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For painting work I usually protect the floor using big sheets (like 4 x 4 meters) of transparent plastic sold in Asda that I spread around the room.

However it can move a lot while I walk on it and then there are spaces left exposed. Also it's not very flat.

Ideally I'd like something which covers 100% of the floor 100% of the time while being as flat as possible. Is there such a solution?

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old newspapers and masking tape – ratchet freak Dec 3 '13 at 11:03
Have you tried taping the joints of the plastic sheets to form one large sheet? – Tester101 Dec 3 '13 at 12:36
up vote 7 down vote accepted

Drop Cloths

The most common solution, is to use canvas drop cloths. This has been the choice of the pros for many, many years.

Canvas Drop Cloth

Heavy Paper

36 mil paper is a common choice when working over hard flooring. It provides good spill protection, while also providing a bit of added drop protection.

Ram Board

Masonite Sheets

In higher end homes, where flooring can be quite expensive (and may be installed before construction is completed). 1/8" - 1/4" Masonite sheets can be laid over a medium weight or Rosin paper, to provide good spill and drop protection.

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Many contractors and painters use rosin paper as a floor barrier. It comes in long rolls.

rosin paper

This paper protects against most spills and scratches. It also is not very slick, so it doesn't slide around. It is only 3 feet wide, so it is put down in strips and then taped together using masking tape.

The edges are also often taped up to baseboards or cabinetry to make a clean painting line, but use special edge tape if you want a very sharp line.

Painters also use canvas drop clothes which are heavy duty and reusable, but much more expensive.

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When I use rosen paper on the floor I roll out the strips so they overlap some and then tape them together. This is opposed to trying to place the strips side by side. – Michael Karas Dec 3 '13 at 15:51
@MichaelKaras Absolutely! I should have mentioned that. – bib Dec 3 '13 at 16:04

After years of struggling with newspapers or plastic sheets I came to a simple solutions that works great for painting walls: I place the paint bucket over a flattened large cardboard box (roughly 1X1 meter. Any other stiff material can work). I push the cardboard right against the wall I am painting, and for each new section (most often after each roller dip in the paint bucket) I move it along the wall (by about 30-50 CM). This way you don't need to prep the floor cover but still have something to protect the floor as you paint.

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