Drop Cloth vs. Newspaper

If you're considering a do-it-yourself paint job, you're going to need to invest in some tools of the trade. Besides choosing the right paint, paintbrushes, and rollers, you will need some basic supplies such as a measuring tape, masking tape, cleaning materials, rags, protective clothing, and protective coverings for your furnishings, floors, and any other surfaces or objects that remain in the room you are painting, but which you don't intend to paint. One of the most important aspects of a painting job is "preparing a room," which begins long before you pick up a paintbrush and includes shielding your floors and furnishings from paint spills. The question is: Should you invest in a professional canvass drop cloth (or painting tarp) or will a plastic sheet or newspapers suffice?

Purpose of a Drop Cloth/Paint Tarp

When you are completing a painting job, the last thing you want to discover as you apply that final coat of paint and pat yourself on the back for a job well done is that paint has splattered and dried on your carpets, rugs, hardwood floors, or tiles. In addition to paint spills, all kinds of debris end up on the floor during a painting task, such as old drywall, peeling and chipped plaster, dust, sandpaper grains, caulking materials, rags, cleaning agents, water, and more. If you don't want a massive mess to clean up after your home painting job, cover your floors and room furnishings with a professional tarp or drop cloth, which won't cost you much more than $30. Not only are drop cloths especially designed to keep paint from seeping through, but they can be used over and over again, making drop cloths a wise and practical long-term investment.

Plastic Drop Sheets vs. Canvass Drop Cloths

Plastic drop sheets are an economic alternative to more durable canvass drop sheets. They are readily available and will likely do a decent job protecting your floors from paint spills, splashes, and splatters. The question, again, is: Is "good" good enough for you? The downside of plastic sheets is that they move easily, are slippery, and are more likely to sustain hole-punctures. To make your decision, consider the magnitude of your project, the room you are painting, the value the room's furnishings, and the presence of children who may slip or cause a plastic sheet to move more easily than a professional tarp.

Newspaper vs. Professional Drop Cloths

There is no doubt about it: Newspapers have long been used by amateur painters as a floor covering for the following advantageous reasons:

•- Cheap (especially if you subscribe to a daily newspaper anyway)

•- Can be 'borrowed' at no cost from family and friends

•- Are easily disposed when the job is done

•- Can be layered for better protection

However, as the age-old adage goes: You get what you pay for. Here are some of the disadvantages of using newspapers as a floor covering:

•- Leave ink stains on your floors and carpets

•- Leave ink stains on your hands, which can rub off onto your fresh paint

•- Likely to cause dirty footprints

•- Even when layered, heavy paint spills will likely leak through, defeating the very purpose of the spread newspapers

Conversely, here are some of the benefits of drop cloths:

•- Clean

•- Can be used over and over again

•- You pay according to the drop cloth thickness but still at affordable rates

•- Can be used to cover floors as well as furnishings

•- Available in large sheets to cover large areas or an entire room

So when it comes time to prepare a room for painting, ask yourself if adequate floor and furnishing protection is sufficient for your needs, or if it's worth your while to pay a little more but get the best for your buck and invest in a long-term solution such as a professional drop cloth or painting tarp.