Blog / The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Best Drop Cloth for Painting

January 26, 2023

What is a drop cloth used for?

Lots of things! Although traditionally used to protect floor, stairs and furniture during a painting project drop cloths can actually be used for a variety of other things including dust protection, moving blankets and fun DIY projects!

When used with various masking materials and painter’s tape, drop cloths provide total surface protection for any size pant job.

What is the difference between a tarp and a drop cloth?

Drop cloths come in different weights and materials ranging from canvas, plastic and vinyl. Tarps are a water-resistant plastic material used to protect people and surfaces from outdoor elements, protect partially built or damaged structures and can even be used as a temporary surface protector during construction or painting.

Although they can be used during a painting project, they do not offer slip-resistant or absorbent qualities many professional drop cloths offer.

Understand your options. How to choose the right drop cloth

When it comes to picking the right drop cloth for your job, there are a few considerations to be made. Not to mention the selection of options has exponentially grown and can sometimes be a bit overwhelming.

We’ve put together a list of a few qualities to consider when choosing the best drop cloth.

Dimensions Matter

Where will you be using your drop cloth? A large room? Stairs? Hallways? When picking a drop cloth, narrow down your options by first determining its placement. Common sizes for large areas include 9’ x 12’ and 12’ x 15’. For smaller spaces or touch ups a 6’ x 9’ or 4’ x 5’ options may be available. For stairs and hallways runners are a great solution and typically come in 4’ x 12’ or 4’ x 15’ sizes.

fabric drop cloth

Choosing the right material

The drop cloth industry has evolved into much more than just canvas and plastic. Depending on what surfaces you’ll be protecting and what you’re protecting it from (dust, paint, stain) will help you determine which material best fits your job’s needs.

  • Canvas: The tried and true. Canvas is great for light paint work on surfaces that are not slippery and don’t need traction to keep the drop cloth in place, such as carpets.
  • Butyl: Butyl is a leak-resistant, heavy weight option that can feature a slip resistant backing. Butyl drop cloths are great for stairs, hardwoods, tile and other hard surfaces.
  • Fabric: Fabric drops are a favorite in the DIY space. They are economical, disposable after a few uses and great for light paint work!
  • Plastic & Vinyl: Plastic and Vinyl drops have the least amount of slip resistant and leak protection. Ideally these drops can be used under a heavier option, or are great for covering furniture and shrubbery.

Consider the Weight

Canvas drops are available traditionally in 4 different weights: 6oz, 8oz, 10oz and 12oz.

6 oz drops are light and great for covering furniture, shrubs, DIY projects and dust protection. 8oz and 10oz canvas drop cloths are the contractors favorite. Strong enough to prevent tracking, but light enough to easily handle. The heaviest option, the 12oz drop is super absorbent and provides some cushion to prevent dings and dents.

non slip drop cloth

Special Features

Looking to upgrade your drop cloth? Leak resistance and slip resistance are two special features most premium drops feature.

  • Leak Resistance: Spills happen, and it’s important to protect your surface underneath to harmful paints and stains. Leak-resistant PE films are added to speciality drops to provide this protection and reduce the risk of any liquids seeping through.
  • Slip Resistance: Safety is more important than ever on the job, and slips and falls happen all too frequently. Designed with grippy backings, slip resistant drop cloths stay put where you place them. Trimaco has even added orange thread to help identify which drop cloths are safe to walk on and provide slip resistant protection!

Putting It All Together: Making the Best Choice for Your Project

Choosing a drop cloth doesn’t have to be difficult. When determining the right drop cloth for painting, consider the size, material, weight and special features. Trimaco offers a full line of drops to fit your job’s needs. Explore our full catalog today!



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