Do you have a room you’ve been planning to repaint? Ugly wallpaper that needs covering up? When considering your next paint job, take advice from professional painters: use a drop cloth.

But what kind of drop cloth?  Pro painters suggest using one of these four cover materials to spread over your floor and furniture to protect them from paint damage.

Canvas – This might be the most popular option when painting thanks the the material’s thick and durable qualities. These covers will last through more than one paint job, so after you’re done, you can roll and store. Spill a bit of paint? Don’t worry, canvas will absorb the paint so it doesn’t stain your floors.

Plastic – Plastic covers offer a variety of thicknesses from .4 mill to 4 mill. The most common thickness of a plastic drop cloth for painting is about .6-1 mill, or approximately the thickness of a trash bag. These cloths are best for covering furniture and cabinetry, and are also popularly used to protect lawns and landscaping in outdoor painting. Unlike canvas cloths, plastic is not absorptive so paint spills will run.

Paper/Poly – These drop cloths combine both paper and poly materials for an inexpensive and disposable covering option. While adding some protection against slipping, these cloths absorb paint drips and protect your furniture and floors. Helpful tip: these cloths rip easily, so try taping down the edges to prevent unnecessary damage.

Paper – Used in smaller, indoor jobs, paper drop cloths are a cost conscious option for covering windows and furniture. These cloths rip easily, so best not to used them to protect floors in larger paint jobs. After you’re finished, just fold up the used paper and throw it away.

More helpful tips for using drop cloths:

  • Tape edges of plastic and paper cloths down to prevent sliding
  • Use quick-release painter’s tape so you can safely paint down to your floor line
  • Make sure to sweep and/0r vacuum floors before laying cloths down so dirt and debris stuck underneath don’t cause damage
  • When covering furniture, use masking tape to secure cloths