Protect floors, walls and other surfaces from paint drips and spills
If you’ve ever done any painting before, you know it’s virtually impossible to
avoid a few drips and splatters. Occasionally, those drips and splatters can
become a flood in cases where an entire can of paint is accidentally
overturned or tipped. Fortunately, there is a way to avoid splattering or
spilling paint all over your beautiful hardwood floors or favorite bookcase.
Drop cloths and tarps provide protection for a variety of painting and sanding
tasks, whether you’re repainting your entire house inside and out, touching up
a wall or redoing the ceiling of your porch. Prior to beginning your next
paint project, take a look at the available coverings and protective
solutions, and keep the following questions in mind as you learn more about
Drop Cloths, Tarps and Applications
One of the first decisions you’ll need to make when searching for paint protection is just how much painting you plan to do and where you’ll be doing it. Cloths and tarps can be made from different materials, each of which is better suited for certain situations than others. Some are disposable, making them ideal for quick, one-shot jobs while others will last for years, a perfect solution if you find yourself constantly touching up spots around the house. Outdoor jobs will require stronger, more durable materials. Use drop cloths and tarps to protect walls, floors, furniture, sidewalks and any other exposed area. Nonabsorbent cloths and tarps will need to be handled carefully during cleanup to avoid spilling drops of paint onto the floors you’ve worked so hard to keep clean. Keep in mind that in addition to painting, tarps and drop cloths can be helpful in a number of other situations.
Drop Cloths and Plastic Sheeting: Drop cloths can be made from a range of materials, including canvas, plastic, paper and paper/poly. Plastic drop cloths are often referred to as plastic sheeting. Canvas is a woven fabric that’s lightweight but durable and is often used by professional painters. Plastic sheeting is easy to tape to walls to cover paintings and other items you need to keep clean. Which material you choose depends on whether or not you want to be able to reuse the cloth and whether you’re working indoors or out. The chart below details some of the benefits and points to consider for each type of material.
|Material||Benefits||Points to Consider|
Tarps: Tarps are often constructed from heavy-gauge polyethylene and are both waterproof and weather-resistant. They generally feature grommets around the edges, which are little holes through which you can tie ropes or bungee cords to make using tarps for transporting items easier. Grommets also allow you to tie tarps to deck posts or patio furniture to avoid the wind picking them up and carrying them away when you’re painting outside. If a tarp is made from canvas, look for double stitching at the hem and seams to ensure durability. Tarps can range from fairly small (6’ x 8’) to large (20’ x 30’). Disposable plastic tarps cost less than reusable canvas tarps, but reusable tarps can come in handy for such a wide range of applications that it may make sense to spend a little extra money. Reinforced plastic tarps combine the impermeability of disposable plastic with the durability of canvas.
Other Applications: Protecting floors and furniture from paint spatters
is far from the only helpful role drop cloths and tarps can play in your life.
Heavy-duty plastic sheeting and tarps can be used to cover and protect lawn
mowers, snow blowers, lawn care products and more. Large, extra-heavy plastic
sheeting can be used to cover boats and trailers and for a variety of
construction and landscaping applications. Mesh tarps can be used in
situations where you need to provide equal amounts of shade and airflow and
aren’t worried about waterproofing. Use tarps to keep firewood dry or even
create canopies if bad weather strikes on the day you’re planning to host a
big backyard barbecue. They’re also indispensable when it comes to yard work,
enabling you to haul leaves and grass clippings out of your yard with ease.
Water Resistance: While many drop cloth and tarp materials provide natural resistance to water, canvas may not. If you plan to use a canvas cloth outdoors or in conditions that may cause it to get wet, look for one that’s treated to resist water. This treatment will also protect it from mildew and rot.
Flame Resistance: Canvas treated with flame-retardant chemicals gives you the ability to use it in situations where it might otherwise create a fire hazard. Fire-treated canvas can be used as a canopy in areas where there are strict fire regulations, such as local fairs.
Rags: For small jobs, rags provide the perfect complement to a drop cloth or canvas. Absorbent rags make it easy to wipe up drops of paint that somehow manage to evade the protection you’ve carefully laid down.
Butyl Backing: If you purchase a canvas drop cloth, look for one with butyl backing. This rubberized coating serves two important purposes. First, it makes the canvas nearly impenetrable, no matter how much paint gets spilled on it. Second, they minimize the chances of the drop cloth slipping out from underneath you when you’re working on a smooth hardwood floor or carpeted stairs.
Pretaped Plastic Drop Cloths: If you want to save a few extra minutes, pick up some pretaped plastic drop cloths. Available in various lengths and widths, these handy cloths feature blue painter’s tape on the edge and roll dispensers that allow you to stick them to the wall in a matter of seconds.
Painter’s tape will help you secure plastic sheeting to walls to keep them clean.
Ropes and bungee cords will come in handy for securing tarps on windy days.