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How To Use The Right Painters Drop Cloth For Best Results

painters drop cloth

Whenever you’re going to be doing any painting, one of the things to be most concerned about is keeping everything you own looking good. Which is why a painters drop cloth is extremely important.

It protects your belongings and the areas of your home that you don’t want new paint on.

A painters drop cloth is simply a piece of fabric – usually made of canvas – that you use to protect things from paint or debris.

They are the perfect accessory for any painting job and will allow you to choose what gets a new coat of paint – and what doesn’t!

There are a few kinds of drop cloths available for you to utilize in your next painting excursion. These include canvas, paper, polymer, and plastic.

While there are clever tips you can utilize – like lining your floors with cardboard – in this guide, we’ll be going over the different kinds of drop cloths and their various uses. Let’s get into it.

Canvas Painters Drop Cloths

Canvas drop cloths are highly absorbent and thick… Cotton canvas is one of the sturdiest fabrics on the market thanks to its tightly woven fibers. This makes it an ideal pick for painters as it is resistant to tearing.

This means that people can walk around on it, you can scoot ladders around, and drag heavy paint cans  without worrying about it tearing underneath the weight or friction.

It can also cover a very wide surface, and when you spill paint on it, you won’t need to worry about whether or not you’ll be taking any paint droplets with you.

Most canvas will simply absorb any paint spills.

You can use canvas drop cloths again and again. They will rarely lose strength or durability over time, making them ideal for serious painters who want a drop cloth that will always retain its efficacy.

However, this also means that they can be pretty expensive. If you are hunting for a drop cloth that you will only use once, canvas might not make the most sense for you.

Paper/Poly Drop Cloths

painters drop cloth

Paper and poly drop cloths are ideal for small painting jobs. They are thin and can be torn easily, so they’re not the best for large-scale gigs.

Walking or leaning or applying even the slightest bit of pressure to them might cause them to rip. This might expose surfaces to paint droplets when you’d rather not have paint on them.

Poly drop cloths can be a bit stronger, but they still aren’t worth holding onto between jobs.

Even if you don’t tear open a paper or poly drop cloth on its first use, any paint you get on them will harden as it dries.

This will cause the drop cloth to stiffen up and make it even more prone to breakage. Due to these characteristics they are typically lower in cost than canvas drop cloths. 

They can be a good happy medium if you don’t frequently paint and only need the drop cloth in the moment.

Plastic Drop Cloths

Plastic drop cloths are easy to lay out and align to most surfaces. They are also strong enough to be used multiple times.

However, there is one drawback to making use of a plastic drop cloth, and that is that they have no absorbency. Any paint spilled will run, pool, or puddle on top of them.

So, you’ll need to be extra careful when cleaning up to ensure any spilled paint doesn’t go where it’s not supposed to.

You’ll also want to be cautious when walking over plastic drop cloths if they are laid on your floor, as it’s easy to tread on a paint puddle and then track that paint somewhere else.

Additionally, if the paint dries on the plastic drop cloth and hardens, it could crack off into tiny paint chips that will end up everywhere.

Overall, plastic drop cloths can get the job done at a reasonable price, but doesn’t take away all the worry of a mess.

So, What Kind Of Painters Drop Cloth Should I Use?

While it’s entirely up to you, the answer to this question depends on your circumstances. If you’re the type to redecorate or repaint every couple of years, then there is no going wrong with a canvas drop cloth.

While they are the most expensive, they will last you a lifetime.

If you’re just engaging in a one-time job repainting your windowsill or something small like that, then a paper drop cloth is probably preferable.

They are easy to lay down and simple enough to maneuver. Setting up a canvas drop cloth for a small job can be a hassle, and a paper backdrop means you’ll have no trouble setting up your area for your painting job.

Plastic drop cloths are ideal for painting a large area, but only one or two times. They are easy to lay out and can cover a wide surface. They are also relatively cheap and easy to store.

However, they do have a few drawbacks that we mentioned earlier.

Maintaining And Storing A Painters Drop Cloth

Different kinds of painters drop cloths need different levels of management.

A canvas drop cloth is the only kind that will require serious maintenance, as this is the only kind that is likely to last you a long time.

To properly take care of a canvas drop cloth, you’ll want to let any spilled paint dry, beat any dried or caked-on paint puddles out of it, then wash it in a washing machine or at the dry cleaner’s.

Generally, you’ll want to let the canvas air dry, as machine drying can sometimes be a little rough on canvas.

Plus, once canvas tears, it is much more prone to more damage, so your goal should be to keep it as spotless as possible for as long as possible.

There isn’t any maintaining a paper drop cloth, as once you spill paint on it, it’s pretty much ruined. Paper drop cloths are disposable.

You’re supposed to use them once and then toss them. Plastic drop cloths can be reused without much attention. Just shake off any paint into the trash, fold them up, and you’ll be good to go.

Do I Really Need A Painters Drop Cloth?

Only you can answer this question. If you have enormous faith in yourself when painting, you might not need one. However, as a general rule, we think it’s best to err on the safe side.

While you might not need an enormous canvas cloth to cover your entire floor, laying down some newspaper or another protective surface never hurts.

Even if you don’t spill anything there is still the opportunity for splatter off a roller, which you may not realize until it’s too late.

The problem with improvised drop cloths is they often aren’t very resistant to paint.

That newspaper?

It probably won’t do much to protect your hardwood from spilled fuchsia paint. So, our advice would be to err on the safe side and get a real drop cloth to keep your home safe from paint stains.

About Savannah Phillips

Savannah Phillips is an NCIDQ certified Interior Designer with a Bachelors of Science in Interior Design from Illinois State University. She is skilled in Space Planning, Furniture Layouts, Material and Finish Selection and FF&E Procurement.

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