10 Ways to Keep Dust Under Control While Remodeling

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About: My name is Aaron Massey and I'm the DIY guy/ handyman behind mrfixitdiy.com. I focus on making fun DIY project and Home Improvement videos for a digital audience.

Intro: 10 Ways to Keep Dust Under Control While Remodeling

One of the fastest ways drive yourself or spouse crazy during a remodel is for dust to find its way into all the corners of your home. Keeping dust contained is an important, yet often overlooked, part of any remodel, and you need to be prepared before you even begin your project. Here, I'm going to outline 10 steps you can take to make sure you keep dust under control.

If you like this project, be sure to visit my website at mrfixitdiy.com for more DIY projects, how-to's, and tips for your many home improvement projects.

Disclaimer: This project is sponsored by Trimaco, LLC. All views and opinions expressed herein are my own.

Step 1: Budget for Dust Containment

This might seem like a no-brainer, but you might be surprised how many people forget to include dust containment as part of their budget. It's not terribly expensive, and likely won't cost more than a couple hundred dollars, even on larger projects. If you fail to account for this, however, it could end up costing you just as much, if not more, at the end in both time and money to clean it all up.

Step 2: Utilize Plastic

Before getting started on any demo work, make sure the area is sealed off from the rest of the home. A fun way to think of it is to imagine you're part of the CDC, and you must protect your home from anything inside the enclosed area.

For this, plastic is going to be your best friend. Use something relatively sturdy. I recommend anything from a 4mm to 6mm thick plastic to serve as protective barriers. I suggest stapling the edges to keep it held tight, then you can seal it off with duct tape or painter's tape. Keep a close eye on your plastic barriers. If there are any tears or cuts, no matter how small, seal it up immediately. You don't want any "outbreaks!"

Step 3: Strategize Your Demolition

If you are going to be doing any demolition during the remodel, such as taking out any walls or floors, be sure to start in the areas on the outskirts of the house first, then work your way inward toward the separating wall. The longer you can keep a permanent barrier between rooms, the better.

Once you are ready to take out that final wall, build a temporary plastic wall using some of the thick plastic discussed earlier. You can also use dust containment poles to help prop it up. Do NOT take this down until your project is complete. This is now your main protection from letting dust into the rest of the home.

Step 4: Utilize Your Windows

If you're lucky enough to have a window in the room you are remodeling, be sure to use it as much as you can. It can be used to remove demo materials, or, if it's large enough, move in and out of the building yourself. You can also create a positive pressure room by installing a box fan in the open window to help the air continue to circulate.

Cardboard and a little tape will work just fine for this. Crack another window open, and the fan will keep a good air flow throughout. Again, make sure the room is sealed up tight, as there's likely to be a breeze, and remove any screens on your window, or else they might become caked in dust.

Step 5: Cover Heat & A/C Vents

One of the fastest ways for dust to circulate through your house is through air ducts and registers. Not to mention it will also wreck your air filters. Close off any of these passages that you can and then seal them with plastic and tape.

Even with the area sealed off, I still recommend you change out your air filter once the project is completed. It's something you should do every few months anyway, so after a remodel is as good a time as any to replace it.

Step 6: Create Single Entry/Exit Points

There is no faster way for dust to get around your house unnoticed than for you and your crew to be moving through a bunch of different entryways. Limit access to one doorway and seal off all other doors. Again, use windows as the primary way of removing materials if you can, and just try to keep movement throughout the house limited.

At your access point, install a solid dust containment door kit with a zipper. Keep it closed as much as you can. Even leaving it open for a little while can allow plenty of dust to slip through.

Step 7: Protect Your Floors

Taking the time to protect and cover your floors both inside and outside your project area will save you a lot of time and headaches in the long run. You want to create singular pathways to and from your project area and the bathroom you plan to use.

For wood or tiled floors, I recommend something like X-Board from Trimaco. It's a simple way to roll out a pathway, and can be held down with tape. With carpet, it's sometimes hard to tell exactly how much dust can get into it, so utilize some protective carpet film and press down. If you have kids or pets, you don't want them getting sick from dust that sneaked its way into the carpet.

Step 8: Keep Your Boots On

This may seem counter intuitive, but I recommend you keep your boots on. Taking them on and off will quickly become a hassle, so it's simpler to get protection for them.

Grab some shoe guards and use them constantly. They will keep dust from sticking to your shoes, and can be easily disposed of after work is done for the day. If you really want to invest in this, I'd recommend trying out the E-Z Floor Guard system from Trimaco. This thing contains a sticky protective plastic for the bottom of your shoes. Just step in, pull back, and tear it off. It's a fast way to get right back to work, and does a great job preventing dust from being tracked anywhere you don't want it.

Step 9: Cut Material Outside

Many people think that dust containment stops with the demo portion, so they will take down all their protective measures. Unfortunately, few things generate more dust than cutting and sanding drywall. It's a large reason why working with drywall isn't one of my favorite things.

In recommend doing as much of the cutting outside for drywall and then bringing the pieces in afterwards. Keep your protective barriers up until everything is complete.

Step 10: Keep a Shop Vac Handy

As I said in the last step, sanding drywall can be an annoying generator of dust. Most pros don't have too much trouble with this, but if you're an amateur like me, I'd recommend get a drywall sanding attachment for your shop vac.

Keep that shop vac handy throughout the project, and do your best to clean up dust as you go. The more you keep dust levels low during the project, the less cleanup you'll have at the end. I recommend, at the very least, sucking up the work area dust at the end of each work day.

And, of course, if you're going to be generating a lot of dust, you should always have protective masks and/or respirators on anytime you're in the work area.

Step 11: And That's It!

And those are my 10 suggestions for keeping dust down during a remodel. Dust can be a real problem if you don't keep it contained, so doing everything you can to stay on top of it will give you a lot of peace of mind.

Hopefully you found them helpful for your projects, and check out the video for more details and examples. If you want to see some more suggestions I have for some of your projects, check out the links below.

5 DIY Plumbing Tools Every Homeowner Should Own

5 DIY Electrical Tools Every Homeowner Should Own

And of course, I hope you check out my site to see more projects, suggestions, and fun ideas. Thanks for reading, I hope you learned something, and I'll see you next time!

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    21 Discussions

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    spark master

    2 months ago

    I have a crappy old shop vac and I put it outside my Gay-Raj when I use it, it make a puff plus it just blows air around, and the noise. if it is just 1 room put it outside with a longer hose through hole in window cardboard.

    I know that is a reach but with an extention cord you can turn it on/off.

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    spark master

    2 months ago

    Another thought, if walls are so bad you think well I will just ripm out and redo the sheet rock, don't do that. Use 1/4 inch sheet rock, schmear compound on the iside, immediately b4 screwing it up, and laminate. Save dirt/dust makes for more solid walls and ceilings. By me 3/8 sheetrock is used, it is flimsy and over time is brittle and not strong, it sags. Every place I could, certain inner walls and ceilings I just installed myself or made the rockers laminate . I stood there and watched them to be sure they did what I paid them to do. The schmear of compound really makes it tight to the ceiling as it dries. One of the rockers said he had never seen it done, he came back after it was finished. He went up the stairs to get an eye on the ceiling , originally it looked a bit like sagged cloth off the ceiling. I paid for 5/8 sheetrock and schmeared compound. The taper was ok I followed him up and skim coated and wet sanded. I called the GC back to show him. They loved the effect, very flat ceilings (It did need longer screws), perfect finish. If I had let him pull down the ceiling the dirt would have been obnoxious. Double sheeted walls are very strong and while not punch proof. You don't want to punch my livingroom wall, I think you break a knuckle or two. 3/8 plus 5/8 walls added up to 1 inch plaster wall. Plus I insulate all walls even interior ones for sound as well as fire stop.The GC who did my 2nd floor expansion was confused by insulated interior walls. I pointed out I had kids and this would make the house quieter, also warmer.

    2 replies
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    paul.f.melespark master

    Reply 2 months ago

    Ditto the double thickness SheetRock for sag/ strength.

    For soundproofing, think of your tin-can telephone..... 2 diaphragms connected by a tight string. The SheetRock on each side of the 2x4 studs is a tin-can, and the 2x4s are the rigid string connecting them. The cavities are not the conductors of the sound.
    Solution is separately framed walls, 2x3s on 24 inch centers, with studs alternately spaced/offset every 12 inches. One inch space between the 2 rows of sill plates. Now there is no "string" connecting the diaphragms. Filling the cavity makes a small improvement.
    Not my research.... Saw it long ago when designing our 2nd house.

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    spark masterpaul.f.mele

    Reply 2 months ago

    I like the idea but I could not do that here. If I had a really big house where the walls are more then 2X4 studs , it would be easier. But my house is really quiet so it must be working, perhaps 2X3 studs would be nicer, but I had neither time, nor extra cash. And this would make wiring much nicer NO DRILLING, BX or Romex friendly!! Well through the head or plate sure nice system. I have seen that in NYC proper in sound staging. But a hollow space still conducts and if nothing else it is firestop. Were you NYFD?

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    raiderdk

    3 months ago

    I'm just curious, 4-6mm isn't too thick for a plastic cover? or I'm missing something?

    4 replies
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    M.J2raiderdk

    Reply 2 months ago

    I think the were thinking 4-6 mil, not mm.

    Sheet plastic thickness is rated in mil (thousandths), 4 mil = 0.4064mm and 6 mil =0.6096mm.

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    wdancerraiderdk

    Reply 3 months ago

    It should be 4-6 mils (thousandths of an inch).

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    paul.f.melewdancer

    Reply 2 months ago

    Roger that. FYI, 1 mm is about 40 mils, so 5 mm is 200 mils.

    Someday, we'll all use one measuring system.

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    raiderdkwdancer

    Reply 3 months ago

    That makes more sense, thanks :)

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    spark master

    2 months ago

    put a piece of rug infont of all doorways spray with water, We did this on countless job sites in manhattan where we had to be on a finished floor. It is cheap and if you are ripping out the rugs it works nicely,as it is free and disposable.

    DRYWALL SANDING Dust remediation. Take a bucket 1/2 fill with clear clean plain old water, use sponges or rags as the "Sandpaper" soak them an just rub them on dry joint compound, it is incredible, go easy. Keep rinsing your "sand paper". My wife begs me to never use true sand paper unless it is the end. I did an entire room all the walls and ceiling and it looks perfect, very little dust , and near perfect results.

    "wet sanding" give incredible results super smooth. As far as shopvac sanding systems, why have noise until maybe the final sanding with 400-600 grit. Then before priming bring in the shopvac and suck the walls. And do prime coat with actual primer.The paintjob will look wonderful.

    fast dry compound mix,,,,,,, work in some POP, plain old plaster. You will also add enough water to work it, and you have limited pot time with added plaster, BUT if you are doing the first coat, actual joint filling with paper tape/gause-net tape, have a helper making it as you go this will set up so fast you might get job recoated before your wife realizes you bough an extra case of brewski's to fill the free time. This coat should be workerd in deep so wet sanding works. But even if you must dry sand the time you saved is worth it, and subsequent coats are thin water sandable and fast.I skim coat with compound/plaster every wall if new, if there are lots of patches repairs then that wall also gets skimmed as well as a ceiling t or wall that is alligatored. I have done this in 20 rooms.

    Again do use real paint primer before finish coat. Wet sanding is the best kept secret no more.

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    paul.f.melespark master

    Reply 2 months ago

    Ditto. Doing this for years. Way more effective than vacuum.

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    smashing

    2 months ago

    A simple box fan with a furnace filter or 2 bungee corded to the back can make a huge difference too

    2 replies
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    spark mastersmashing

    Reply 2 months ago

    Thank you I was going to post that one as well, it is also good for mosquito/fly control outside during parties or around livestock. And therera piece of old screen works wonders as well

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    NightFiresmashing

    Reply 2 months ago

    This will help the fan last much longer too, especially with drywall dust.

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    Blue Hawaii

    2 months ago

    I'm a third generation general contractor, and will say that these are all great tips and very well laid out in the video. I know that you are sponsored by Trimaco, and some of their products are amazing, but the zipper door is very hard to open when your hands are full. I suggest the magnetic door from Fast Cap and a HEPA filter on the shop vacuum. Also, when removing ceramic tile and thinset, employ a company that has a dustless HEPA system. My current project had 1700 sf of tile removed and we estimated 1700 lbs of dust was contained in the vacuum bags that otherwise would have been lofted into the air and settled in every nook and crannie of the house. The owners couldn't thank me enough.

    CapitalTile04.jpgCapitalTile03small.jpgDustDoorSmall01.jpgDustDoorSmall02.jpg
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    Kineticarts

    2 months ago on Step 4

    Great instructable but perhaps you misspoke when you mentioned the window fan keeping positive pressure in the workspace. Actually negative pressure is the key.
    Because perfection is an absolute and therefore unattainable, there will still be air leaks between the living area and the workspace. So negative pressure will draw clean air into the workspace rather than otherwise.

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    NightFireKineticarts

    Reply 2 months ago

    I noticed that's how it was worded also, but the photo shows negative pressure being used (the fan is blowing out)

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    DebbieW138

    Tip 2 months ago on Step 6

    If you can't find a zippered door manufactured for this purpose, maybe you can use plastic and duct tape to adapt a hanging clothes storage unit? I just randomly pulled this link off the net to illustrate what I am talking about, I have no idea if this would work: https://www.walmart.com/ip/Rubbermaid-Portable-Garment-Closet-60-In/17045895?wmlspartner=wlpa&adid=22222222227000953830&wl0=&wl1=g&wl2=c&wl3=40344171272&wl4=pla-78308649992&wl5=1019457&wl6=&wl7=&wl8=&wl9=pla&wl10=8175035&wl11=online&wl12=17045895&wl13=&veh=sem

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    wyldecent

    3 months ago

    Wish I'd known all this years ago when remodeling. Great tips.

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    Glumgad

    3 months ago

    Oh, yes! I just finished a reconstruction work at my parents apartment.

    There was a lot of dust )))