This quality canvas drop cloth is butyl rubber backed to give you the best of both worlds. The canvas-butyl combination has been used for a number of years, with great success; giving both absorbency and a moisture barrier to prevent paint from leaking through. Although this drop cloth is available in a number of sizes, the larger size gives you the most coverage and the most options. Slightly heavier fabric than the Butyl II, it is also slightly more expensive.
Although it says “Butyl” this is actually a poly backed drop cloth (Butyl II is the manufacturer’s name). Nevertheless, it still provides the same advantage of having fabric to absorb the paint, along with a waterproof layer to prevent it from soaking through. The fabric is a little bit lighter on this one, when compared to the Trimaco 80322, which is why I put it in the number two slot. I’d also have to say that the butyl backing is more secure than the poly one. This one is also available in various sizes, but once again, I’d recommend spending the extra to buy the larger size.
For those who like pure canvas, without the rubber backing, this is a quality drop cloth that is made of heavy canvas with triple-stitched seams. Personally, all my drop cloths are pure canvas, and I've never had paint leak through to mark what I've covered. I like canvas because I don’t have to worry about the rubber backing drying out and cracking from the heat; and where I live, we've got lots of heat. However, were I to do it again, I'd probably go for one of the backed ones. This pure canvas is heavy duty, insuring it will do a great job.
Okay, I realize that not everyone is a professional painter, and most folks don’t want to spend the big bucks for half a dozen canvas drop cloths. For the do-it-yourselfer who needs something that will get him through painting his house, I recommend a plastic-backed paper drop cloth, like this one from Kimberly Clark/Scott. The paper absorbs the paint, and the plastic keeps it from seeping through. While paper and plastic don’t do a very good job by themselves, when you put them together, they combine to form great drop cloths. Not only that, they’re reusable — maybe not for 20 years — but still reusable.
If you’re just painting a room or two, Ace Hardware puts out this disposable plastic backed paper dropcloth. Less expensive than the “professional” grade plastic-backed paper, it’ll still get you through your project and save you a few bucks while you’re at it. Essentially, this is a lighter weight version of what we're showing in the number 4 slot. The paper is there to absorb and the plastic to protect. These are not intended to be reused, but are disposable.