tapes are from Gorilla, Scotch, or 3M brands. The Scotch Indoor Double-Sided Mounting Tape specifically topped most lists as the best tape for painted walls, drywalls included.
It provides a powerful permanent bond supporting up to 1 pound per 3 inches of tape. It is best to apply when the temperature ranges between 50 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
Double-sided tapes are famous due to their convenience and versatility. However, removing them from painted walls may prove to be tricky. Ensure not to peel them off before softening to prevent peeling the paint. Also, consider using the solvents and solutions described in this article when cleaning the residue, but not before testing their effectiveness on a hidden area.
Lastly, take note of the buying and storage tips for adhesive tape, as well as tips for preventing residue build-up.