Generally we think of a painter’s drop cloth as a covering to protect underlying surfaces from paint drips and spatters…however it is also somewhat important that any covering used to protect a floor, stairway, or sidewalk offer “absorbent properties” as well as “barrier protection”. Because of the fact that any paint spattering that does occur will remain wet on the drop cloth for some time while the painters are still working, it will get stepped on by the workers and paint can thus be tracked along to the unprotected floors of adjacent rooms and hallways. An absorbent drop cloth helps prevent some of this tracking
Drop cloths come in a variety of sizes and thicknesses and
9’ by 12’ is the most common size.
Some Other Available sizes:
12’ by 15’ we don’t recommend this size for most jobs unless you will be working in large empty rooms
Long narrow drop cloths are called runners
Runners are good on stairs, hallways, walls when ceiling are not
being done, and fitting between areas when furniture is left in a room
These small drop cloths are very handy on most all jobs. They are very easy to handle, they can be used on counter tops, tables, easily fitting between areas when furniture is left in a room. We recommend having several of these on most jobs.
Paper / Polyethylene
Disposable drop cloths may be a paper / polyethylene composite to provide an absorbent, leak proof and lightweight covering, which probably cost about 1/3 that of a canvas cloth.
The paper used on this type of cloth is actually cottony soft.
Even though they are disposable they can often be used several times before disposing. These “paper/ plastic composite” drop cloths generally work quite well on interior jobs, but because they are so light; if they are used outdoors… they will usually have to be held in place by weights such as rocks or wooden blocks to keep them from being blown out of place by everyday wind.
Another disposable drop cloths are actually thin sheets of plastic. They are very good for covering furniture, cabinets, and appliances. These plastic covers can be easily cut with scissors. They can also be taped onto walls to protect wood paneling or wallpaper when painting ceilings. The plastic covers are available in 9’ by 12’ sizes, which are found folded into a small package at the store. There thickness ranges from bout 0.4 mil very light to 2mil heavy duty although we have seen them in the stores as thick as 4 mil which is about the thickness of an outdoor tarp. We recommend buying several of the light-medium duty 0.6 mil to 1mil “(9ft. by 12ft.) covers” before starting your next interior paint job. Note: 1 mill is about the thickness of a household trash bag
Plastic drop cloths have no absorbent properties, and can be slippery or bunch up when walked on so they are not recommended for floors.
These plastic covers are difficult to use outside, because even the lightest breeze will put them out of place
Some contractors prefer to get their plastic in rolls. The plastic in the rolls may be 8, 9, 10 or 12 ft. wide & several hundred ft. The plastic in the roll is folded before it is rolled so that the roll core is only about 2-3 ft long for easier portability.
Another option for drop cloths is Kraft paper. Kraft paper is somewhat similar to standard shopping bag paper. It will not have the absorbency of a canvas or composite cloth but it has its uses. This paper can easily be laid out cut and taped to get an exact fit. It can be handy to slide under doors to protect the floor…where as the prior mentioned drop cloths would catch on the bottom of the door every time the door is swung open or closed.
Kraft paper drop cloths are available in 9' * 12' sizes
Kraft paper is also available in rolls.
Painters will sometimes buy a large roll of Kraft paper 2’, 3’, or 4' wide by several hundred ft long.
The thickness of Kraft paper is usually rated in “pounds”
(“lb.”)… No matter what the size of roll or sheet, or how much it
actually weighs… it can still be rated as 40lb. 50 lb. 60 lb … or what
ever other thickness it is… in “lb”.
The lb. (pound) rating of Kraft paper is actually the basic weight of the Kraft paper material in a ream of 500 (24inch *36inch) sheets
When buying Kraft paper to cover floors it is recommended that you get a heavy-duty paper (50 lb or heavier), as the light duty tends to tear and slide when walked on, easily causing people to slip and fall