Here are a few tips on how to protect your crafting surface without costly expense. Keep in mind if using a heat gun or glue gun you don't want to expose your wax paper or contact paper to the heat for an extended period of time.It will probably melt.
1-Buy a roll of contact paper and adhere it to your work surface. I think some dollar stores sell them. When it gets all used up you can easily remove it and apply a new sheet. You don't necessarily have to cover the entire table area either.
2-Use a sheet of wax paper taped on to your work surface. Even if just temporarily it will help protect the surface. Especially when crafting with items like paint, inks & glitter.
3-Go to your local hardware store like a Lowe's or Home Depot and purchase a single 12x12 marble, ceramic or porcelain tile square. Often times they allow this as a sample purchase or when they have tile squares that don't make up a full case they discount them deeply as in .77 cents. Before I got my craft sheet 2 years ago that is what I did and I dare say it worked quite well. I purchased a marble tile. It stood up great to the heat gun and the glue gun. It cleaned well too. When I got my craft mat I gave the marble 12x12 square to my former neighbor who swears by it til' this day. She won't spend the money on a craft mat.
4-One other thing you can use in place of a craft mat specifically for when you use your heat embossing gun or glue gun is a silicone oven baking mat. They sell them at Big Lots for much cheaper then a ranger craft mat & it works super well!
I hope you find this helpful.
Until next time!