Canvas drop cloths:

These are the choice of professionals because they are durable and thick enough to absorb paint drips. Some canvas drop cloths come with a rubberized butyl backing, which grips the floor and keeps paint spills from soaking through the cloth. They are virtually indestructible; buy them once, and they’ll last for many years.

Good thing, because they’re the most expensive drop cloth available. Canvas drop cloths come in different weights–the heavier, the better. Prices for a 9-by-12-foot cloth range from $15 for a 6-ounce canvas to about $30 for a 12-ounce canvas.

If you’re a messy painter, the heavier canvas will offer extra absorbency. It’s also woven more tightly so it’s more resistant to tearing. On the other hand, it’s heavier and bulkier to store and tote around.

Plastic painter drop cloths

These are available in a wide range of thicknesses, from .4 mill to 4 mill. Most jobs require a .6- to 1-mill plastic drop cloth ($1 for 9×12-feet): It’s about the thickness of a trash bag.

Paint-proof and economical, lightweight plastic drop cloths are good furniture and cabinet covers. Heavy-duty plastic is resistant to rips and can be reused.

Since plastic painters’ drop cloths are not absorbent, paint spills can run. And if you step in any spilled paint, it’s going with you.

Use plastic drop cloths when painting outside to protect lawns and landscaping.

Paper drop cloths ($3 to $5):

These are an inexpensive way to cover furniture or windows for small, indoor jobs, such as touching up window trim. They’re absorbent and textured to hold paint. When you’re finished, you can just fold them up and throw them away.

Paper painters’ drop cloths, however, are not the best option for floors because they rip easily.

Paper/poly drop cloths:

These are the best of both paper and plastic–they’re low-cost and disposable. They absorb paint drips while providing more protection for what’s underneath. They also provide some protection from slipping.

You can cut paper/poly drop cloths to fit the space. The drawback is that, like paper, these drop cloths tear. Tape edges to keep them from wandering.

Laying drop cloths

Vacuum floors before you spread drop cloths to prevent dirt and debris from becoming trapped underneath and scratching flooring. Plastic and paper drop cloths tend to slide when you walk on them, so tape edges to the floor. Use quick-release painter’s tape so you can safely paint down to the floor line. To make sure painters’ drop cloths stay draped over furniture, secure with masking tape.

Storing drop cloths

Wait for the paint to dry on canvas or plastic drop cloths, fold and store in a clean, dry space.

When they get filthy, wash canvas drop cloths in cold water. Let air dry.

About the Author

Pat Curry is a Georgia-based freelance writer with more than a decade of experience writing about housing and real estate, most recently as a contributing editor to Professional Builder and Professional Remodeler magazines.

Source: Visit for more articles like this. Reprinted from with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.

9 Responses to “Painters’ drop cloths: protect what you’re not painting”

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