GBA Logo horizontal Facebook LinkedIn Email Pinterest Twitter Instagram YouTube Icon Navigation Search Icon Main Search Icon Video Play Icon Plus Icon Minus Icon Picture icon Hamburger Icon Close Icon Sorted

Community and Q&A

Strategies for Controlling Drywall Dust

aunsafe2015 | Posted in General Questions on

I’m in the process of finishing a 3rd story walk-up attic, and am having the drywall installed in the next week or two.  A ducted heat-pump air handler resides in this attic, along with all the ductwork.  I’m planning to cover it with a plastic sheet and seal up the attic supply and return vent, which are already connected to duct but the duct is not yet connected to the air handler plenums (the air handler will serve both the second and third floors of the house).

I’m also planning to tape an HVAC filter to a box fan, set the box fan in an open window, and also open another window at the other end of the attic, and have the fan exhausting air the entire time drywall is being cut/sanded.  I would think this will at least keep most of the dust on the side of the attic that the fan is running.  But if I do this, will I get a fine coating of visible white drywall dust on the portion of my porch roof that is below the window that will be exhausting attic air?  Bad idea?

Any thoughts or advice would be appreciated.  I know this is going to be a dusty/dirty part of the project but I want to take reasonable steps to minimize the pain!

GBA Prime

Join the leading community of building science experts

Become a GBA Prime member and get instant access to the latest developments in green building, research, and reports from the field.


  1. Expert Member


    In the absence of air-movement, drywall dust falls straight down to the floor, leaving very little suspended in the air. If it were me I'd keep the area closed up, and vacuum once the sanding was finished.

    Probably not much help in your situation, but Festool makes a completely dust-free drywall sander many renovators use for working in finished spaces. It is pricey though.

  2. Expert Member
    NICK KEENAN | | #2

    Talk to your drywall contractor, this is part of every drywall job.

    You're better off keeping it out of where you don't want it than trying to clean it up after. If you have to clean it up get another hose for your shop vac and put the exhaust out the window. I've never had a problem sending the dust outside. The box fan is a good idea but I wouldn't even use a filter on it. Getting the last bits of dust up can be a chore, using a wet cloth with detergent in the water helps to trap the dust.

  3. Expert Member
    BILL WICHERS | | #3

    Absolutely mask off any vents or ductwork. Poly sheet (or even paper) and some painters tape is usually fine for this purpose. An exhaust fan won’t hurt, but don’t bother with a filter — drywall dust can get through most common HVAC filters. Rain will probably clean any small amount of dust that gets outside as a result of the fan.

    “Dust control” mud does help, but there is a tradeoff: the finished mud is MUCH easier to dent and scratch compared to regular mud. I switched back to the regular stuff for this reason and use almost exclusively hot mud now.

    +1 for keeping the area sealed up as Malcolm suggested. You’ll probably still get some drywall dust outside of that area (it always seems to go where you don’t want it to), but you’ll keep most of it under control. Use a bag filter in your shop vac when you vacuum it up too since regular filters plug up quick.

    Festool makes many excellent products, but you pay for them. A LOT.


  4. gusfhb | | #4

    skim coat plaster?

  5. GBA Editor
    Kiley Jacques | | #5

    Hi Aun,

    Here is an article from Fine Homebuilding with tips for dust control that might be helpful for your project.

Log in or create an account to post an answer.


Recent Questions and Replies

  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |