Surface Strength of Fine Art Papers - Tape Pick Test

Tape Pick TestDrawing and painting papers need to have excellent surface strength. That is what distinguishes fine art papers from other papers. For drawing surfaces, the surface needs to have enough strength so that the paper fibers do not break down during erasing, layering, blending, etc.


There is a simple test that you can use to compare the surface strength of papers. We call it a “tape pick test.” You will need standard household transparent tape such as Scotch Magic Transparent tape and a dark paper or surface.

 1. Apply two 6-inch strips of tape on the front side of the paper surface, one in a vertical direction and one in a horizontal direction on the page. Fold over the last ½" of the tape, creating a tab for removing the tape.

 2.Rub the tape several times using a fair amount of pressure to the entire area.

 3.Outline the tape area with a soft pencil (but avoid marking the tape since that will produce extra pressure in the “test area”).

 4.Allow the tape to sit for 5 minutes.

 5.Hold the paper flat against the table and remove the tape slowly by peeling the tab back parallel to the surface.

 6.Place the tape on a dark paper or surface. Examine it to see if fibers lifted onto the tape. Examine the area you outlined on the sheet looking for surface damage.


For highest quality of surfaces, the tape should lift no fibers and the paper surfaces should not be disrupted by the tape.

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