Masking stripes for painting on to a car sound easy but it’s really not.

Firstly why both painting stripes on your car when you can just use vinyl? Painted line just look so much better, they are as glossy as the paint work, painted racing stripes dont scratch like vinyl and if you paint them on correctly can’t even be felt when you run your hand over the edge of them.

We have striped and painted decals on to a number of cars and I thought I would share some of the tips I have found about applying painted lines with you.

How to Paint stripes on a car.

    • Always use a fineline edging tape, not masking tape to outline stripes. this will provide clean crisp lines and it is low tac for easy repositioning. Vinyl masking tape also has more flexibility allow the line to flow with no jagged edges.

      3m 3mm vinyl Fineline tape

      3m 3mm vinyl Fineline tape

    • Find the cars datum line/centre line and work either side.If you are right handed start from the left closest line to centre line, then match it on the right. This way you can clearly see and reference your previous line when laying the next (reverse this if you are left handed). Repeat the process working from the centre out. working out from the centre will help you to visually gauge accuracy.
    • Keep checking your lines all the time from various angles. rough measurements will help you but as most cars are constructed with compound curves you may find that the mathematically correct measurements don’t look correct and you will need to adjust by eye.  Check the lines and how they relate to other panels.

      Note how visually the boot lines lead the eye directly in to the roof lines

    • Look along the stripe from a low perspective. This will help you see any waves in the fine line tape.


  • Check the corners and panel skin wraparounds for both tape deformation and adhesion. I usually use a piece of regular masking tape to hold the fine line down in the corners otherwise overspray will get behind the tap in to those tight corners if you dont keep the tension with a bit of additional tape to help.
  • Once striped and the masking removed clean thoroughly making sure any adhesive masking residue is removed before clear coating.
  • When touching the car there should be no detectable raise along the edge of painted stripes. Carefully denib and sand (1500grit) the edge of stripes to remove an fine paint build up that may have occurred along the tape edge.
  • Apply extra coat or two then normal of clear to eradicate edges prior to colour sanding.
  • Avoid using a direct gloss as it builds higher then base coats.

    more complex masking on the door.

    FullSizeRender 1

    2 days of masking where required for this Mustangs Le-mans stripes to be paint with confidence

  •  Feel confident that the lines are as good as you can get them. If you dont feel confident of that then don’t put the paint on until you are confident.

Other example of our striping


Complex painted racing stripes

Painting complex stripes on cars have many consideration. everything has to look balanced and in-sync. keep asking your self if the left matches the right, If the front matches the back. and every angle in-between,  especially on low cars with nothing to block your vision. Check the radii radii are they smooth? do they match there mirror counterparts.


Classic black and gold for this classic group two BMW


Double line patch masking




fake copper rat look stripe with design all in paint


All paint no bare metal


not strictly striping but ghosted design that can be placed in to a stripe