Drop Sheets: A DIY Project’s Best Friend

Drop sheets are such an important part of a home DIY project!  We recommend always using drop sheets during your projects to keep the rest of your home and furniture free from paint and dust.  We’re here to give you a rundown of the two most common types of drop cloths - canvas and plastic - and when to use each one.

What is a drop sheet?

Drop sheets, or drop cloths, are a protective covering used in a renovation or DIY project to protect furnishings, floorings and other objects from paint splatterings and dust. They are also a great tool used to restrict renovation messes to the DIY area, and make for an easier clean up once the project is completed.

What type of drop sheet is best for me?

The two most commonly sold types of drop sheets sold are made of canvas or plastic.  Both types of drop sheets have their pros and cons, and are most effective in different situations.

Plastic Drop Sheets

PROS:

Cost - plastic drop sheets are a popular choice due to their attractive price. We sell our Spitfire Plastic Protective Covering for just $2.76 online – check it out here!
Lightweight and smaller - plastic drop sheets are lightweight, making them easier to move around. They also fold up to be much smaller making them easier to store if you want to use them a second time.
Waterproof – plastic drop sheets are waterproof, so unless damaged it is very unlikely that any spilt paint will get through your preventative measures

CONS:

Easily Damaged – plastic drop sheets can be easily damaged, making them less effective. The plastic material of the sheets make cuts, tears, holes and punctures more likely.
Not absorbent – plastic drop sheets are effective in catching any spilt paint, however the plastic material is not absorbent. This means that any spilt paint on the plastic drop sheets will sit on the plastic and pool causing potential slip hazards, or can create a messy situations if wet paint is trekked through a home.
One or two uses – plastic drop sheets are most effective for a one time use, however you can probably get away with a handful of reuses. The more the drop sheets are reused, the higher the chances of being damaged and therefore not being effective.

Care & Storage:

While designed for one or two uses, plastic drop sheets can be reused a handful of times however it is important to be mindful of a few important care steps to prevent damages:

- Make sure any spilt paint that in on the drop sheet is completely dry before folding up to store. If the paint is not properly dried, it will stick and potentially rip when being pulled apart for use next time.
- Plastic drop sheets are lightweight and easy to store, but make sure it is stored away from any potential hazards in the garage or shed – nails, hammers, scissors, etc – anything that can cause a hole or puncture.

Canvas Drop Sheets

PROS:

Absorbent – canvas drop sheets are effective in absorbing paint due to the type of weave used to create the cloth. The weave will “hold” any spilt paint, absorbing into the canvas as opposed to pooling.
Sizing availability – canvas drop sheets are typically available in a variety of sizes, grades and thickness; so you can make sure you are purchasing the size and grade of drop sheet that is appropriate to your job. Check out our range of Maverick Canvas Drop Sheets here!
Less chance of messes or hazards – due to the absorbency of the canvas drop sheets which soak up the paint rather than pooling, this allows for an easier clean-up, less mess and less chance for people to slip on wet paint
Reusable – canvas drop sheets are designed to be reused over and over. Their durability and absorbency allows the drop cloths to be reused several times over, making them a great investment for someone who is frequently renovating or completing DIY projects.
Durable – canvas drop sheets are incredibly durable, withstanding lots of wear and tear while still being effective. The canvas material of these drop sheets are unlikely to be torn, ripped, or punctured.

CONS:

Cost – if you are only looking to use a drop sheet once, then the higher price point of the canvas drop sheets is definitely going to be a deterrent. However, the higher price point is quite justifiable if you are completing several DIY projects and will have the need to reuse a drop sheet
Heavy and bulky – the canvas material can be heavy to carry and bulky to store after use, so is not always practical to store after
Not waterproof – there are some canvas or material drop sheets available in the market that claim to provide an absorbent sheet at a very cheap price. Unfortunately, the reduced price point can also man a reduced quality, and the material drop sheet is not waterproof or absorbent and can mean that paint spills can seep through the fabric.*

* Note – our range of Maverick Canvas Drop Sheets have withstood several quality tests and prove to be one of the most absorbent canvas drop sheets available.

Care & Storage:

Canvas drop sheets are designed to be used multiple times and are easily cared for:

- Canvas drop sheets do not need to be washed. Simply let them dry, fold them up and store away for next time.
- If you do decide you would like to clean your drop sheets, simply hose down after use and let air dry (we recommend hanging over to clothes line to allow for easy hosing and quick and easy drying!)
- STORAGE HINT: if possible, store your canvas drop sheet in a garbage bag in your shed or garage.  This will prevent the drop sheet from collecting dust during storage.

Can I use an old bedsheet instead of a canvas drop sheet?

Often, DIY-ers will forgo purchasing a drop sheet in favour of using an old bedsheet to protect their flooring and furnishings. We do not recommend using old linen for a few reasons:

Linen is not designed to absorb paint - it is too thin and not designed with the same weave as what canvas drop sheet are.
Ask yourself why your linen is being retired from use – is it holey, worn thin, torn? These are all factors that will contribute to them being even more ineffective!
If cost is a factor, consider purchasing a plastic drop sheet! Attempting to save costs by using old linen will likely cost you more money down the track.

In summary:

Canvas and plastic drop sheets are both effective in their own ways for DIY painting projects:

Plastic drop sheets are best used for:

- Covering furniture and bedding to protect from paint and dust
- Securing to benchtops, window panes, cabinets, furniture, etc with painters tape to prevent any paint from seeping between the drop sheet and the items you are trying to protect
- Outdoor use – example, when oiling your deck, place the drop sheet under the deck to catch any dripping oil from being spread over any plants or items stored under the deck (note – make sure it is weighted!)
- When you are only completing a small or one-time DIY project and have no need to reuse the drop sheet
- BONUS USE: when you have finished with the drop sheet for your home DIY project, instead of throwing away (note the plastic cannot be recycled if it has paint on it), keep the sheet and use as a protective covering for kids art projects!

Canvas drop sheets are best used for:

- Covering flooring to absorb paint spills to reduce paint from being spread through the DIY area
- Draping over furniture to absorb errant paint spills
- Someone who is looking to complete several DIY projects
- BONUS USE: due to the durability of the canvas drop sheets, they also come in handy and are great to use when moving house!

Why not use both?!

Some professional painters opt to use both at the same time. They will often lay the plastic drop sheets on the floor or furniture to take advantage of their compete waterproofness, but will then lay a canvas drop sheet on top to make most use of their ability to soak up the paint.  This gives us the best of both worlds – the chance of paint seeping or spilling onto floorings or furnishings, being trekked through the workspace or causing a slip hazard is virtually impossible.

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