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How to deal with dust during renovation

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This article originally appeared in the Fall 2014 issue of Cottage Life magazine, now on newsstands.

Renovation doesn’t have to mean dust in every corner of the cottage. Here’s how to control the spread.

Capture dust at its source
A good wet/dry shop vacuum, with a HEPA-rated filter, is the ultimate dust control tool, but if you use it only at the end of the day, you’re missing out. Have a helper hold the hose close to a saw or sander to suck up the dust before it even hits the floor. (Use this tip when you clean the woodstove too. After making sure all embers  are well and truly extinguished, I keep my vac running with the hose poised above the ash bucket to catch airborne particles.)

Seal the area
Peel-and-stick zippers (ZipWall is a popular brand) turn plastic vapourbarrier into dust-blocking doors or walls. For the best seal, wrap the edges of the plastic around thin wood, tack these around the door openings using small finishing nails—and then apply the zippers. 

Cut and sand outdoors
It’s so easy to convince yourself that one quick cut indoors won’t make much mess. But it’s never just one cut, is it? Doing dirty work outside sounds simple—obvious even—yet everyone forgets. 

Plane, don’t sand
A hand plane or scraper makes shavings, not dust—and shavings are always cleaner. Planing is also faster than sanding and less noisy. Before the days of sanders, wood floors were smoothed with specialty floor scrapers that removed tiny curls of wood—still an option today, especially good for remote or off-grid cottages.  

Drywall without dust
CGC Dust Control Drywall Compound is a well-behaved drywall mud that creates very little airborne dust. Smooth joints and patches with a sanding block just like with regular compound, and then take delight as almost all the particles fall straight to the floor.

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