How to Keep Dust to a Minimum While Painting Your Home

Painting and decorating with a roller and tray on a set of metal step ladders with cans of paint and a dust sheet in the background

Written by My Home Handyman

February 3, 2022

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Whether you are undergoing a full home renovation or just looking to make a change, painting can have a huge impact. Simply changing up the colour of a wall can give it new life and make it feel bright and new again.

Unfortunately, there are more than a few factors that can contribute to a less-than-desirable finish. Primary among those factors is dust. Keeping dust to a minimum while painting is important. It is easier to contain when there are no other renovations happening. Just make sure to wipe surfaces down thoroughly. When it comes to full renovations, you can try taping off areas with plastic sheeting or strategize the demolition.

The Problem with Dust

The key to getting an even layer of paint is to ensure that the surface you are painting is free and clear of debris, dirt, and dust. While dust may not seem like a big deal because it isn’t easily seen, it can cause major issues while painting.

When the area, a wall most of the time, is dirty or dusty, the paint will have trouble adhering. Even if it does stick, it will do so in an uneven manner. Little bubbles, which have the appearance of pocks almost, will creep up all over the wall.

Not only do the little bubbles look unsightly, but they easily peel away after the paint dries. What you are left with is peeled paint all across the wall. All of this could have been avoided by wiping down the walls and ensuring minimal dust.

How to Keep Dust to a Minimum

There are two ways to approach this. The first is when you are simply painting a room, not taking on some greater project. Because of this, we are dealing with standard dust. That is far different from the dust kicked up by renovations, which can be significant to deal with.

Let’s take a look at both instances and how to keep the issue of dust at bay.

For Renovations

When you have renovations going on, there is a lot more dust to contend with. The more dust and the more means for which it can spread means more havoc to contend with. Thankfully, there are a few helpful tips you can follow during renovations that can help.

Tip 1: Cover Your Vents

This is meant to be a short-term solution while you paint; don’t leave your vents covered for an extended period if your HVAC is running. That said, one of the easiest methods for transferring dust through the air.

By keeping your vents covered, you can ensure that there are no issues with spreading dust through the ventilation. When you are done, it is still recommended that you change out your air filter before regular use.

Tip 2: Utilize Windows

If the room in which you are working has windows, you can make the most of them by creating good airflow. Most of the time, a good cross breeze is adequate enough to carry some of the dust from the room.

If you want to go a little further, you can create positive pressure. Simply install a box fan into one of the open windows while leaving the other one cracked open. Just make sure the room is sealed tightly or you could be dealing with some dust caking.

Tip 3: Make Cuts Outside

While it may be convenient to make your material cuts in the room where they will go, it can lead to a lot of dust. Another thing to consider is that dust doesn’t stop when the demolition ends.

To cut down on the amount of dust in the room, make all of your cuts outside. Not only will it help to cut down on dust, but it is better for keeping contaminants from getting into your lungs.

Tip 4: A Shop Vac is Your Friend

Clean-up has to happen at some point, right? Why not clean as you go to keep dust at a minimum. Having a shop vac in the room allows you to vacuum up large piles of dust as you go, ensuring that it doesn’t have a chance to settle without your knowing.

While it can be a bit of a pain, you have the reassurance of knowing that the room is as clean as it can be. That should ensure more even painting as you go, resulting in less re-painting along  the way.

When Simply Painting

If you plan on simply painting a room or two, you have a lot less to contend with. Sure, you still have dust to deal with but it isn’t nearly as bad. It also means far less preparation is required before applying your paint.

My Home Handyman painter on scaffolding painting room

In order to limit dust as you paint, there are two simple steps to follow. Skipping these steps will result in all the common issues with painting a dirty surface. Not only that, but you’ll have to do it all again from scratch.

1) Sweep and vacuum

The simplest way to keep dust at bay is to do a cursory sweep and vacuum before you begin. For most people, there probably is a fair bit of dust but nothing too crazy. Sweeping and vacuuming should get rid of the bulk of the issue.

2) Wipe down the walls and trim

When you have finished sweeping and vacuuming, make sure to wipe down the walls, trim, and any other surfaces that you plan to paint. Even if it seems like the surface is immaculate, there is a good chance that dust has collected in some way. By wiping down the surfaces you plan to paint, you ensure that there is no dust settling between the wall and the paint.

After you have wiped down the surface you plan on painting, get right into painting. This minimizes the chance that dust could kick up and get in the way. Stop to wipe down each new wall or surface before you continue painting.

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