The Benefits of Dust Free Sanding

By Mike Cupit


I’ve been a decorator for the best part of two decades. In that time, I’ve seen the industry change massively. Spray painting, mural wallpaper and dust free sanding are reshaping a decorator’s working life. The modern decorator needs to adapt, but what are the benefits of dust free sanding? I thought I’d put pen to paper and explain a little bit, based on my own experience.


As mentioned, I’m a decorator, so I’m going to talk though all this from a decorator’s perspective. High-end dust free sanders are awfully expensive, so I guess it’s only us tradesmen who are going to front the initial cost anyway.


The Benefits of Dust Free Sanding


When decorating the average room, I like to go in, fill everywhere that needs filling, then sand down the whole of the ceiling, wall space and woodwork in one go. I get all the preparation out of the way in one hit before I even think about going near the paint.


As you can imagine, this creates a lot of dust!! Without my sanders and extractor, that dust would go everywhere. It would take days to settle all around a client’s house, completely trash the room I’m working in and cover my painting equipment. My dustsheets would be covered, meaning I would be carrying that same dust onto the next job.


The other thing that dust would do is damage my body. Even with a mask, plumes of dust would get through and fill my lungs. The dust is fine, corrosive and can contain some nasty elements such as lime, or even asbestos! What’s more, the dust can stick to saliva inside your body and form a paste, which coats your mouth, trachea and the inside of your lungs!!


Dust free sanding eliminates all these problems. In my opinion, there is no excuse for a decorator to be without a basic dust free sanding kit. It saves lives and client’s houses, so why wouldn’t you? I may get some stick for saying this, but they should bring legislation in to make it illegal for substantial sanding work to be carried out by a professional without the use of a dust free sanding unit.


Which Dust Free Sanders do I use?


I’m a Festool man!! I have absolute faith in the build quality of Festool, so when I buy anything from them I know it’s going to last longer than its 3-year warranty.

 I use a Festool RTS 400 REQ for all my woodwork, small areas of wall space and other bits of trim.


Then I’ve got the Festool ETS 150/5 which I use on all the big areas such as walls and ceilings. I used to use a Mirka Deros which was awesome, however I had a few problems with it before it finally broke.  I wouldn’t buy another one.


The extractor I use is the Festool Midi which I’ve had for over 10 years without issue!! There are probably more up-to-date models available now. This is the perfect representation of Festool’s build quality.


All this probably cost me close to £2,000!! However, it lasts for years and saves my lungs.


Budget Dust Free Sanders


You do not need a silly amount of money to reap the benefits of dust free sanding. Most electric sanders can be converted to dust free, simply by attaching an extractor. You don’t even need an extractor; a Henry Hoover will see you right if you buy an adapter off Ebay to go with it. Although Vacuum cleaners do the job and a Henry will cope better than most, you should only expect a few months of regular use before the motor gives out.

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