bathroom renovation dust control measures

So in our bathroom renovation dust control is going to be an issue by the very nature of the work.

The next job was taking off the old bathroom tiles. I would be chipping the walls and floor to remove ceramic tile and quite possibly I will have to use a grinder to prepare the surface for waterproofing and tiling.

This sort of work is dusty or messy at the best of times, but in an old house that is still being lived in I obviously had to think about minimising or stopping the mess from spreading to the other areas.

We had a corridor to the bathroom so I simply kept the bedroom doors and the door to the living area closed all the time I was making dust and I kept bathroom door closed as much as possible. As far as keeping the dust to a minimum I had a couple of options:-

  1. The Dry Method. This means sealing the area and working inside with normal electric power tools that create dust.
    • This is hard on the worker and also hard on the power tools.
    • There are some grinders etc. that are specially protected against dust but they are extremely expensive. Most guys use standard trade quality tools and get new bearings or throw the tool out out when they are knackered.
    • A mate of mine (a tradesman tiler) has a beautiful grinder with a superb extraction system on it that cost $5,000. I wasn't going to buy one of them for a "one off" job, and neither would I strain the friendship by asking to borrow it. BUT it may be a good idea to check your local hire company.
    • As far as being hard on the worker goes I just had to put up with it, having a rest outside from time to time to let the dust settle.
    • The work itself is hard and the PPE (personal protective equipment) that you have to wear makes it harder.
    • I like to use disposable P2 face masks for this sort of work. They are the ones that I have used for asbestos removal work in the past. You can get cheaper masks but my preference is for the P2 because they fit well and are comfortable to wear. They cost about $20 for a pack of 12 and I used only one or two a day.
    • As well as the respirator, a visor or safety glasses, gloves, boots and some form of hat completes the PPE kit.
    • Shadow Vacuuming.This is a technique that I have used to good effect many times on jobs where I have had an offsider.
    • It consists of a large shop vacuum cleaner either attached to the tool itself, or the inlet nozzle of the vacuum is held by a second person very close to the tool that is creating the dust. This does save an awful lot of dust. I was'nt about to get the misses involved or hire another guy, so I managed without doing it on this occasion.
    • Another option, which I did use was to remove the glass louvres in window and fix a 450mm dia floor fan directly to the outside as an extractor fan. This shifted to dust in the air into the back garden.
    • With this little trick I found that it was possible to work in the bathroom without a dust mask in less than ten minutes after finishing grinding. This also gives a positive inward flowing air stream under and around the bathroom door furthe stopping the dust getting into the rest of the house.
    • Hire companies have extractor fans for just this purpose, complete with suction hose and outlet hoses, usually about 450mm dia.
    • Of course you may catch a bit of flack from the neighbours:-) The really bad dust from grinding does not last all that long, and at a pinch someone could spray it from upwind with a garden hose.
  2. The Wet Method As the name implies it means working while using water to keep the dust down.
    • This requires the use of air tools or electrically insulated tools. Both of which are expensive to buy but can be hired often.
    • I have done enough wet grinding jobs to know that WET is the only way to go for a certain size of job, but on a small job like we are talking about it was not a consideration.
    • The wet method creates large amounts of slurry which is a pain to clean up, and I definitely didn't want any of it going into my floor waste which would have meant lots of mopping up.

So I opted to use the dry method. I spread black poly sheeting 200um or 8mil thick for drop sheets over my walk in and out paths while wheeling out the debris.

Note! I used the sheeting throughout most of the job, for walking through the house to the door closest to where I mixed my topping materials and tile adhesives. It was wrapped up every evening.

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