Prepping a room for drywall dust

Prepping a room for drywall dust

If conventional non-particulate extraction methods are being used to sand and finish new wallboard then careful consideration should be given to dust management. There are two types of wallboard dust that need to be dealt with. 1) The drywall particulate that becomes airborne and eventually settles on the floor. 2) The drywall dust that sticks to the wall and ceiling after sanding.

Dealing with airborne wallboard particulate

Covering the entire surface of the floor with canvas, construction paper or ram board is your basic first step. Any furniture, fixtures, or electronics should be wrapped in plastic.

Plastic enclosures like Zip Wall should be used at entrance/exit points of the room being sanded. Keep in mind that board dust is extremely light becomes airborne easily and follows air currents wherever they lead. Zip wall enclosures create a great seal but every time you zip it open you breach that seal and board dust will travel outside the enclosed area. Try to sand the room and a full sweep and vacuum all the particulate before breaching the Zip Wall seal.

Drywall dust
Prevention for drywall particulate, keep drywall dust concealed in a confined area.

If you are sanding a room with an exterior door, then setting up a box fan, with the air flowing outside, is enough to expel a fair amount of gyprock dust.

It is also important to cover all vents and air inlets in the room being sanded. Air inlets if left uncovered will draw air into the HVAC system and redistribute drywall dust all over the house through the ventilation.

Put some painters tape over electrical outlets too and protect the electrical system.

Removing the gyprock dust from the walls and ceilings after sanding

Removing the drywall dust that sticks to the walls and ceilings after sanding is a surprisingly controversial issue. One school of thought is that the dust should be left and will mix with the new drywall primer. Another school of thought is that the dust should be removed so that the smoothest possible finish can be achieved.

Wet Sanding is also an alternative. This is when you are using a sanding sponge that is wetted. This is a slow process though because the sponge keeps on filling up with plaster that have to be cleaned out. This might be okay for small spots but not for large drywall sanding.

Prepping a room for drywall dust
Power drywall sanding tool preventing much drywall dust in the air.

Some professionals want all the dust removed and some say just the majority of dust should be brushed off.

At Mississauga Handyman we use the Festool Drywall Sander LHS-E 225 EQ PLANEX which extracts the dust during the sanding process. This leaves the walls, ceilings and the air in the room dust free. It is by far the cleanest most professional way to sand and finish drywall.

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But most homeowners will not have dust extracting electric sanders. So here are a number of methods of removing and partially removing the drywall dust that sticks to walls and ceilings when you sand drywall with conventional non-dust extraction methods.

Partially removes dust:

Brushing dust toward the floor with a broom. This creates a plume of dust throughout the room.
Brushing dust with a slightly damp mop or cloth. This is a cleaner method as much of the dust absorbs into the cloth.
Vacuum dust with a shop vac with a brush attachment. This is a fairly quick and clean method, but keep in mind that blowing exhaust air of the shop vac can end up blowing more dust around the room and creating the dreaded gyprock dust plume.

Fully Removes Gyprock Dust

The only method I know of (except for using the Festool dust extraction sander) is to spray a fine mist of water onto the walls and ceiling of new drywall that has been freshly sanded. The drywall dust that is clinging to the walls and ceiling is dried joint compound that reactivates gets absorbed into the walls and ceilings when it comes into contact with water. This method requires a careful hand and some real craftsmanship. The water can be run through a paint sprayer or a garden sprayer. A fairly fine mist is desired.

If you liked this post you may also want to check out Dust Free Drywall repair.

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