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Question DetailsAsked on 7/18/2013

Do contractors typically clean up (remove all dust) after installing drywall or skim coating walls?

We recently hired a professional to tape and skim coat the basement walls. On the contract it said that the walls would be ready to paint. The contractor used our Dyson (now barely working) to clean up large chunks but I still needed to spend over 6 hours removing sheet rock gunk and additional dust from the floors. It will take me another long amount of time to actually prep the walls for painting as they are also filled with dust.

Is this standard or can we ask him to finish cleaning up? He has otherwise done a great job.

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2 Answers

Voted Best Answer

Drywall dust is so fine that you can expect to have risidual dust settling throughout the house for the next week or two. However, he should not have used your household vacuum to clean up a mess like that and should have removed any huge chunks of drywall mud from the floor. Most drywall contractors do not clean the floor when they are finished so you can expect there to be some cleanup if you didn't cover the floor beforehand. It sounds like you are acting as your own contractor, whom would have had the responsibility of covering the floor and cleaning in preparation for flooring if not contracted otherwise with the drywall crew. Since the contract said the walls would be ready to paint you may have an arguement with him to have the walls wiped down but the floor may be a losing battle if he did not state he would clean them after the work was done.

By the way, don't forget to change your hvac filters every 3-5 days for the next 2 weeks and don't use the cheapos. Get something that will filter fine particles.

Todd Shell

Todd's Home Services

San Antonio, TX

Answered 6 years ago by Todd's Home Services


Dust and especially drywall dust is a big problem in all construction. This is especially true in an occupied home. Homeowners should be aware that dust will affect them almost without exception. Temporary plastic barrier walls and roll paper taped to the floor will greatly control the mess.

It is commendable that the craftsman cleaned up after himself but using the customers vacuum is a no-no. The previous answer is correct; especially about the dust taking a while to finally disappear.

Homeowners would do well to be aware of this problem and insure the construction workers are doing all that is reasonable to keep dust under controll. There is alway a final cleaning required on any construction project. Specify beforehand who is responsible for the final cleaning, the contractor or the owner.

Answered 6 years ago by carpentermike


General construction dust that migrates out of the immediate work area is usually covered by the final cleanup by the general contractor - apparently you, in this case.

However, not vacuuming and damp-wiping the walls to prepare them for paint, and not putting down paper or visqueen or canvas tarp to catch the mud which he dropped is just plain sloppy, and in a court would not be considered good workmanship, where the gerneal standard is for a contractor to leave his work area broom-clean unless he is doing only yard or earth or concrete work, in which case rolled, raked or leaf blown or hosed or shovel-clean, as is most applicable.

Sad to say, many contractors these days have no pride in their work, and make no effort to leave the area as clean as they found it before they started work. It used to be that you did not have to put things in the contract that would be considered normal good workmanship - now it seems like about half the contractors out there never learned basic manners or attention to detail - a real pity, because it damages the reputation of those who continue to do a good job. That is why the quality and reputation of the contractor should be the primary selection criteria, because a quick completion or cheapest cost does no good if you have to incur additional cost to clean up after him or to redo sloppy work.

Examples I have seen include tile contractors not doing final grouting and grout haze cleanup, painters leaving drips and runs on trim and floors, finish carpenters leaving cutoff and sawdust tracked all over, plumbers leaving solder drips all over flooring and walls, garage flat roof repairmen tracking asphalt over marble flooring, drywall tapers leaving mud clumps and plaster tracks all over carpeting and hardwood floor, painters mixing and thinning oil paints and cleaning spray guns directly on top of hardwood flooring, stucco appliers and painters spraying the outsides of buildings without masking windows (or even closing them, in one case - care for a stucco interior finish on your walls and floor ?), etc. This is one main reason why having a general contractor running all the trades is important - it is difficult for a homeowner to stay on top of all the trades, and because you are considered a one-time client you do not have the pull a general contractor they routinely do work for has with them to do it right and clean up afterwards.

My personal philosophy after about 50 years of bidding or contracting is that about 1/4 of vendors or contractors are either hopelessly drunk or drugged out or are sloths or outright crooks, 1/4 do the bare minimum and are not above gouging the unknowing client, 1/4 do generally workmanlike work but need a close eye on them and will have a substantial punchlist of deficiencies at what they think is the end of the job, and 1/4 do a true workmanlike job and can be trusted to do right by you without significant oversight. That 1/4 is hopefully what you narrow your bidders list down to by getting word of mouth recommendations, Angie's List reviews, BBB complaint reviews (ignore the rankings - they are a joke), etc. It used to be, in small communities, a bad word of mouth reputation eventually ran the bad contractors out of business or out of town - these days, few people talk to their neighbors, so they have no idea how good or bad a contractor or vendor is.

Answered 6 years ago by LCD

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