Best Practices for Controlling Dust During a Remodeling Project

Remodeling, Demolition, Drywall, Contractor, Jobsite Dust

It's no surprise that home remodeling is dusty business. Renovation dust is not only bad for your health, it’s a major nuisance. Without proper control efforts, dust can settle throughout the residence — leaving homeowners the job of cleaning it up weeks after the remodel has been completed.

Here’s a few facts for you to consider whether you’re a homeowner starting a remodeling project, or a seasoned contractor.

  • 10 times more dust can be present during a remodel. 
  • Some construction dusts can cause adverse health effects such as silicosis, kidney disease, and cancer.
  • Most homeowners choose to live in their home during a remodel and expect the contractor to make efforts to control the dust.

Homeowners are more aware than ever of the health effects and general inconvenience caused by renovation dust. Because of this, it’s more important than ever to have a dust control plan. Whether you're a homeowner or contractor, be sure to follow this list of best practices for improving livability during a remodeling project.

Use a Collective Approach

First, I think it should be stated that there is no miracle solution to controlling dust. A proper dust control plan requires many levels. No one method will completely solve the problem, but when you use these practices together you can make a big difference. Dust control doesn’t have to be a losing battle, a truly livable remodel is possible!

Install Dust Barriers

construction site, interior renovation

Some dust gathering in your workspace is inevitable, but that doesn’t mean you can’t prevent dust from reaching other parts of the house. A few methods can be employed to prevent as much dust from leaving as possible.

  • Dust Barriers - Use poly plastic sheeting to section off the work area by taping it to the ceiling and walls. Dust Barrier poles can really help with install time for large areas. We find that 4-mil poly has ample durability for makeshift walls. Also be sure to assign one entrance and exit to limit areas for the dust to escape. The ZipDoor by Zipwall is great for this.

  • Seal HVAC Vents - Tape HVAC vents closed with painters tape. Unsealed HVAC vents will surely spread nasty dust all over the residence when the system kicks on.  

Remove or Protect Belongings

plastic covering furniture

The best way to prevent dust from gathering on personal items is to remove them from the area. Otherwise, securely cover the furniture or other belongings with poly sheeting and tape to prevent as much dust as possible from settling.

Use Air Scrubbing Equipment to Capture Airborne Dust

airborne dust, air scrubber, air filtration, construction dust, indoor building

Often, an Air Scrubber is the most hassle free way to reduce construction dust. All you have to do is bring it into the work area, turn it on, and voila! Your jobsite dust will be reduced. By constantly exchanging the air in the workspace, any airborne dust can be removed before it is breathed in or settles throughout the residence. There are many options and manufactures, with one great option being the Dust One. The Dust One has some innovative features that reduces the cost associated with a traditional air scrubber by eliminating replacement filters.

Create “Negative Pressure”

negative pressure

An air scrubber is also important to create negative pressure in the workspace. When vented outside, an air scrubber will create a continual draw of air inward to your workspace or a “negative pressure zone”. For negative pressure to work best, you need to seal the workspace as best as possible with poly barriers (discussed above). This will channel more air inward through gaps in protection like your entrance/exit, thus making it much harder for dust to escape at these locations.

Use the Dust One for Demolition Jobs

interior demolition, drywall demo, home remodeling, Construction dust

The Dust One doubles as an air scrubber and dust extractor for your sledge hammer. It’s maneuverability and MemoryForm inlet hose make it easy for you to capture dust generated during the dustiest construction phase — Demolition. It’s cyclonic technology meets OSHA standards while eliminating filter replacement costs. Traditional air scrubbers will quickly clog during demolition making them effectively useless for this phase.

Vacuum Equipped Tools

Although air scrubbers are an effective way to reduce construction dust, it’s always best to capture the dust before it becomes airborne. Many power tools can be purchased with a vacuum collection port including drills, saws, and sanders. Always use vacuum equipped tools when possible. This method is not possible for some tasks including demolition (no vacuum port on a sledge hammer) which is one reason why an air scrubber is a helpful tool to have on hand.

Protect the floors

plastic covering on floors

Dirty shoes are a great way to damage the floor and spread dust throughout the residence. Placing a poly sheet at the work area entrance will prevent floor damage and reduce the amount of dust that will stick to shoes. We find 6-mil poly is required for floor coverings to ensure durability. You can also place a welcome mat to wipe your shoes on as you leave.

Create a Jobsite Dust Control Plan

A proper dust control plan will be noticed by your clients and set you apart from your competitors. Your workers will be safer and happier, too. Following these best practices takes time and money, so you need a plan to budget properly. What I recommend is creating a written document that lists what you expect and making it available to your workers, even if it’s just yourself. The document should list how to specifically set up containment, what actions require special consideration, and daily responsibilities like end of day cleaning. This way your workers and yourself will be held accountable and there will be no confusion on what’s the right thing to do.

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