How do you get rid of a layer of dust from remodeling?

CT_NewbieOctober 24, 2013

We've been painting, refinishing and staining the floors and are doing a gut reno of the kitchen. There's a layer of dust everywhere. More so in the rooms that adjoin the bathroom where we retiled but also in other rooms upstairs and of course, in rooms connecting to the kitchen.

First I gave the floor a quick sweep. Then I mopped but still dust and you can see the streaks from the mop. After reading posts about how to clean hardwoods, I vacuumed but there was still dust so I mopped again. But even after I mopped with warm water, I still noticed dust (it would appear on the kids clothes and when I wiped my finger on the floor). And you can see dirt on the mop even after it's been rung out. I then used a microfiber mop and saw some dust accumulate. But there is still is a very thin layer of dust here and there and I want to put in area rugs soon. Am I going to have to go on my hands and knees with a damp rag? I haven't even gotten to the blinds or the baseboard or walls. What do I need to do to get the place thoroughly cleaned and does this fall beyond the housekeeper purvey? I have young children and lots of allergies. We changed the air filters a few weeks ago.

I am also wondering if I should buy a professional cleaners' pail on wheels since we now have so much hardwood or if I invest in a steamer. We still have to refinish the downstairs floors so I am expecting more dust/debris

Thank you!

Please advise.

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Why is dust getting everywhere? Are you aware that construction dust contains numerous regulated toxins and carcinogens? Lead, asbestos, silica, gypsum, and any kind of fine particulate dust (even wood) are a serious health hazard.

You need some proper containment. It's basic professional practice to keep remodelling dust completely contained. If your contractor is not doing this, get a competent contractor. If this is a DIY job, educate yourself.

Setting up a containment only takes an hour or two at the most. There are all kinds of products. Check out Zipwall to get the idea.

A shop vac can be connected to the containment area to create a slight negative pressure. This draws fresh air into the work zone, and keeps the little dust particles from floating out of the containment

Here is a link that might be useful: zipwall dust containment

    Bookmark   October 24, 2013 at 1:16AM
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In the future, contain the dust to the work area, and dry-vac with a good shop-vac and a fine particle filter (the walls, too).

As for the slurry that seems to have been smeared everywhere, I'd probably keep wiping it with damp cloths, mop, etc. until it's clean. While we're at it, find out which floor cleaners are proper for your wood floor. My flooring guy says "oil soap" is not one of them, although it's sold for that purpose.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2013 at 7:46AM
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HEPA vac, then washing on hands & knees with vinegar and a wrung-dry sponge (effective on drywall dust) and hand-drying with a microfiber. Repeat as needed.
Once the floors are clean and dust-free you can use the proprietary wood floor cleaner of your choice (just not Oil Soap, pleeze) without making it worse (dust+soap embedded in the cracks and pores)

    Bookmark   October 24, 2013 at 8:46AM
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A professional cleaning crew is WELL worth the expense post remodel.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2013 at 9:13AM
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Thank you! They do have plastic on various entryways. However, for the kids room, they were working on the inside Jack N Jill bathroom and going back and forth for the tiling. They took the doors off for painting and since it is a narrow space they didn't have plastic there the whole time.

There's going to be a lot more dust downstairs because the painters have to sand the trim/wainscotting. The main staircase also has a somewhat long open railed area on top (vs. just a doorway) so I can see dust getting into the hall way upstairs

The flooring people said to just use warm water with a damp mop. On occasion add a little vinegar if there's grease/food. Sombreil, sounds like a lot of work! blech. GreenDesigns, yes, I agree with needed professional help but what do I look under? I would wnat someone who specializes in new construction/remodelling cleaning vs. a local housekeeper or cleaning service, right? I'm worried the local cleaner will miss stuff or will do the regular cleaning and still there will be dust left. What sort of rate do they charge per hour?

Also, what should be done to protect my brand new cabinets from the flooring and painting work? Do I ask the contractor to wrap them in plastic? Should I ask the floor guy to set up a shop vac when they sand the floors?


    Bookmark   October 24, 2013 at 11:44AM
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You need to find a cleaning company that offers construction clean-up. More of a commercial cleaning company rather than basic household help.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2013 at 6:45PM
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Holy cow. What's so difficult about cleaning up? It's not rocket science.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2013 at 10:11PM
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Vacuum, vacuum, vacuum, with a good vacuum. Do you have central vac? Once you get the dust wet it will be more difficult to clean up.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2013 at 7:17AM
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After we remodeled the showroom, we hired a pro cleaning crew that specialized in post construction cleaning to come in and blitz the space. You need specially made HEPA vacs to vacuum up drywall dust and not clog up the filters of a "regular" homeowner grade vac and not kill the vacuum. Drywall dust turns to mud really quickly and gets into every crack and crevice (like the grain of your wood floor) if you use the wrong product to dust it with. It took 120 man hours for our showroom (approximately 2 man hours per 1000 square feet), and we too only had one section that had actual construction activity. It's just really hard to curtain off open concept. It was pretty amazing to see the backpack vacuums and caddies that every single one of the pros carried. They didn't have any wasted motion and everything got touched, including the inside of all cabinetry and the inside areas of displays that wouldn't be seen but were still contaminated. To get the same level of efficiency by a non-pro (even if you could get the same equipment to do it with) would probably require twice the man hours per square foot, or approximately 12 hours for a 3000 square foot home. More if there is still a lot of "stuff" in it to work around.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2013 at 7:48AM
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"It's just really hard to curtain off open concept."

Containing dust in a residential remodel is not hard. We do demolition and construction in computer server rooms, and open floor plan office spaces, as well as ordinary homes. Dust containment is the top priority of the site preparation activies. If you create negative pressure inside the containment, an open floor plan is no challenge. Negative pressure is easy to achieve with the use of a HEPA vac.

My whole crew has been trained for asbestos work. Industrial hygiene is not rocket science. It's very basic common sense. Dust will stay INSIDE the containment if you hook up a hepa vac hose to the inside of the space, and place the vacuum itself outside the containment. This creates negative pressure. Each time someone passes through the opening, fresh air is drawn inside and the dust gets pulled back in. If the workers will be entering and leaving the containment area frequently, it's prudent to set up a double entry. The intermediate space should be large enough for workers and materials to pass through, so the outer containment can be closed before the inner containment is opened.

In an occupied building, construction dust is not acceptable. I would lose my job if my crew did not contain their dust. When I go into a regular home to do some dusty work, the customer is totally impressed by how well we contain our dust. 2 hours of preparation results in 1 hour of clean up. Poor preparation results in a contaminated mess. Even a professional restoration cleaning crew is not going to get 100% of the dust.

Dust getting into the pores of a hardwood floor is a sign of inexperience. How long does it take to tape down red rosin paper and lay drops?

Or maybe my experience in restoration and maintenance has beaten the concept of dust control so far down into my skull, It's just an instinct at this point.

Hopefully you guys find this information helpful. I guarantee the HEPA vac method for creating negative pressure inside the containment really works!

    Bookmark   October 25, 2013 at 4:20PM
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Thank you all! Livewire, that's the type of company I want. II will add post-construction to my search terms

No, we do not have central vac. I have a little Dyson that I love but it wasn't doing the trick.

I asked and the painters don't have a HEPA vac system. I'll ask the floor guys. I think the bulk of the dusty contractor work is done. The cabinets are mostly installed and they put in some appliances today. The good news is that it's really looking like a brand new house! I can't wait until it's cleaned up and we can move in, even if the hood/backsplash is delayed.

Thank you!

    Bookmark   October 25, 2013 at 10:51PM
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CT, I am (soon, I hope) going to be in the same situation, so happy to read this. We live in a completely open plan loft. There will be plenty of dust. I'm happy to see here what to look for in a cleaning crew, because frankly, the chances of me getting on hands and knees with rags is not only slim-to-none, it's just none.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2013 at 12:34PM
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We just went through a remodel, and all I can say is thank goodness for my Rainbow! They did put the resin paper down on our wood floors, but yeah, there was dust everywhere. They were not very good about dust containment, saying it gets everywhere anyway. Rolling eyes here. Seriously?? They were very good about cleaning up, till the last crew got here to do the master bathroom. They have been horrid - just throwing the empty boxes and trash on the floor, and leaving everything very dusty.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2013 at 8:26PM
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thank goodness for my Rainbow!

What 's a Rainbow?

    Bookmark   October 26, 2013 at 8:49PM
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" I haven't even gotten to the blinds or the baseboard or walls. " .

You are just moving dust around instead of removing it.

Remove the blinds, take them outside and hose them off.
Take the draperies to a laundromat and run them through the dryer on fluff.
Don't put anything back until you have vacuumed the all surfaces.

Start with a really GOOD vacuum bag that will catch the fine particles ... and vacuum from the top down, starting with the ceiling and lights. Every time someone walks past the walls or baseboards the air movement dumps some dust into the air where it lands on the floors.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2013 at 10:56AM
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Rainbow is a brand of water-trap vacuum, IIRC. The water filters out the dust 100%.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2013 at 8:42PM
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Thank you! I've found a few to call for an estimate but it is a very cluttered category and hard to sift out who really is a post-construction specialist vs. regular cleaners/maid services or even carpet cleaners expanding their portfolios.

I'd have to get a professional cleaner to clean some of the crystal (or crystal-like) chandeliers. It might need other minor servicing Not sure if the main foyer one is higher than the frames of some of the entryways on the main floor or not. I originally, was going to do that after the professional cleaners because I didn't want the dust from the 2nd floor that overlooks the foyer to hit the chandelier and felt it was easier to reclean the floor than the chandelier.

I'm not sure if the cleaners can really get to the ceilings. I found one that specifically mentioned post-construction clean up with fairly good reviews, though one didn't like a cost over run because it took them more time than the estimate. I might call them (Maria's) for an estimate.

The person who wrote that review paid a whopping $1800. Not sure how large the house was. Any idea of cost for a 5 bdroom with a bonus room on the main floor in the Northeast? I guess they don't really need to clean the basement since we only painted and are changing out the carpet.

Should the professional cleaners also be cleaning the walls in addition to the baseboard and molding? Is that something that I need to specify? Also, some say sweep/mop/vacuum floors. I want them to do what it takes to achieve the outcome of no more dust when I wipe my finger on the floor. Unfortunately, the painters just put the blinds back on. :( But what you said makes a lot of sense - clean them separately. And I will probably have to replace some of them so I want to avoid wasted effort. I was thinking of having the Blinds2Go people in once we moved and had gotten a little more settled.

Thank you. Learning a lot from all of you.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2013 at 12:21AM
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Well, I don't think I'll be buying a $2K Rainbow but hopefully, the cleaners will have one. I am now dreading the master bath reno. Hopefully, the dust/debris can be more contained for that project and maybe we can get everything in and sitting on the main floor and then do the demo and install one after the other.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2013 at 12:44AM
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ItâÂÂs better to depend on any cleaning services as they know many easy techniques to remove it. My home is prone to very dust and I make use of a vacuum cleaner, but my effort all becomes useless. Then my friend told me about Sunrise Cleaning Service from Ontario where they provide with professional cleaning services and she asks me to call them. IâÂÂm very pleased with their service and I recommend everyone to call any cleaning services after having a good review. Why should we waste our energy????

    Bookmark   February 11, 2014 at 5:43AM
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Containment is a nice concept, but dust generally wins. I will find out again today as the sheet rocker is doing the final sanding this morning. I have a 16" fan in the window. The screen is removed. It has taken longer to put up the plastic sheeting than to do the work. I also have an ambient air filter box with a fan in it for woodworking dust. I have it sitting on saw horses on just collecting dust. As well, once we start I have a Fein shop vac with new bag and clean pleated filter. I'm going to walk along with him and pull what I can off the sanding pad. I'm going to drive this guy crazy. He should be done in a couple hours and then I vacuum, remove the plastic and hope I can shower before our house guests arrive this morning. Oh, then I will get them to help me clean. We always wonder why so few people stop by?

    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 10:43AM
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Contractors who sand joint compound might be interested in the Festool PLANEX and Dust Extractor.

Here is a link that might be useful: Aaron Bergantz - Drywall Prep and Sanding Without Dust

    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 12:19PM
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