Painter’s blue tape pulled up floor finish

Q: I have a new home with 2 1/4 x 3/4 oak flooring. The installers put the stain on, first coated the floor with urethane. Then they came back sanded the floor applied a final coat of urethane and it set for about 3 and 1/2 days. The painters put down paper with painters blue tape to protect the floor. When the tape was pulled up a coat of the finish came up with the tape.

The painters tape pulled off finish. What could cause this?

A: My guess is insufficient buffing between coats to gain good adhesion. This issue came up on a list I belong to, so I did a tape test at home. I had a pine plank with a couple of coats of waterborne urethane and an oak board with a couple of coats of oil modified. I applied to both boards 2 types of painters tape and a strip of Gorilla tape and made sure they were well pressed on. I left them for 5 days and then removed them. Just as I expected. Nothing happened. You could not have seen that any tape had ever been applied. So, it’s not the tape.

Related Q: I have composite hardwood floors, 10 years old. They have always been dull and I have tried many products to try and lighten them up. They have seen better days. I just had my kitchen redone and when the paint guys removed the blue painters tape the top coating pulled off. Now I have shiny tape lines all over my floors; it’s not the tape residue, it’s actually exposed floor underneath the poly. Now what can I do? Thank you!

A: Buff the entire floor and apply another coat. This tape should not have pulled the finish off. Clearly you did not have good adhesion between coats or between the floor and the finish.

Related Q: I just moved into a new house that was completely rehabbed. The hardwood floor seal is peeling. When we moved in we had a few places that looks like scratches, but upon closer inspection I realized it wasn’t a scratch, it was the seal peeling off. Later I laid some blue painters tape to mark off an area rug and now I have lines on the floor where the tape was, more peeling. I was wondering if this is normal or do I have a case to go back to the builder to have the floors resealed?

A: No this is not normal. The floors will have to be sanded to clean wood and done again. Perhaps they just had another coat applied to existing finish to freshen it up. But clearly something has gone wrong with that process and adhesion has not been achieved.

Follow-up: Great, thank you for confirming what I thought. This will help when I got back to the builders.

Related Q: So I see that you have addressed the blue painters tape pulling up the finish on a hard wood floor. This just happened to me with the folks redoing my kitchen cabinets. They think the solution is going to be to sand on both sides of the numerous tape lines and just “blend in” the finish. Is this an adequate solution or does the whole floor need stripped and refinished at one time?

A: If it was me, I would probably apply a coat of finish where it was removed and afterward apply another coat over the entire floor. Here is the concern: that tape should not have pulled the finish off. This tells me you don’t have a good bond between coats. So I wonder if at some point peeling will commence.

Follow-up Q: Thank you! We bought this house 2 1/2 years ago and this is the first issue we had with it. I will see what the fix is from the folks who put the tape down. What’s weird is that I had some things taped down next to their tape and my tape pulled right up with no issue. I had used moving tape used for moving boxes, while they had used the blue painters tape.

A: One issue I have seen is this – some floor guys don’t bother buffing or scratching the previous coat of finish around the perimeter a few inches out from the wall. This helps create a mechanical bond. Later, if someone puts down tape it will pull the finish because there was no or little grip between the coats of finish. I always strap on the knee pads and hand sand the edges.