5 easy ways to prevent dust spread during a build

Published: October 25, 2019

Closeup crop hands of young woodworker making wooden detail and using electric sanding machine at workplace covered with dust near equipment Photo by Comeback Images/Shutterstock

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 turn plastic vapour barrier 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.

Pro tip
A fan in an open window will expel dust, but if that option’s not available, tape a HEPA-rated furnace filter over the intake side of a box fan. The longer the fan runs, the cleaner the air becomes.

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