Stop dust in its tracks with these DIY tips to protect your home from dust and damage during remodeling projects.
The home remodeling process often means construction dust and debris finding its way into every little nook and cranny of your home. But you can reduce the dust and mess by following these easy tips for preparing and protecting your home during your next remodeling project.
Dust goes everywhere air flows, so the key to
stopping dust is stopping airflow. A loose curtain
of plastic hung with a few
strips of tape won’t do the job.
Instead, make your dust barrier
as airtight as possible.
Completely seal the top and
sides with tape. Taping to
walls is usually easier than
taping to woodwork. If you
can’t seal the bottom edge
with tape, lay a board across
it. Light plastic (1 mil or so) is
fine for most jobs.
If you need to pass through the dust
barrier, use heavier 4- or 6-
mil plastic and add an adhesive-backed
zipper. These are available at home centers and lumberyards.
Construction dust sucked into return air ducts can plug
your furnace filter. Even worse, small particles can pass
through the filter and coat every room in the house with a
blanket of fine dust when the blower turns on. Air supply ducts
can be a problem too—dust that settles inside will come blasting
out when your heating/cooling system starts up. You can
close the damper on a supply register, but it won’t seal out dust
as effectively as plastic and tape.
Use a medium-adhesion tape for most jobs. These
tapes have names like “Safe Release” or “Clean
Release.” There are also low-adhesion tapes for delicate
surfaces like wallpaper, and high-adhesion tapes for
hard-to-mask surfaces like brick. A painting store often
has the best tape selection.
Remove the tape as soon as possible. The adhesive
bond strengthens over time. Depending on the type of
adhesive, masking tapes are meant to stay in place
from one to 14 days. Check and heed the label.
A fan blowing out the window
helps to keep dust levels down,
and it creates a slight vacuum in the
work area. That way, any gaps in your
dust barrier will let air flow into the
work zone, but dust-laden air can’t
sneak into surrounding rooms. This
works so well, in fact, that you may
not even need a dust barrier for light dust
projects. Just be sure to close
large gaps around the fan with
cardboard or plastic so wind gusts
don’t blow the dust right back inside.
The exhaust stream from a shop
vacuum can raise more dust than the
vacuum sucks up. And small particles (like
drywall dust) can sail right through the
vacuum filter to form a fine dust cloud. You
can solve both problems with some extra
vacuum hose: Connect a hose to the
exhaust port and run it outside, or set the
vacuum outside and run the hose inside.
If you want a filter that traps even the tiniest
dust particles, try a high-efficiency version
such as the CleanStream filter. These filters
are pricey ($25 to $35), but they’re easy to
clean and last for years.
Ten feet of 2-1/2 in. vacuum hose costs
about $20 at home centers. CleanStream
filters are available at
home centers or visit cleanstream.com
A hammer knocked off a ladder can dent hard wood flooring, chip
ceramic tile or even puncture vinyl, and heavy foot
traffic will grind grit into the floor. For protection
against falling tools (and just about everything else),
cut sheets of 1/8-in. hardboard to fit the room and
duct-tape them together at the seams. Also tape
around the perimeter with masking tape so grit can’t
get underneath the hardboard and
scratch the floor.
For quicker protection
of hard flooring,
use strips of rosin
paper taped at the seams
and around the perimeter.
While rosin paper can’t
match the impact and puncture
protection of hardboard, two or
three layers of it provide good
defense against scratches and spills.
A 4 x 8-ft. sheet of 1/8-in. thick
hardboard costs about $7 at home centers.
A roll of rosin paper costs about $8 and
covers about 400 sq. ft.
Protecting stairs is tricky
because you don’t want to
use anything that will cause a slip
or trip. Rosin paper is a good
choice for wood stairs because
you can crease it over the edge of
the tread and tape it securely
around the entire perimeter. You
can also tape separate sheets to
the risers. For carpeted stairs, use
a long, narrow dropcloth (called
a runner). Secure the runner by
driving small nails right through
the carpet and into the treads.
With or without a helper, cardboard is a good
defense against accidents. You can wrap
door jambs with it, cover up wall corners,
or even shield large sections of wall along
main pathways. To make sure the
cardboard stays in place, crease it
thoroughly to fit corners and don’t be
stingy with the masking tape. Doors can
take a beating during remodeling too. The
best protection is to remove them from the
work zone. If removing a door isn’t practical, clad it with cardboard.
Whether you’re moving
a ladder or stacking
2x4s, it’s all too easy to bang up
baseboards. But protecting
them is simple: Just cut strips
of cardboard about an inch
wider than your baseboard, set
them against the wall and tape
them top and bottom. If
nearby walls are at risk, don’t
hesitate to tape cardboard over
them as well. It’ll save you from
having to spend a weekend
Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.
Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here's a list.
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