"Eric come here quick!"
Not the phrase you want to hear on a paint job.
It doesn't happen often, but this is what you prepare for, the unexpected. The one time you don't prepare is when it will happen.
When painting rooms, I am obsessive about covering every square inch of floor with either paint tarps or red rosin contractor paper. It pays off in a number of ways, we spend almost no time cleaning paint roller splatter off the floor, any plaster or sheetrock repair dust is easily cleaned up, and if one of us happens to step into a drop of paint that has happened onto a tarp, we don't get even more paint on the floor from walking all over with paint on our shoes. The tarps soak up the paint from the sole of the shoe.
Painting a brownstone last week one of the crew accidentally kicked over a gallon of paint, but because we had laid down heavy duty muslin paint tarps, the clean up was easy.
We first scoop up as much paint as we can and put it back into a paint can. You might need to strain that paint if it has sanding debris in it picked up from the tarp. We roll the tarp up into itself and take it outside. We then sop up the rest with paper towels, and lay out the tarp to dry. Latex paint will dry slowly when its thick, but after it dries, you can use the tarp again.
If you are painting more than one room, consider buying muslin tarps instead of plastic tarps. Plastic is slippery to walk on, muslin paint tarps are much better and last for years. Be sure to write your name on your tarps, your friends will borrow them, and its a subtle way of reminding your friends whose tarps they are.
What are your paint catastrophes? tell us below
I also like to write "TOP" on my tarps to keep them from getting flipped over while moving room to room. It keeps the wet paint on top of the tarp from getting on the floor of the next room.