Worst Drop Cloth Ever: Reader Has To Replace His Carpet

A drop cloth is one of those items that doesn’t have varying degrees of effectiveness. It either works or it doesn’t. In Matt’s case, it didn’t work. Matt bought a canvas drop cloth from Home Depot. He did this because he was under the impression that a canvas drop cloth would prevent paint from getting on whatever he placed it over. Unfortunately for Matt, the drop cloth was too thin and paint soaked right through, ruining his carpet. Read Matt’s email inside.

Matt writes:

After the annoyances of thin plastic drop cloths (they get staticy and stick to your feet), I went to Home Depot to buy a new one. They offered several main types: paper (figured this would tear and paint would leak through), plastic sheets (see above), and canvas. Canvas is not only lightweight like paper, but I figured it would last longer. In all the above assessments I was correct. We primed and painted our dining room with our lovely new drop cloth and the walls look grea (brown on one wall and “sand” on the others)!

So my wife gets clean-up duty and as she removes the drop cloth, there’s a lovely surprise: our carpet now matches our walls in several spots! There are brown spots, sandy colored spots, and also some patches of white primer color, how lovely.

Now, I am not necessarily blaming the Home Depot for this, but to whoever made this drop cloth, what exactly was the purpose of this item? Was I supposed to use it to make pillows, as a blanket for a cool night, seriously, if a drop cloth doesn’t stop paint, what is the point of it?

The wife and I are now going to yank the carpet out and install wood or laminate flooring (no drop cloth required), and I hope my tale of stupidity and failing drop cloths will save someone elses carpet!



Ouch. Oh well, Matt. Look on the bright side. Hardwood flooring increases the value of your home? We asked Matt to share the brand of drop cloth he used so that other people would know not to rely on it.

Matt writes back:


Went by the HD tonight to pick up some items and took a look at the drop cloths. I purchased a 9×11 (well okay, 8’9″x11’9″) “Performance Select Canvas Drop Cloth” (8 oz). This item is specifically made for the Home Depot, but many stores (online) carry the same thing (size, shape, color), so they probably all come from the Canvas Drop Cloth Factory in China.

Anyway, while poking around the Home Depot website, I caught this gem:

Drop Cloths & Tarps (Buying Guide):

Butyl Backing: If you purchase a canvas drop cloth, look for one with butyl backing. This rubberized coating serves two important purposes. First, it makes the canvas nearly impenetrable, no matter how much paint gets spilled on it.”

Well, that sure is helpful to know now!

I hope my ignorance about drop cloths can help someone else.

Honestly, it’s not that crazy to expect a drop cloth to stop paint! Drop cloth. Stop paint. Makes sense.

Matt, your sacrifice shall not go unnoticed. Others will learn from your example and buy butyl-backed drop cloths. While doing this, they will think of you and smile. “Thanks, Matt!” they will say aloud, to no one.

Or, conversely, they will do what we always do, which is place a crappy plastic drop cloth under a cheap canvas one. The canvas is more durable to walk on, and the plastic sheet provides an extra layer of protection. —MEGHANN MARCO

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