masking car with 3M tape


Masking for Collision Repair


Auto Masking from Start to Finish

  • To start: In 1925, 3M developed the original masking tape specifically to help lower costs on the first two-tone automotive paint jobs. Today the benefits of our invention are represented in a complete selection of 3M masking tapes, sheeting, car masking paper, specialty tapes and applicators for every type of automotive masking. It includes our Scotch® Performance Green Masking Tape 233+ - the iconic “green tape,” trusted in collision repair shops for decades – and a variety of solutions for achieving flawless lines and smooth transitions. Choose tapes for trim masking, jamb masking, multi-color striping and much more. The tapes are just the start: 3M offers them as part of full masking systems for the finest finishes, as well as controlling dust and overspray and maximising shop efficiency.

Masking Categories

  • 3M provides tapes developed specifically to suit the ever-changing demands of collision repair. Featuring brands such as Scotch® and Highland™, the selection includes tapes that deliver strong and balanced adhesion to any automotive substrate. Our car masking tapes are designed for conformable application and clean removal from challenging surfaces.

  • Decades of science and experience are built into our plastic masking solutions for collision repair. 3M offers plastic sheeting that stands up to bake cycles and resists moisture, preventing staining or imprint marking. All sheeting is treated for maximum overspray adhesion, and with a light static cling that makes them easy to handle with or without available applicators.

  • Beneath the surface of our 3M car masking paper you’ll find features that can really save time and rework in the shop. All of our masking paper products are heat resistant to withstand baking cycles. All are specially treated to prevent bleed-through of solvents, lacquers and enamels, and developed specifically to meet the demands of collision repair.

  • When crisp, sharp paint lines are critical, this selection delivers the precise combinations of low profile and the ideal adhesion you need. Features of these specialty masking tapes include conformable, stretchable backing and rubber-based adhesives – excellent for sweeping curves – as well as constructions pre-slit into strips for easily creating stripes as thin as 1/16”.

  • Our jamb masking tapes are engineered specifically to soften or virtually eliminate hard paint lines at automotive jambs, hoods, trunk lines and other areas where paint must blend seamlessly. 3M uses soft foams, precision-engineered adhesives and more to allow paint to feather for virtually invisible paint lines.

  • Instead of spending time removing moldings and other automotive trim, you can simply mask over it – without the resulting paint lines. 3M™ Perforated Trim Masking Tape features a hard band along its edge that slightly lifts the trim molding. As paint is applied, it flows behind the trim – once it’s dry, technicians simply remove the tape and let the molding drop back into place.

Product Spotlight

  • This tape is the go-to masking solution for premiere collision repair shops. Its balanced four-part construction is designed specifically for collision repair. Its backing and its adhesive system combine for an unparalleled blend of conformability, control, adhesion to multiple substrates, and easy removal with no adhesive transfer. This tape performs on paint, plastic, glass, metal, rubber and more.

Featured Applications

  • General Masking Application and Standard Operating Procedure Video Theory
    General Masking

    Review valuable information for creating sharp, professional paint jobs using 3M masking products. Standard operating procedure includes the steps for critical edge masking using general masking tapes, fine line tape, vinyl- or film-backed tapes and trim masking tape. It also covers overspray protection, tape removal and vehicle cleaning.

  • Jamb Masking Product Category Application and Standard Operating Procedure Featured Video
    Jamb Masking

    Featuring 3M™ Soft Edge Foam Masking Tape PLUS and 3M™ Smooth Transition Tape, this standard operating procedure covers the steps for masking jambs and other areas where visible paint lines must be minimized. It includes the proper application, positioning and removal of 3M specialty masking tapes. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • A: Lots of tapes can help achieve the basic purpose of masking – ensuring that coatings are applied only where they are supposed to be. But masking tapes can also increase your shop efficiency. The right tapes can save a lot of time, as technicians can apply in one piece without having to continually re-start the tape due to breakage. The tape will also apply with fewer wrinkles and unnecessary overlaps that can compromise the mask. Look for masking tapes with release coatings or similar features that help the tape unwind smoothly and consistently, and a primer layer that anchors the adhesive to the backing. Similarly, masking tapes are available with adhesives formulated for clean removal from all automotive substrates including rubber or glass, without leaving adhesive residue that must be cleaned. They will also remove much more quickly without small pieces of backing remaining on the substrate, especially on jobs left overnight or over the weekend.

  • A: Yes. Cold temperatures stiffen the tape adhesive. This means it can require more pressure to adhere immediately to the surface, and more time for cleaning adhesive transfer after removal. Conversely, higher temperatures soften both the backing and the adhesive and cause the tape to easily stretch. This means that the adhesive must cover a larger area, lowering its effectiveness and making the tape less reliable for sharp paint lines. Humidity is a particular problem, as it can cause condensation on the panel surface; many masking tape adhesives do not perform well in water.

  • A: Instead of a combination of plastic and paper, we recommend premium plastic sheeting as it easily pays for itself in masking time and reduced rework. Reusable, untreated plastic and paper sheeting from around the shop will normally have dirt or dust particles on it and can easily introduce those contaminants to the paint job. It also does not prevent dried paint from flaking off and contaminating the fresh paint job upon removal. You can counter this by using smaller pieces of masking paper along with the sheeting, but that can be time consuming.

    Instead, premium automotive plastic sheeting such as 3M™ Overspray Protective Sheeting goes through a chemical process called a corona treatment. This changes the surface chemistry of the plastic, helping paint adhere to it and preventing flaking. You can also tape directly to the plastic sheeting instead of using it in conjunction with masking paper, which saves time and material.

  • A: Traditionally, moldings and trim have been time consuming: to get a clean paint line, you must remove the trim before painting, clean it and reinstall it after the paint has cured. Instead, wherever applicable we recommend 3M™ Perforated Trim Masking Tape. This tape lets you mask trim and moldings without removing them, yet still attain fully concealed paint lines. The tape features a hard, rigid band along one edge. The band slips gently beneath trim and moldings and lifts them slightly from the body, allowing paint to flow under them. After paint has cured, simply remove the tape and let the trim drop back onto the body. The bands are available in several widths, helping ensure that they will hold the trim reliably. The masking tape is also perforated so you to tear it by hand, saving time.

  • A: Choosing and properly using the right masking products can go a long way toward eliminating issues related to quality and efficiency in the paint shop. But even the best masking tapes, masking paper and plastic sheeting will only be their most effective in a clean paint booth. Regular force-flashing with waterborne paints can upset the air flow in the booth, resulting in dirt and contaminants coming loose and falling on paint. We recommend 3M™ Dirt Trap Surface Protection Material, a nonwoven material with a light adhesive that applies to walls and floors and removes without leaving residue. This material traps even tiny particles of dirt and paint rather than simply collecting them, keeping them from spreading. This helps keep them out of the paint job, reducing time spent buffing later on. It also makes cleanup easier – you simply peel up the used material and replace it, with no daily maintenance. 3M offers Dirt Trap in white (slightly higher adhesive strength, great for walls) or gray, which hides footprints and is excellent for floors.

Need More Information?

If you have additional questions about 3M masking tapes, 3M plastic sheeting, 3M masking paper or anything related to your masking operations and collision repair, we’re happy to help. To contact us, or to view more information about 3M Collision Repair products and solutions, click to the right. We look forward to working with you!