If you are planning to paint your staged home, good for you!

A DIY paint job done well brings terrific returns on your investment. The best part is that your investment is more time than money. 

When you pay for professional painting, most of what you are paying for is labor.

So, if you can do the work, you can save that money.

But an amateurish paint job could do more harm than good. When buyers see sloppy work, they lose confidence in the upkeep and general quality of a property. Don't let that happen to you. Paint like a pro. Here's how.

Messes will mess you up

A striking difference between the inexperienced and the professional painter is the amount of paint the beginner gets where paint is not supposed to be.

That's where drop cloths come in. Their job is to protect surfaces, making you look like a pro because a pro doesn't make a mess.

They won't protect you, though. That's what gloves, a hat, long sleeves, and painters pants are for. But dressing for painting is a blog post for another day.

Just protect edges 

When you are painting walls, it is not necessary to cover the entire room with drop cloths.  You want to protect the perimeter of the room and any raised surfaces that are fixed to the walls, like countertops, built-in cabinets, or tub and toilets.  A small drop cloth in the center of the room will give you a safe surface where you can pour up paint and keep supplies.
Beautifully painted walls are the start of a 
successful homestaging or redecorating
Photo: Benjamin Moore

What size do you need?

Around the room's perimeter, all you need is a dropcloth less than 2 feet wide. (Of course, any furniture will be pushed toward the middle of the room.) In the photo above, you see Mr. Lucky's preference -- an 18-inch wide piece of scrap carpeting. It works well because it lies flat and can easily be kicked or dragged along as he moves around the room. If you use this system, just be certain to keep the roller over the carpet scrap at all times.

What kind to buy

Most people think of canvas drop cloths when they think of professional painters. These cloths are good because they are impervious to paint and they cover all kinds of surfaces without shifting. If you don't have a canvas drop cloth and don't want to buy one, I suggest a paper drop cloth designed to be used multiple times, but not forever. Some types are heavy, flexible paper, and some are plastic-backed.

How to save money

For a budget version of a handy drop cloth, look in second-hand stores for vinyl-backed curtains and drapes. If you cut off the pleated top edge, you'll have a versatile drop cloth that's small enough to be washable but large enough to provide good protection.

Two things not to do 

If you plan to throw down plastic sheeting to protect floors, don't. Paint that splatters and drips onto plastic does not dry, and before you know it, you've stepped in drips and tracked paint onto carpets or flooring. 

Also, do not use cardboard (too slippery), newspaper (too unreliable), or "contractor's" rosin paper (too stiff and shifty). In a pinch, an old sheet, folded to lay in two or three layers will sub for a drop cloth.

Spend for an investment 

Painting is one of the best real estate enhancements you can do yourself. Having the right supplies, like drop cloths that do what they are supposed to do, will help you do a cleaner job, and make your home on the market more appealing to buyers.

Get the look, get the book

My eBook, DIY Home Staging Tips to Sell Your Home Fast and For Top Dollar, gives you plenty more tips to work efficiently and effectively when you prepare your home for sale. Why go it alone, when I can be holding your hand?