before and after basics: masking tape designs


Another week has passed, which means it’s time to talk furniture! Today’s Before & After Basics is all about using tape to create custom designs on furniture. I am super excited about how this piece turned out, and even though I used a very simple technique, there are many ways that you can add to or expand on this idea. I have seen tons of amazing creations out there, so experiment and have fun creating! — Barb

CLICK HERE for the full how-to after the jump!


  • painter’s tape (get the good stuff! no scrimping)
  • paint brush and roller
  • paint tray
  • rags
  • craft knife


1. Determine a design plan and then apply the painter’s tape to the piece. Really press the tape on firmly to ensure that all of the edges are secure. This will keep paint from seeping underneath any loose edges.

2. Use the razor blade to cut off the tape at the drawer stopping points and wherever else you need a clean, protected edge. I find it easier to apply tape the whole way down with the drawers in and then use the blade to cut the tape at key points.

3. Once you are sure that everything is in place and secure, start applying the paint. I used a roller on this piece, and it is very similar to applying paint to a stencil. Make sure you don’t have a ton of paint on the roller — too much paint will gather around the tape edge, and will not leave a clean edge when you pull it off. Not good!

4. Apply two to three coats of paint in thin layers. Once the paint is pretty dry, remove the tape. (For this particular piece, I did not wait until the paint was completely dry.) Be sure to remove the tap gingerly! Keep the tape tight and straight and don’t pull one way or the other, as this will cause uneven strain on any given point.

5. After removing all the tape, you’re ready to apply the finish! But, if any of the tape did not peel away evenly, you can go back in with an angled brush and touch up those problem areas :)

6. Apply the finish. I chose stain in this case (imagine that!). Once the finish is dry, apply the hardware.

Happy painting! See you next week.

  1. kiki says:

    wow!! i love the stain! great tips; thank you! i’ve messed this up before by just ripping the tape off; thinking the ‘hard’ work was done…and my edges were anything but clean! thank you :)

  2. Stephanie says:

    Hmm. I would have never thought of doing something like this on furniture (and with stain). And it looks great! Thanks.

  3. mb says:

    Does the piece have to be sanded beforehand? Thank you,

  4. sara s. says:

    this looks awesome! what a fantastic way to give a classic piece of furniture a modern twist! thanks!

  5. what’s wrong with me that whenever i try to tape off edges, they always come out jagged? i have a painter’s tape curse.

  6. Penny says:

    I’ve seen this technique at some furniture stores and and LOVE that I now know the secrets to the painter’s tape! THANK YOU! :)

  7. Loora says:

    This column is like a Christmas gift I receive each week… Please, please, please go on for years !
    I’m still struggling with the painting of my dresser… not a perfect first attempt, but so gratifying and fun. Modernizing and refreshing my own childhood’s furniture for my 6 months old son just makes me happy.

    By the way, do you have a magic recipe for sanding old ornate pieces ? My grandmother’s dresser and vanité (sorry, am French, don’t know the translation) have been poorly restored at least three times since 1910. Coats of heavy paints have been applied on delicious rose-shaped carvings. Will sanding paper destroy it ? Should I get those pieces to a professional for sanding ? I really love them and don’t want to hurt them…

  8. Marlene says:

    Great idea. I like that the stripes on the right and the left have different widths.

  9. Anabel says:

    This is a great way to revamp a piece while preserving some of its original surface treatment… Must confess I often cringe at the idea of substituting the native style of something to replace it with a trendy color; first you see an over-saturation of said color, then it falls out of fashion. :(
    I think I will try this!

  10. Great idea that even I could do!

  11. Barb says:

    Hello friends! I feel like I need to clarify that the piece is painted black and the taped off parts are the previous wood showing through. The stain that I am referring to was used at the end over the entire piece to give it that rich finish + shine.

    MB, yes, you will want to lightly sand your piece beforehand, and if you want the natural wood to shine through like this piece- don’t go to crazy with the sanding! Just enough to prep it for paint!

    Julie, Oh boo! I promise there are no such things as mean painters tape curses! Just make sure that your edges are secure, and it is really important that you use very light layers of paint. too much paint causes a bubble and peel effect when the tape comes off. Try again, and see if it works better. I believe in you! :)

    Loora, you are a gem! Thank you for your sweet words! I am thrilled that you are finding inspiration here, and fulfillment in working on your own pieces. That is awesome! As far as your grandmother’s piece……what a treasure! You do want to be careful when sanding detail, and you can absolutely damage intricate detail by lots of harsh sanding. If there are several coats of paint on this piece, the sanding alone will not get all the layers of paint off, and in fact will damage your piece. I would suggest taking it to someone who can lovingly strip the layers of paint off and get in all of those nooks and crannies. If you would like to try the stripping yourself you can refer to this article : for advice!

    Thank you all for the sweet words! I’m glad you like this project!


  12. robin says:

    I’ll be honest…I didnt want to like it at first…but it’s very cool! I love it and all the possibilities it opens!

  13. what a great new look you have given to this piece and the knobs are perfect. This is a winter project i am going to try…thanks!!

  14. I’m about to stain a similar cabinet- what perfect timing! The stripes are a great idea. Thanks!

  15. Rosalind says:

    TBH I have to say ‘what a shame’, you ruined a beautiful piece of wood with your totally unsympathetic black paint. Pity.

    1. Barb says:

      rosalind, thank you for being honest!

  16. Loora says:

    Thank you Barb for your advice ! I’ll save up some money to have it professionally stripped. But I’ll be doing the repainting myself !

  17. This is a really useful tutorial, thanks for posting it! Masking tape is so handy for all sorts of decorating projects.

  18. Barb says:

    thank you so much, i’m glad you enjoy it!
    i don’t believe i have ever had the privilege of trying a brazilian cake! i wish i could say i had! :)

  19. Revival Room says:

    That looks so classy! Amazing what a little blue tape can do.

  20. jenn says:

    Brilliant! I can see this in a young fellow’s room. A classy, young fellow, that is. You are awesome, Barb. And it’s not the tape, it’s you!!

  21. Donna says:

    Gorgeous. I never thought of putting stain over paint. Was the stain the final coat or did you add poly or wax as the final finish? Thanks for you wonderful articles.

  22. Barb you are a genius!!!! I staining a dresser this weekend, and guess what i am doing! Couldn’t have come at a more prefect time!

  23. I love letting some wood show through on pieces it makes them perfectly imperfect and have a little bit. Great job.

  24. It really does look amazing. I am going to try this on our dresser if my honey will let me. Barb, you are just too smart for words!

  25. Rosalind says:

    interesting that you post a ‘thank you for being honest’ but not the actual post!

  26. Lisa says:

    Rosalind we get it she painted wood, you get upset over painted wood.
    Seems to me that most of us get really excited when we see Barb’s post and are really in awe that she would share these tricks of stains and waxes and oh yes painting techniques!

  27. Justine says:

    I love it I love it I love it! Great solution to keeping some of the integrity of the wood present even when you want to paint.

  28. Feistberger says:

    Nice job with this piece! Great way to make an heirloom-style piece more masculine…

  29. Penny says:

    I loved this post! I just tried it (paint on paint) and without the taping tips or amount of paint (near the paint) tips, it would have been disastrous. How do I contain not doing this to everything I own?? eek! :)

  30. Kate Kazabon says:

    I’ve read and re-read this, and your staining article Barb, as well as all the Q&A’s, but I just can’t work out what you mean aout “applying the finish”. Do you mean you stained over the paintwork as well as the unpainted stripes, or just the stripes? thankyou!

    1. Barb says:

      kate, ok friend….let’s see if I can clear this up for you. I apply the stain over the entire piece, both the painted and the unpainted stripes. I know this may be a new concept , but it is something i do to all of my pieces, and it works beautifully!

  31. Roseanna says:

    Oh my, another gorgeous piece I love!
    Thank you for sharing your expertise and great sense of style!

  32. ian martin says:

    this is great! i love the brown on black look!

  33. Cynthia says:

    I know this is an old post, but I had to add this solution to that “painter’s tape curse.” Paint over the edges of the tape with clear artist’s gel medium. It seals the edges so that no paint can leak through, and the result is beautifully crisp. An artist friend painted stripes in our baby’s room and this was her trick. It adds an extra step (and some time — including for the medium to dry), but it’s so worth it!

  34. Marlene says:

    Your refinishing work is amazing. I love the black paint, the stripes, and the beautiful knobs. I go to a lot of auctions, and will look for the perfect piece to do this on. Thank you for sharing your talent with us. God Bless

  35. eokon says:

    I think the readers of this might appreciate the website that my friend just started – it lets you get ideas and design your rooms/apartment online! Check it out…

  36. Jared Arnold says:

    Do you use oil or water-based stain/paints on this type of tape-off? I find mixed results and sometimes feel like the oil-based bleeds under the tape edge a bit more. Even on the frog tape, painters, 3m… doesn’t seem to matter.

  37. Sara says:

    I love this piece! I have a huge love for refurbishing old furniture but have ran through a few small problems but your tutorial has cleared them up! Thank you! All of your pieces are simply beautiful!


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