How to Protect Your Carpets From Stains When Painting and Decorating the House 

When the time comes to redecorate the walls in one’s home, it is only natural that no one wishes to blemish their carpet. Being careful when preparing your home for renovation is crucial, even though many people don’t take the necessary precautions seriously. This is often because interior paints are the most commonly water-based, which can give people a false sense of security. The reasoning is that, given the water-based nature of the paint, any accidental spills on the carpet should be relatively easy to clean. Unfortunately, this assumption is often far from the truth. So, our certified stain removal specialists decided to share with you how best to protect your carpet from spills and accidents during painting.

Check also: 6 Ways to Keep Furniture and Carpets Clean All Year Round

To understand why paint is so challenging to remove from carpets and upholstery, you must first understand its properties. Image by atlascompany

What are the differences between water and oil-based paints?

When discussing whether a paint is oil-based or water-based, we are essentially referring to the kind of solvent incorporated into the paint, which constitutes the liquid element of the paint that evaporates during the drying process. Oil-based paints (sometimes inaccurately termed enamel) employ an organic solvent in their composition, typically mineral turpentine. As the name implies, water-based paints (emulsion paints like latex or acrylic) primarily consist of water as their solvent.

The easy cleaning of paint stains on the carpet is a myth. Here’s why: 

Before we delve into the most effective methods of safeguarding your carpet from stains during decoration, it’s essential to examine the properties of paints utilised in domestic settings. In doing so, we aim to debunk the notion that a paint stain on a carpet is a trivial matter that can be effortlessly cleansed.

Read also: Stain removal is a matter of chemistry

Emulsion paint is used for both interior and exterior walls.

Emulsion paint

Water-based paints (emulsion paints both latex and acrylic) contain around 50 per cent water – some more, some less, depending on the brand and variation. They are preferred for larger areas like interior and exterior walls because water makes the paint more workable and easier to apply. Yes, acrylic and latex paints can be relatively easily cleaned while still wet. But when the paint dries, and especially when it comes to textiles, there are other factors besides what the paint is based on that can cause a permanent stain. Water-based paints contain various ingredients called polymers that are used to give the finished product its desired qualities – coverage, sheen, durability, washability and so on. With the evaporation of water, these molecules get closer together, forming strong bonds and creating a waterproof barrier.

When emulsion dries up on a hard surface, you can still scrape it off and clean the spot relatively easily. But the outcomes are quite different when a paint spill gets onto the carpet. The particles in the paint attach to the carpet fibres, and the stain becomes extremely difficult to remove. Also, if you are using a more saturated colour, the pigments can blemish the carpet beyond cleaning.

Oil-based paints are used mainly for doors, window frames and furniture.

Oil-based paints 

Oil-based paints exhibit exceptional durability and can endure regular handling, making them preferred for mouldings, skirting boards, and furniture. Besides the oil content (usually turpentine), oil-based paints contain resin. This substance creates a non-porous surface that is highly resistant to stains and rust as time passes. However, it is worth noting that oil-based paints emit a more potent odour than their water-based counterparts and necessitate a longer drying period. They also pose greater challenges when it comes to cleaning.

When the spill is still fresh, you have the best chance to clean oil-based paint from any surface. It would be best to always keep paint thinner and turpentine at hand whenever you use such paint. When the stain is dry, removing oil-based paint from any surface, let alone the fibres of your carpet, is quite challenging.

The absence of floor cover on this image makes us want to pull our hair out! Don’t be that person, check how to protect your carpets and floors. Image by Freepik

What to use to protect carpets from stains when painting and decorating the house?

Now that you know the properties of paints, it is easier to understand why it is crucial to take precautions and protect your carpet when redecorating at home. There are different options to help you prevent paint stains on your carpet when painting, whether it’s painting the walls, furnishings, moulding or skirting boards. Here are the most efficient types of products you can use:

Many handyman prefer protection rolls due to their convenience, but they are not suitable for all carpet types. Image: bagsofroom

Carpet protection roll

Often, people doing renovations choose this type of cover because of its convenience. Carpet protection rolls are self-adhesive, durable and tear-resistant. Handymen also prefer it because it doesn’t move around, so it’s an efficient solution to prevent paint spills. Unfortunately, self-adhesive protection rolls are not suitable for all types of carpets. After removing the film, the adhesive may remain on the carpet and walls. Some brands even state that the product can only be used on synthetic carpets. So before laying it all over the room, ensure this product can be used on your carpets. After all, your goal is to prevent carpet stains, not substitute paint spills for glue residue, right?

Dust sheets, when set and fixed correctly are the best way to protect carpets from paint stains. Image by gpointstudio

Dust sheet

Thick plastic dust sheets are a great alternative to carpet protection rolls. However, there are a few things to remember when using them when painting and decorating. Dust sheets need to be fixed onto the carpet so they don’t slip; setting them right will also help you prevent accidental drops of paint onto the carpet. One way to fix these covers is with gaffer or painter’s tape (we’ll get into more details on these materials below). Another way to ensure the dust sheet doesn’t move around and avoid paint spills on your carpet is to tuck the plastic sheet underneath the skirting board. If possible, always opt for tucking instead of taping the cover – you will have a very well-fixed floor cover protecting your carpet. Tucking the dust sheet is also preferred when spray-painting the skirting boards.

When it comes to fixing your the dust sheets on carpets not all tapes are created equal. Image by

Gaffer, masking tape or painter’s tape

Since we’ve mentioned tape as a way to fix dust sheets over your carpet to protect it from paint stains, it’s good to note that not all types of tape are created equal. The best kinds of tape to use are gaffer and painter’s tape. They are adhesive enough to stick to your carpet and the walls but still easy to remove. Gaffer and painter’s tape don’t leave gummy sticky residue; you can use them not only when fixing the dust sheets on the carpet but also to protect the flooring when hand-painting your skirting boards. You can also use low-tack masking tape. However, it might get unstuck and let the dust sheets move, thus exposing your carpet. Also, unlike gaffer and painter’s tape, masking tape can get soaked and allow the paint to penetrate underneath. So, although gaffer and painter’s tape are more expensive, they are the better alternative to masking tape when it comes to painting and decoration projects.

Read also: 10 Simple Things That Effectively Remove Stickers From Any Surface

If there is a paint spilled on your carpet the best you can do is to soak up as much liquid as possible and call stain removal specialist as soon as possible.

How to remove a paint stain from the carpet?

If you search, you will find that many websites give all sorts of home recipes and methods for cleaning paint from carpets. Unfortunately, while the sentiment is good, these articles are a complete hoax. No self-respecting carpet cleaning professional (especially if certified in stain removal) would guarantee that the Internet’s methods – acetones, solvents, dishwashing liquid, soap, alcohol – would work in your situation. On another type of surface – maybe, but when it comes to carpet, there are too many factors to consider – whether the stain is fresh or not, the composition of the carpet, carpet pile height, whether it is fixed wall-to-wall and more. If you need to deal with a paint accident on your carpet don’t hesitate tocontact us and get a sain removal quote within minutes.

It’s best if you notice the stain while it’s still wet. Use a clean white cloth to soak up as much paint as possible. Do not rub to avoid spreading the stain. Suppose you’re dealing with a latex stain. In that case, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to remove it by dabbing the area with a clean cloth dampened with water as you pull it off the carpet, but pigments may still remain. Also, some types of rugs, like viscose, bamboo and artificial silk, are moisture sensitive and over-soaking them could lead to damage.

Suppose you need to clean an oil-based paint stain. In that case, it’s best to blot up the excess with a towel and get a certified stain removal specialist to help you remove it as soon as possible. The following applies to both types of paint stains: the fresher the stains and the fewer products you have used on them, the greater the chance that the professional carpet cleaner will be able to remove them from your flooring. That is why taking precautions is still the best way to keep your carpet stain-free during renovations.

Stain removal specialist or carpet cleaner?

And lastly, you may have noticed that we repeatedly said to turn to a stain removal specialist rather than a carpet cleaner. That is because these are two different jobs, although there are professionals who are certified for both. Most carpet cleaners can deal with everyday dirt. However, some stubborn and unlikely stains, like paint, are better left to a certified expert. We at CleanerCleaner are certified in carpet cleaning and stain removal, so if you need help with paint spills on your carpet, don’t hesitate to give us a call if you have to deal with a paint spill on your flooring.