While many people will spend hours selecting wall colors or choosing the perfect paint, few stop to consider how they'll protect their floors and furnishings while they work. For most homeowners, drop cloths are an afterthought, with newspaper and paper covers often being draped over furniture at the last minute. As much as many homeowners spend on expensive couches and hardwood floors these days, a drop cloth is a must-have for painters. To fully protect your property, consider the different types of drop cloths that are available and decide which will work best for your painting project.
Most home improvement stores sell cheap, paper drop cloths, which often seem like a good idea for novice painters. While these work well to protect furniture and floors, they can't stand up to prickly bushes and other outdoor uses. They're often good for only one use, making them a poor choice for eco-conscious consumers. Some versions come with a vinyl or plastic backing layer, which may allow for more than one use, but doesn't necessarily make them any stronger [source: Carter].
Plastic drop cloths are a good mid-range option, and are one of the easiest and most flexible ways to cover furniture and windows. They're considered a poor choice for protecting floors, however, because they're quite slippery and tend to move around, leaving your floor exposed to paint stains. Plastic drop cloths are also fairly thin and lightweight, making them difficult to use outdoors [source: Carter].
Professional painters tend to rely on drop cloths made from canvas. These cloths can be washed and reused again and again, making them an environmentally friendly choice. They're strong and heavy enough to use outdoors without being damaged, and those with a PVC or vinyl backing will stay put even on slippery floors.
Even with careful efforts, most homeowners are surprised by how far paint splatters as they work. Invest in a proper drop cloth and protect your décor.
Read on to the next section to learn how using primer can help you dramatically improve the results of your next paint job.