My decorating business has grown rapidly in the last 7 years and I have gone from being a lone worker painting Mrs Jones’ living room, to having multiple painters working on contracts worth 10’s of thousands of pounds.
One of the main selling points of Citywide’s service is cleanliness and care of clients property and possessions. The London offices we redecorate over long shifts at the weekend on a regular basis, are a perfect example of this.
My team will arrive on site and spend an age meticulously masking and protecting surfaces and floors to ensure not a spec of dust escapes, or a drip of paint touches anything but the walls it is meant for. These are clients who accept nothing less than perfection and are willing to pay for that.
For me to keep up with these expectations, I try to keep up to date with new ideas and products that could provide better, quicker or more cost effective alternatives. I have been trying different options for floor protection when decorating and thought I would share my findings. There are loads of options and pros and cons for all, which I have attempted to compile below. I hope you find it useful.
The Options for Floor Protection When Decorating
The trusty dust sheet. You know what you get with a dust sheet. It’s easily moved and easily stored. You can have as many as you need in a room overlapping each other to cover as big an area as necessary. You buy them and they’ll last for ages. They start getting tatty and you demote them to exterior decorating use and buy some fresh ones for inside. Its an outlay that you make once every year or two that doesn’t cost the earth and is a ‘must have’ part of your kit. They come in various sizes from 2 or 3ft wide to 12ft and larger to suit whatever areas you may have to cover. They come in a variety of qualities at a range of prices, from the basic cotton sheets to my personal favourite the Trimaco Eliminator Sheets available here.
These particular sheets are backed with butyl that is waterproof and very strong and flexible, which is very difficult to tear. You can tell the quality of these by the sheer weight, carrying 5 or 6 of the 9x12ft sheets up 12 flights of stairs is an absolute nightmare. They are not the cheapest at around, but they are well worth it in my opinion.
The only real con for dust sheets is that they are a trip hazard. Especially with elderly customers around, and after a near calamitous incident I had to re-think my options. Although dust sheets will always be a part of the kit, there are times when something else is a better alternative and they really are the perfect floor protection when decorating.
This led me on to adhesive backed films for carpets. I tried a couple of cheap versions that I sourced on google, with mixed results. The thickness varies from brand to brand, as does the strength of the adhesive. Some don’t stick to thicker piled carpets at all and some are so thin you can drop a hand tool and pierce them in no time. I ended up trying Packexe. Again, probably the most expensive – but also again, well worth it in my opinion.
These rolls are very thick and the adhesion is great, even on the most bouncy of carpets. It pulls up well, without taking the carpet off the floor with it.
Although the films are not the easiest thing to manoeuvre, they are brilliant on stairs. They won’t slip as the day goes on leaving that inch square bit of carpet exposed that the only drip of excess paint on your brush will land on. They are safer all round, and if you have a particularly finicky client, it can be used under the dust sheet as a double protection. It comes on a roll so is easy to store in the van and carry around the job.
One of the cons for adhesive films is the fact any spillages will sit on the surface which will become very slippery. Another is the cost and the waste. It is a one time use product, that although can last the duration of the job, ultimately will end up in landfill. A 50m roll retails around £65 so if used regularly on every job it is a fair sized expense. All things considered this is a great product but best used only for certain scenarios.
An alternative protection for hard floors is corex. Many sites my team work on will get in sheets of corex in, ready for snagging once the floorers have been in and wrecked the skirtings and walls. Corex sheets come in a variety of thickness ranging from 2mm upward at a sheet size of 2400mm x 1200mm.
They offer more protection to the floor itself than adhesive films and are reusable. The sheets are very easy to cut to the shape needed and can be laid butting up or overlapped, so covering the surface doesn’t take too long. They are great for covering areas when spraying but over time the paint build up on them will start to flake off, risking contaminating the next coat.
The same issue with the lack of absorption applies to the corex, as does the fact they will go into landfill after a few uses. They are also not the cheapest option per m2 coverage, at around £3.85 per sheet, but if reused could beat the cost of the Packexe per m2. One of the biggest issues with the sheets is the size for transportation. They’re fine when delivered to site but if you want to reuse, they take up an awful lot of space in the van. They aren’t great on carpets and tend to move, especially on heavy pile. A product I use regularly, but preferably at the builders expense! I buy mine online.
At the National Painting and Decorating Show 2014 in Coventry I came across a variety of different options for flooring protection that I hadn’t seen before. From some that had an almost velcro like stick to the carpet but didn’t look like they’d offer enough protection, to a 40mm thick hard plastic that can withstand scissor lifts and other site plant being used on it. I also came across cardboard protection on a roll. I took a sample home and thought it could be a great product.
It was only recently that I finally ordered some Trimaco X-Board to give a proper test on a job. It come on a roll which is great for transporting and storage. I was using this on a laminate floor in a room I was using to spray some furniture as well as doing the full re-dec. I used masking tape to tape the lengths to the floor and to each other. The X-board stayed stuck down for the entire job which was over 5 days in total. Available online by clicking here.
Any overspray and spills from cleaning the airless out after spraying the ceiling just sucked into the board and dried very quickly, meaning it wouldn’t be possible to get trodden around the rest of the house. The durability of the board was surprising for the thickness, and at the end there were no tears or holes and the floor was completely clean. I would say this would be similar to corex in that its probably not the best option on thicker carpets, as it will have a tendency to move and come unstuck with continued use. Overall this is probably my new favourite and I would look to this before corex on commercial or spraying jobs in particular. This is fairly expensive at around £15 per roll as the coverage is only about 15m2 but definitely worth it for a guaranteed accident free job.
Conclusion – Floor Protection When Decorating
I would definitely say DON’T buy cheap. This is your reputation and customers property at stake. It may cost more in the short term, but long term it will win you customers. The amount of times I hear my clients say they’ve never seen anybody take that much care in protecting their belongings. They will tell their friends. Their friends will call you and you do the same. They do the same as their friend, and so it goes on.
From trying all these products it seems they are all great for certain situations and I would be foolish to stick with just one. They all have their pros and cons, but weighing that up against the job at hand and considering the project budget should make a decision easier. What I will say is I think there is still room for improvement for carpet protection and hope to find a product available soon that is easy to use, sticks to carpet but is also able to absorb liquids. Any budding entrepreneurs out there?!
Floor Protection for Decorators – by James Wildish