It's important to protect finished floors if you are doing construction on walls or ceilings. If you leave floors uncovered or cover them with inadequate materials, they can get dented, scratched and infused with drywall dust that will be difficult to get rid of. Covering floors thoroughly before beginning any work is the best way to keep them looking new.
The cheapest way to protect your floors is with corrugated cardboard. Salvage some cardboard boxes -- the larger the better -- from local stores. Refrigerator boxes are ideal. Flatten the boxes and cut them to fit snugly over your entire floor. Tape the cardboard together at the seams with duct tape. For added protection, if there's a risk of dropping heavy or sharp objects, cover the floor with two layers of cardboard.
A more expensive but also more durable alternative to cardboard is Masonite. This is a hardboard wood fiber product that you can buy in sheets that are 4-by-8 feet in size and 1/4-inch thick. You can cut Masonite with a saw, or score it with a sharp utility knife and break it. Cover the floor with tightly fitted pieces of Masonite and tape them firmly together and your floor will be well-protected until construction is done.
Foam Rubber Tiles
Norm Abrams of "This Old House" fame suggests using the foam rubber tiles that are used in children's playrooms to protect your floor. These will soften the blow of anything dropped on the floor. If you will be doing a lot of low work that requires crawling around on the floor, these tiles will also make the job a lot easier on your knees.
If you will be working with drywall, you should cover whatever floor covering you have put down with plastic. If you are sanding drywall mud or spackle, the extremely fine dust created by this job will work its way through cardboard, Masonite or foam and take up residence in the grain of your wood floor. Covering the entire floor with plastic and taping the edges of the plastic to the bottoms of the walls is the only way to completely protect your floors from this bothersome dust.
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