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Canvas Dropcloth

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Essential Painting Supplies: Canvas Dropcloth
Canvas Dropcloth
(c) Lee Wallender; Licensed to About.com
For the longest time, I resisted buying a canvas dropcloth. They were expensive. Why buy a canvas dropcloth when a $1.50 1 mil plastic dropcloth would suffice?

That was part of the problem: plastic dropcloths do not suffice. Also, I did not understand how dropcloths have different functions.

What is a Canvas Dropcloth?

A canvas dropcloth is used by painters to spread on horizontal surfaces (mainly floors), to protect those surfaces from errant paints and stains. Often, these dropcloths are specially sized to fit those areas--one popular size is four feet wide by fifteen feet long. This long-and-narrow configuration is perfect for catching drips at the base of walls.

Tip: Should You Never Buy a Plastic Dropcloth?
Plastic dropcloths have their place--but this place does not include under foot. Plastic dropcloths are good for one-use applications when covering sofas, tables, shrubbery.

Compare Prices: Canvas Dropcloths

3 Reasons You Need a Canvas Dropcloth

I highly recommend buying a real cloth dropcloth if you intend to paint more than one interior room or if you are painting your exterior. Here's why:
  1. Longevity. You can use canvas dropcloths repeatedly. The paint will soak into the cloth and then dry, leaving it ready for your next painting session.
  2. Grip. You can walk on these dropcloths without slipping.
  3. Ease of Roll-Out. Plastic dropcloths are thin and difficult to spread out properly. The thinner, the worse. But a canvas dropcloth can be folded out or rolled out with ease.

What Kind of Dropcloth to Buy?

Look for two things when shopping for canvas dropcloths: weight and size.

Weights of canvas dropcloths are expressed in ounces per square yard. Thus, if you purchase a 10 oz. dropcloth that has 3' x 9' dimension, this does not mean that the entire dropcloth weighs 10 oz. It means that every square yard is ten ounces; or, the entire cloth would weigh 30 ounces. You will mainly find canvas dropcloths in 8 oz. and 10 oz. weights in home improvement stores. Remember: heavier is great, but it also means harder to handle.

As for sizing, determine your needs. If you are painting a ceiling, you need 9' x 12' or larger cloths. For walls, those aforementioned 4' x 15' dropcloths are perfect.

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