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When to Remove Masking Tape After Siliconing?

Using masking tape when siliconing is a popular way for those without tonnes of decorating experience to achieve nice clean, straight lines with their silicone. There is one question that pops up time and time again though and no one has really answered it, that is when to remove masking tape after siliconing?

So you do it straight away, as soon as you are done with the silicone? Or do you wait, and allow the silicone to dry a little before removing the masking tape?

This decorating method is not one I use myself, I like the trusty finger and pot of soapy water method myself. because of this, I cant tell you the answer from experience, but there is one thing I can do, test it!

Testing When to Remove Masking Tape After Siliconing

So the test. I will put some masking tape on a random bit of scrap wood before applying some silicone. On one run I will remove the silicone straight away and on the other run, I will leave it a couple of hours to allow it to start to form a skin before removing it.

The test setup

The test setup

I don’t want the silicone to fully dry before I remove it as that will be a guaranteed disaster.

Peeling Straight Away

The idea behind this method is to remove the silicone immediately after you are done applying it. This way there is no chance of it drying and sticking to the masking tape.

The silicone will not go anywhere on its own so there is no risk of it running over the edge of where the tape was or anything like that.

With the silicone applied

With the silicone applied

So here wave the test piece with the two beads of silicone applied. The top one will be left for a couple of hours to allow a skin to form. On the bottom run, we will be peeling the masking tape immediately.

After The Peel

After The Peel

so there we have it, the freshly peeled bead of silicone. It is fairly neat, and neater than a beginner could get it using their finger, but it is not perfect. Let’s have a look at the below photo to see a few of the problems in closer detail.

After the peel close up

After the peel close up

So as you can see the edges have peeled up, particularly badly in some areas.

Because the silicone was still very wet some of it came up with the tape and then sort of peeled over. This happened a few times but the close-up area shown in the worst example.

I think this would be fairly easily fixed by running a wet finger or siliconing tool over the silicone with light pressure once the tape has been removed.

If you want to see the peel in action I have a quick video clip for you below. In this video, you can see the silicone lip up and then turn into the sort of peel looking shape.

Peeling After The Silicone Has Started to Dry

So let’s see how the other part of our testing goes. Is it better to let the silicone start to dry before removing the masking tape? I will fix the issue of the tape liping up, but I imagine it will be very hard to actually remove once it has started to dry.

I won’t be letting the tape fully dry as that just wouldn’t work at all. You would then have dried caulk on top of the tape so it would be impossible to remove it without damaging the caulk and defeating the whole purpose of using the tape.

After the peel left for 2 hours

After the peel left for 2 hours

This was definitely a lot worse as you can clearly see in the photo. I would definitely recommend peeling the masking tape immediately after siliconing rather than leaving it to partially dry.

How to achieve the best finish

So if peeling straight away can leave lips in the silicone but leaving the silicone results in an even worse finish then how do you go about getting a good finish?

Well, the easiest way to get a good finish when using silicone and masking tape is to only use the masking tape as an edge.

What I mean by this is only use the masking tape to keep your edge line straight. You don’t want much silicone, if any, to be going over the tape. So make sure you only put a thin bead down before spreading it out.

You can also go back over the silicone once the tape has been removed to smooth out any lips. You can just use your finger for this. Make sure to keep it wet by dipping it in some soapy water. Many people just used to use spit to lubricate but apparently, that can introduce bacteria which makes mould growth on the silicone more likely.

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