Efficient painting and decorating – no cotton dust sheets please
My work ethos is based on quality before quantity and speed.
However, if you can program yourself to work as efficiently as possible, while maintaining the highest standards, you have arrived!
If you take a long hard look at everything you do and all the kit you use, you begin to see room for improvements. The full story behind (efficient painting and decorating)
Cotton dust sheets are a waste of time
If you work in private homes, and insist on laying out cotton sheets on the floor before sanding and painting, you are probably wasting time and money throughout the duration of the job.
If you sand down walls and woodwork and let the dust fall onto cotton dust sheets, and then shake the sheets out in the garden – you are probably annoying your customer, as well as wasting time and losing money.
If you want to spend all day carefully dragging and rearranging cotton sheets as you inadvertently scuff them and trip over them – carry on wasting time and losing money. You also work under the constant risk of ruining the very flooring you are trying to protect.
At the other extreme of masking up, many decorators, many workmen in fact, think that it is OK to let a hardwood floor, or lino, vinyl get dusty then clean it up at end of job. Ask the lady of the house what she thinks about that, then reappraise!
Personally, I prefer a stress-free and efficient working life and I like to work hard without worrying to much about what is going on underfoot. (My customers like that about me as well!)
Masking up Hardwood / vinyl flooring
The first thing I do is “waste” an hour or so laying down paper.
I use 3M 14-day 2090 blue tape for the edges, then lay 1200-1400 grade lining paper from Coveryourwall, overlapping each piece by an inch, and tape down with cheap and super sticky masking tape.
With this technique, the gummy cheap tape never comes in contact with the floor, and you know that with the blue tape, you will get a nice clean edge around skirtings and door frames, and the tape will come up without too much persuasion. If cheaper masking tape is laid direct on a floor or carpet, and then walked over for a few days, watch out!
It is relaxing knowing the flooring beneath your feet is well protected.
I developed this sheeting-up method while hand-painting kitchen cabinets.
If there is one room you don’t want to get dusty or spattered in paint, it’s the kitchen. Also the enemy of shiny paint is dust, and as far as I am concerned, a cotton dust sheet is a dust trap.
The tools for masking up a floor are basically two tape dispensers, one for blue one for white tape, a pair of scissors and a stock of lining paper. (The other tools in the picture are for dealing with the cabinets.)
If you notice, paint that gets on floors outside the work area is usually from customers walking in and out! So I usually leave a mat outside the door too, either paper, or my one and only cotton sheet, plastic backed. Then I get to work as if I were on a building site. ie any accidental paint spots or spills are a non-issue, but better than a building site, lining-papered floors can be easily vacuumed and kept meticulously clean.
Masking up carpeted floors
In my experience, the basic evolution of sheeting-up carpeted floors has been:
Take up the carpet. This level of disruption is often not an option. Oh well.
Cotton dust sheets and a George (paint shield for cutting in close to carpets) This is the old way and frankly, why did we ever think this was smart!
Cotton sheets and masking tape around baseboards. Progress, as you can paint skirtings quickly with less chance of picking up fluff in your paint brush. But still, cotton sheets are not smart, as they trap dust, and lint off.
Plastic sheets over whole floor, taped down around edges. Pretty good solution, especially for thick pile carpeting. In fact plastic sheeting, or Trimaco One Tuff impervious lightweight sheeting on deep pile carpets is better than lining paper. But you have to tread carefully. Working alone, no problem, but if you have a heavy hoofed colleague, this method can let you down.
A design flaw
What I noticed, if you lay a complete polythene sheet on the floor and tape it down, the masking tape round the edges gets pulled away as you walk over it during the course of a job.
So to overcome this problem, I tend to lay a poly sheet over the whole floor leaving a 6″ gap all round the edges, and, tape it down. That sheet will tend to “walk” as it is walked over, but it basically stays doing its job of protecting the carpet. To deal with skirting areas, I chop a length of lining paper in half and run that all round the skirting and tape that against the skirting. This way, the paper border is independent of the main walking area, so, over the course of the job, you can rely on the lining paper and the masking tape against the skirting to stay put and be reliable when painting.
A extra bonus, the majority of the dust residual from sanding walls and skirtings will be limited to the paper border, and as paper is very easy to vacuum up, you have a win-win.
Alternative floor protection products
I own one cotton sheet, it is plastic-backed and usually gets laid outside a room as a door mat. There are loads of other options for protecting floors, from Trimaco One Tuff to poly sheets to cardboard to Packexe on a roll. All are safer than cotton sheets, some are better than others, but in the long run they will work out much cheaper than cotton sheets in terms of labour.
Labour saving ideas are the first steps for improved efficiency and a competitive edge – in a hurry. Finding ways of saving even an hour on a week’s work – every week – is worth way more than spending hours trawling the internet for a deal on new cotton dust sheets.
I have had criticisms about being ungreen with paper. Apologies, but I don;t buy the environmental argument against using paper v cotton dust sheets. Someone’s not being paid a fair wage for producing a 12 x 12 dust sheet that sells for £6, plus costs of shipping a dust sheet, washing a dust sheet, folding, laying shaking and stacking and storing… this all adds up to a mighty big footprint compared to on average 3-4 rolls per room of paper that often gets re-used and, according to our bin guys, recycled too. And to my knowledge, no carpet or floor or fireplace or appliance has had to be binned because of paint seeping through paper, something that cannot be said based on horrific experiences with paint seepage through cotton sheets.
Just like dusting brushes, cotton dust sheets are an ongoing drain on time and money and for the most part, need to stay in the cupboard.
What is your experience?
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