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Plastic sheeting is...
Plastic sheeting - the painter’s friend
Somewhere near the top of a painter’s inventory list - just after paintbrushes and paint - is the builders’ roll. These plastic sheets are so popular with painters and decorators that they could easily be called ‘painters’ rolls’.
Plastic sheeting allows painters to get on with their job with complete peace of mind. All it takes is a bit of preparation time to unfold the plastic sheeting and cover floors, carpets, furniture or other items that need protecting, before they can then concentrate fully on their painting without worrying about excess paint dripping onto the surfaces in question.
At the end of the working day or when the job has been completed, the painter can simply pick up the roll, fold it or roll it back up for use on the next job.
Painters don’t have the monopoly on plastic sheeting, however. Other tradespeople also use the protective covering, including carpenters and plasters, for the very same reasons as painters - to give them a simple and quick solution to protecting surfaces during their work, leaving them to concentrate on the job.
How much plastic sheeting do I need?
The amount of plastic sheeting you require to cover an area in preparation for a job will depend on a number of factors:
Obviously, the bigger the surface area you have to cover (point 1) and the more furniture items you have to cover (point 2), the more plastic sheeting you will need, unless you are happy to move your plastic sheeting around during the job (point 3).
One other important thing to consider is that dust may easily blow away from the immediate working area so some jobs, such as sanding or drilling, are likely to need a wider area covered around the work zone than others, such as painting (point 4).
Plastic sheeting - measuring up
Once you have decided how big an area you need to cover in one go, you need to work out how many sheets you need. Remember that plastic sheeting is traditionally sold on 1m rolls that fold out to either 2m-wide ‘single-fold’ sheets or 4m-wide ‘multi-fold’ sheets.
So, if you need to cover an area that's 3m x 10m, you’ll either need one 10m long section of a 4m multi-fold sheet, or two 10m long sections of a 2m single-fold sheet, which you’ll then place alongside each other, with some overlap, to cover the required area.
When purchasing your plastic sheeting, don’t forget that 4m-wide multi-fold sheets will, in general, be sold on a roll half the length of a 2m-wide single-fold sheet, as there is twice as much plastic being wrapped around the roll.
Both single-fold rolls and multi-fold rolls will, as standard, contain 200m² of plastic sheeting and will weigh the same (100 micron ‘medium duty’ clear polythene x 200m² = 18kg). The single fold roll will measure 2m x 100m, while the multi-fold roll will measure 4m x 50m.
Heavy or medium duty polythene?
Another important factor to consider when choosing the plastic sheeting you need for a job is the sort of debris you are protecting your floors, surfaces and objects from.
If you are only likely to create a light covering of debris, such as dripping paint or dust from sanding, then the chances are you will only require a medium duty plastic sheet, which comes in 100 micron (400 gauge) clear polythene.
If you’re working in a more ‘heavy duty’ environment, such as on a building site or in the garden, then you may find prefer to use 200 micron (800 gauge) heavy duty plastic sheeting, which will offer more protection to the surfaces from bumps, scratches or scrapes.
Extra thick plastic membrane
Even more durable and robust than standard heavy duty plastic sheeting is damp proof membrane - an extra thick sheet of polythene, weighing in at a minimum of 250 microns (1000 gauge) thick.
Usually made from black or blue recycled polythene, damp proof membrane (DPM) can be used as part of a damp proof course (DPC) to prevent the onset of rising damp in building work, or for other heavy duty waterproofing.
A good damp proof course is fundamental to preventing unwanted moisture from entering the interior space of a building. For this reason, damp proof membrane is quality controlled by the British Board of Agreement (BBA), such keep an eye out for their approval on the product before you buy.
Black plastic sheeting
Black plastic sheeting can be used in the same way as clear plastic sheeting, to protect surfaces during building or renovation work, or as a waterproof membrane. One advantage that black sheeting has over clear sheeting is that it also provides a light-proof cover and so can be useful for both absorbing heat and covering items when security is important.
Where to buy plastic sheeting
Plastic sheeting manufacturers and suppliers include:
Research & Resources
For more information on plastic sheeting or builders rolls, including details of how it is manufactured and the range of protective polythene sheeting available, please visit:
PlasticBags.uk.com: The UK's premier polythene packaging online directory. Retailers can submit items for listing and customers can browse a selection of plastic sheeting websites.
PackagingKnowledge: The online polythene packaging encyclopedia, featuring a wide range of articles and a huge amount of information on plastic sheeting.
Goldstork: Free online directory listing the best of the web, featuring carefully selected information and specialist plastic sheeting websites.
Plastic rolls or polythene rolls?
What is the difference between plastic rolls and polythene rolls? These terms and others like them - including plastic sheeting, builders rolls, poly rolls or polythene film - are often mixed and matched to describe a variety of polythene products. The one thing all of the terms have in common is that they refer to a sheet of plastic - or polythene - that is wound around a central roll and dispensed by unwinding the roll until you have as large a sheet as you need.
Whilst the terms may be interchanged by some people, by and large, in the building trade the term 'plastic rolls' is used to describe plastic sheeting, also known as builders rolls, which is widely used by builders, painters and decorators to protect large areas or objects such as furniture from dust, dirt, stray paint and so on. Damp proof membrane, used to provide a damp proof layer for buildings, is also included in the 'plastic rolls' family.
The term 'polythene rolls' on the other hand, is most often used to describe rolls of polythene film that are used for packaging or wrapping items. These include single layers of film, such as shrink wrap pallet covers, PVC clear wrapping and glossy clear polypropylene wrapping, as well as polythene tubing - also known as layflat tubing - which is used to wrap objects of awkwards shapes and sizes and comes in regular or anti-static polythene.