Paint is the great equalizer. It can make things look amazing or it can ruin them. Paint can add character and style to a space; it can make a room look bigger and even invoke feelings both positive and negative. Paint can also be incredibly messy. Like any liquid, it’s prone to spills and splattering.

It can drip all over the place and make a gigantic hodgepodge of the space you’re working in. There’s also the matter of your tools and the likely unorganized way that they’ll be scattered across the worksite. You’ll also need to collect them and clean the day’s paint off too.

As a painter, it’s important that you keep things clean during and after the job. It impresses your clients and you look like the consummate professional that you are. To help you look every bit the painter pro, we’ve got some advice on how to keep your job sites cleaner.

Use Drop Cloths
When you paint, you need to be concerned with everything surrounding your work, too. This is why drop cloths are important. Drop cloths placed on the floor of the room/area you’re painting can prevent any drips or spills from wreaking their havoc.

There are many different kinds of drop cloths; vinyl, butyl, polypropylene, but we’re going to focus on just two types of drop cloths – canvas, as it’s the preferred choice for many pro painters and plastic, because it’s cheap. Canvas is thick and absorbent. It’s pointless to put something down that the paint is just going to soak through, after all.

Some canvas comes with rubber undersides that make them slip-proof while adding an extra layer of stain prevention for the client’s floors. Canvas cloths are tough and durable but also on the expensive side - a 9 by 12-foot piece of cloth costs around $15.

If you’d like another, cheaper option, there are plastic drop cloths too. You can get them in multiple thicknesses (.4 to 4 mill), they don’t weigh very much, and they can also double as protection for furniture, as well. Paint that falls onto plastic drop cloths does tend to run, though, so you’ve got to be careful not to step in and track it into other places throughout the worksite.

How to Clean Drop Cloths
There’s no need to buy new drop cloths if you can reuse what you’ve already got on hand. To clean paint off of a canvas drop cloth you have to wash it in cold water and allow it to air dry. As for plastic drop cloths, they’re not recyclable after being covered in paint and they’re too thin to be properly laundered. You may as well dispose of those after you’re done using them.

Use Masking Tape
This one is relatively simple, if any areas don’t need to be painted, then you need to tape them off before you start the job. To properly set it, use a 5-in-1 tool or putty knife to smooth it over any surfaces you and the client want to stay paint-free.

Cover the Doors and Windows
If you’re painting a ceiling, it’s still possible for paint to drip and splatter onto the windows and doors even with the trim covered. The best way to avoid this is to cover them in plastic. To do this, attach half of a length of tape to the plastic and the other half to attach to the trimming of the door/window. You’re able to catch two birds with one stone as this method lets you shield both the trimming and door/window at once.

Clean Up After Every Job
Once you’ve finished with your painting for the day, you should quickly clean up your work area. Any drop sheets you need to either have washed or properly disposed of and you should clean your paintbrushes and rollers right after you’re done with them. To do this, you need to remove any excess paint from your brushes, rollers, tray, etc., and then wash them out. If there’s any trash left around the area, dispose of it and sweep up the surroundings, if need be.

These are just a few simple tips that can help you keep your worksite cleaner and make a good impression on your clients. While painting is an inherently messy job, we’re hoping that the tips that we’ve provided you with mitigate that to some degree. If there are any other tips that you guys want to share - painter to painter - then do it in the comments.