A dust sheet is an essential tool for any painter. Essentially a gigantic "place mat" for painters, it exists to catch spilt or dripping paint. Whether you're simply painting a room, or working on your next masterpiece, a dust sheet should be your best friend. Unless, of course, your next painting project is the carpet. There are many common materials used for dust sheets.
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Canvas Dust Sheets
Dust sheets made from canvas are the most common. They're also the most expensive, but they're often very desirable as their extra weight helps them stay in the same place. Select canvas dust sheets with treated backs so any spillage doesn't seep through the cloth. Canvas is also pleasant and easy to work with because of its weight. Canvas dust sheets are reusable, but shouldn't be employed on potentially slippery surfaces such as wood or vinyl. .
Plastic Dust Sheets
A plastic dust sheet is usually used to cover furniture. It's not a great floor cover since it will stick to your feet while you're working. Avoid using it on surfaces where it may be slippery, such as a carpet. It's also a poor outdoor dust sheet since plastic isn't heavy enough to stand up to the wind or the sun's heat. Don't use plastic over light or heat sources such as lamps, as the plastic can melt.
Outdoor Plastic Tarps
Plastic tarps can be useful when painting outdoors. They shouldn't be used as a ground cover since they can be slippery, especially if they're covered with wet paint. However, plastic tarps are weighty enough to cover fixtures that are near your painting target and may suffer collateral damage. They will stand up to the wind and the sun.
Paper Dust Sheet
A paper dust sheet is useful for throwaway situations. Paper dust sheets are usually treated on one side to prevent seeping, and are often used for extremely messy jobs that may ruin a canvas cloth. Paper dust sheets can be purchased in multiple weights and can be fairly nice to work with. Paper dust sheets should be taped down if they're being used as floor covers, to prevent slippage.
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