12 Tips for Using a Drop Cloth While Painting

paint supplies on a drop cloth

Using a drop cloth when painting can come in handy and is highly recommended by paint professionals for keeping floors and furnishings from getting ruined.


While there are several types of drop cloths such as paper, plastic, and cloth, in general, most drop cloths will do the trick. Drop cloths can be bought at home improvement and paint stores and range in price.

Dress Accordingly

Wear appropriate safety goggles and clothing when painting and/or masks to protect yourself from inhaling fumes.

Here are 12 tips as to why you might want to use a drop cloth for your next paint project.

Tip #1: Use Cloth

Try a heavier style of drop cloth, perhaps one made from a sturdier fabric like a canvas that usually has a stronger weave to protect flooring and furniture.

Tip #2: Pick Up

Be sure to vacuum up any debris or loose items from a wood floor that could scratch it once a drop cloth is placed over the flooring.

Tip #3: Do Fold

If the drop cloth is larger in square footage compared to your room that is to be painted, fold the drop cloth to fit rather than cut it.

Tip #4: Avoid Frays

Cutting a drop cloth, especially canvas or fabric can fray the ends which you could possibly trip over if they unravel.

Tip #5: Be Careful

Remember that a plastic drop cloth can be slippery, so wear rubber sole shoes so you do not slip while walking on the plastic drop cloth surface.

Tip #6: Good for Washing

A cotton or fabric drop cloth can be washed whereas a plastic drop cloth cannot. Most plastic drop cloths only last one or two times before having to be tossed out.

Tip #7: Tape It

Always tape down the edges of the drop cloth regardless of which style you use, for the paint may sneak through the edges and leave a mess. When taping down drop cloths be sure the adhesive is appropriate so if it does adhere itself to walls and furniture it doesn’t ruin the items when the tape is removed.

Tip #8: Tack Down

You can also use tacks or small nails to tack the drop cloth around the trim and borders of the room to protect them from getting paint on them.

Tip #9: Double Layers

If you use a plastic drop cloth, be sure to at least place old newspapers or an old sheet under the plastic as an extra layer to protect the carpet and flooring.

Tip #10: Covering Furniture

For protecting furniture it is better to use heavy drop cloths that won’t tear or leak through and onto fabrics or pillows. Be sure to tie down canvas drop cloths with twine or ropes around the furniture to avoid any slippage.

Tip #11: Ceiling Coverage

If you are painting ceilings, be sure to remove all of the wall art, drapes, curtains, and blinds from the room to avoid paint spills or damage.

Tip #12: Outside Options

You can use a plastic tarp/drop cloth for outside painting; these are also used for covering boats, cars, and outdoor furniture. They tend to be inexpensive and are resistant to oil and the elements outdoors.