A little while back, I did a survey with fellow house renovators, asking them: “What was the most difficult part of renovation life for you?” The answers came back in spades… “Dust!”, “The mess!”, “Living in the rubble and not having anywhere clean to escape to!”
After 2 years renovating our house (see our full 1930s house makeover here), having experienced dust like we’ve never experienced before, we couldn’t agree more. Renovating might look glamorous, but dust can really get you down.
We’ve all heard the saying ‘living in a building site’, which brings to mind unpleasant images of a home in chaos. But for those undertaking a house renovation, seeing your home become more like a builders yard is a big reality. Without adequate preparation, even a small one-room renovation job can result in damage around the house and extensive disruption to your living space and schedules. But, with a few simple steps and a little planning, you can easily isolate the dust to one area for less disruption. Even whole-house projects can be simpler and less stressful, ultimately making your reno a more comfortable one.
So, learning from our mistakes, we’ve rounded up our top tips to help you prepare for the dust and disruption of your home renovation project.
1. Isolate your house renovation work
This approach will be easier on your budgets as well as dust management. If you can, focus on one area or room at a time, isolating the work to a specific area which will make the dust, noise and also logistics of having to empty and clean a space far more manageable. Dust can be a sneaky enemy when it’s flying around a room. It’ll sneak through cracks in doors and work it’s away around the house without you even noticing. There are some fantastic products on the market these days to contain mess, which we wish we explored when we were in the thick of it. Like these pop-up temporary walls which act as dust barriers (or photo backdrop holders!) for smaller areas. We also spotted these dust-proof door barriers on amazon that could be worth a try.
If you’ve got an outside space to work with, use it for any spray or dust-producing jobs (English weather permitting). Take work outside on dry days with as little breeze as possible. Working outside will also help to keep paint and chemical out of your house which is important to keep in mind for children and four-legged friends.
2. Protect yourself
During a house renovation, anyone around the site area becomes a walking dust magnet. They might not be the most attractive but disposable overalls and protective booties can do a lot to stop you carrying mess around your house. Ideally, leave them in the room you’re working on and wear them only when working. You can pick these up for for just a few pounds at your local hardware shop or buy things like shoe covers here.
3. Protect things well
Sometimes, the schedule doesn’t quite go to plan and you’ll have a fresh new carpet before the walls have been painted. Or perhaps you decide you want to keep what you’ve got and work around it. Either way, protective carpet film is a must. We’ve not tried this as we didn’t have any carpet to protect, but things like this adhesive film is worth looking at if you do want to look after flooring while work takes place. Once installed, it shields your flooring from accidents and dirty work boots for the duration of your renovation project and is supposed to be easy to work with.
When prepping for any paint or wallpaper job, masking tape is widely acknowledged to be the best adhesive option as it doesn’t mark surface or leave residue behind. The key to masking tape is quality. Sure, budget shops sell rolls for under £1 but these products often unstick themselves after a matter of minutes so dust, paint and other nasties can slip through, potentially ruining your work and costing you more in the long run. We swear by this frog tape. It gives such a clean line when cutting in.
When it comes to dust sheets, our solid rule is ‘you can never have enough’. Layering over surfaces can help minimise sneaky particles finding their way under the edge of sheets so layer up for maximum protection. Whether you go for cloth or plastic, don’t be afraid to cover everything excessively, you’ll thank yourself later. And have loooads in stock! Heavy duty and light dust sheets. It’s good to have a mix.
4. Wash your rollers in the washing machine!
There is nothing I hated more at the end of a long day painting than having to spend half an hour bent over the bath trying to wash out paint from rollers and paintbrushes, unsuccessfully. A big tip we got from our contractor which worked a charm, is to wash out any excess paint on your rollers, then put them straight in the washing machine on a 15 min rinse & spin. They came out as good as new and saved a lot of huffing and puffing!
*Don’t do what I did and forget to rinse the excess paint out before you put it in the washer! It took me 4 full cycles to get the paint out of the drum… oops!*
5. Store smaller everyday items into dust proof containers
If you’re renovating a kitchen or bathroom while living in, it’s uncomfortable enough without having to faff around with dust all over your cutlery, shampoo bottles, or toothbrush! So be sure to utilise storage boxes with firm lids, to cover any smaller items to save you having to dust individual pieces.
6. Pick the right tools
This tip may seem like a given, but buying tools with quality dust extractors can make the end of day tidy up far easier for you and also minimise floating particles in the air while the work is going on. Again, this is especially important for anyone with sensitive lungs or breathing as they can be irritated long after the work is complete.
Alternatively, if you have room in the budget to stretch to buying something that will do the job for you time and again, it could be worth taking a look at investing in a portable dust extractor for wood chip and fine dust particles.
If you can fit an HEPA filter to your existing vacuum or run an air purifier, you’ll notice huge benefits in air quality, too.
7. Brief your team
As with everyday life, ideas of cleanliness can change from person to person and the same goes for your contractors. Your expectations of the level of maintenance with your chosen contractors, to clean up after themselves at the end of each job or day will differ and we always say it’s no harm to ask your team to leave cups in a basin, or wipe their feet before entering if it’s raining. They are human too, and should understand how difficult it is living in while renovating.
Regardless of who is doing the cleaning when they finish up for the day (you or them), make sure to vacuum before dusting to avoid any damage from gritty particles on fragile surfaces such as glass, and try to lift bigger rubble and place in a bin. I got a bit lazy and our Hetty hoover weighed a tonne with all the rubble!!
Have you got any tips for minimising dust or horror stories dealing with disruption? Share your house renovation experiences in the comments below or drop us a line, we’d love to hear from you!
Thank you so much for reading!
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