How To Protect Your Carpet/Floor When You’re Painting

When I first moved into my home, in 2008, I had already decided to allocate one of the bedrooms as a dedicated art studio. Once in, and I was having new carpets throughout the house, I spent a while thinking about whether I should carpet the studio too, or just leave the bare floor boards uncovered to save ruining any carpeting with paint, which I knew I would do. After some thought I opted for a combination of the two, I had my studio carpeted along with the rest of the house, but then I went to my local hard-ware store and purchased 2 sheets of 3mm x 1220mm x 2440mm ( 8 foot x 4 foot ) hardboard to lay on the floor, over the top of the new carpet, as a sacrificial covering.

Because my floors underneath the carpeting are wooden, I was able to tack down the hardboard sheeting with carpet-tacks ( very small nails that do very little damage ) to stop myself, or anyone else, tripping over the corners and edges of this new hardboard sheeting. Unless the hardboard sheets are tacked down in some way the corners can lift up when weight is applied to the rest of the board, so tacking them down is a must for safety.

In my own case, there was no need to cover the entire studio floor with these hardboard sheets, I just used 2 sheets where I knew my easel would be and where I knew my chair would wear most. 2 sheets is an area 8 by 8 feet, which is plenty of covering in my own case. I would say that I’m quite a tidy painter, and I tend not to throw too much paint around, but I know that some artists have a much more free style of painting and in this case more boards wold be needed, and perhaps the whole floor covered with hardboard.

I have an artist friend who paints much more energetically than me, and she not only has covering on the floors, but has also put covering up the walls to a height of about 6 feet. This is a great idea if you’re a very free painter. You certainly don’t want to be painting with half a mind worrying about making a mess of your studio, floor, walls, ceiling, furniture ..e.t.c

Here are some photographs of my set-up:

art studio flooring
2 hardboard sheets side-by-side covering the most vulnerable parts of the floor.
hardboard flooring
I didn’t bother to fit hardboard in the areas that would rarely get paint on them, or weren’t liable to foot/chair wear.
wear on flooring
You can see the wear caused by the wheels on my chair over the years, also a fair bit of paint splatter that was saved from landing on the carpet beneath the boards.
carpet tacks in floor
I’ve nailed/tacked the hardboard sheets down through the carpet and into the wooden flooring beneath, this keeps the hardboard sheets flush with the floor so they pose no trip hazard.
loose flooring
You can see where the carpet tack/nail has come loose in the damaged corner of one sheet here, and already the board has lifted a little, and become a trip hazard.
dangerous flooring
This photograph highlights the dangerous lifted hardboard edge, I’ll get a new tack in this asap!

Of course hardboard is not the only material you can use to cover and protect your flooring from paint and damage, I know and artist who uses thick paper, taped down around the edges. Yet another uses thick plastic sheeting taped down and also taped to the walls. You could also use MDF sheeting, which is also cheap and easy to cut.

The added advantage of using a robust smooth floor covering such as hardboard of MDF sheeting, is that your chair if it has wheels, rolls beautifully and effortlessly around on it, and you can whizz from one side of your studio to the other like a dream.

At the time of writing General Purpose Hardboard 3 x 1220 x 2440mm is widely available and only costs around £7 a sheet, it’s obtainable from all good DIY stores, such as:

Best wishes




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