Monday, 19 August 2013

How to Lift Old Masking Tape

I knew I would have problems removing the masking tape from the cockpit combing after painting the inside of the boat cockpit. The job had simply gone on too long due to extreme weather and so the tape had been on for a month. Problem is that the paper deteriorates and the glue hardens. When you pull off the tape the glues stays firmly fixed to the GRP surface and it can be extremely difficult to remove.

Internet research suggested a number of strategies and products. I was worried however, because some writers suggest that some of the commercial glue removing products can damage the paint or gelcoat. The solution therefore had to be a gentle one, and anyway, this story is about ‘low cost’ solutions. Two particularly interesting (although contradictory) suggestions were:

rub the area with oil – WD40 or even cooking oil, this adds moisture to the dryed out glue and makes it easier to scrape off;


use a really strong degreaser such as a kitchen cleaner based on lemon or citric acid and this will remove the sticking quality of the glue and make it easier to remove.

So, one suggestion recommends adding oil, the other suggests removing it. I discarded the WD40 solution because I thought it might stain the gelcoat or adjacent new paint and instead I opted for the use of Olive Oil. First though I had to get the paper off. I was lucky to some extent because I had used a good quality masking tape (blue rather than white) and theis meant to problems was not quite so bas as I had imagined. I was also fortunate because the tape had been applied around the combing of the cockpit and therefore the surface to be cleaned was quite narrow.

The paper came off easily enough using a bog standard Opinel folding knife as a draw-knife and simply pulling the balde towards me under the paper. The Opinel is a wood handled folding knife available throughout France and few country folk leave home without one in their pockets. I particularly like the mild steel blade which can be sharpened on any piece of granite you might pick up in a filed or hedgerow.

Next, I rubbed olive oil into the gray hadened glue and left it for about ten minutes. Sure enough it loosened the glue and much of it lifted off using the knife blade as a scraper.

Then on went the degreaser, a builder’s detergent I picked up in a DIY store. Having left this for a while, a course rag finished the job easily. My bacon was savcd.