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In My Experience with HEPA-Rated Dust Extraction

17 June, 2019

Have a question? Curious how other contractors solve application problems? APC can help. In each issue we’ll aim to answer a handful of your technical questions by reaching out directly to the product experts. Let’s all learn together how to improve the quality of our painting and manage the ever-evolving range of products coming into the marketplace. Send your questions to, subject: In My Experience.

Making the Leap to HEPA-Rated Dust Extraction

HEPA-rated dust extraction systems have become the standard for painters in the past decade because they allow painters to work with vacuums that filter their own exhaust dust to the highest possible standard. These systems have also become closely connected with the ability to do (nearly) dustless sanding by attaching power sanders to HEPA extractors and capturing dust at the surface where it is created. Of course, end of the day cleanup gains some benefit from the system as well.

It is an interesting topic, so we asked a paint contractor what the advantages are to investing in HEPA and dustless sanding capabilities.

Never going back

This is a topic about which Zach Kenney of ZK Painting in Coventry, R.I., feels strongly:

“We use HEPA vacs for a number of reasons, but mostly because it allows us to vacuum up dust and debris without worrying about spreading a thin layer of dust around a customer’s home in the process. I don’t trust ordinary shop vacs to do that anymore.

Dust control is huge for us for our finished results, because we produce highquality finishes and don’t want any risk of contamination—especially when it can be prevented. We always strive to keep the clients house cleaner than we found it. That is one of the most important concerns that customers have. They don’t want the house to be dirty during the project. They are definitely concerned with dust and appreciate that we work hard to minimize it.

I use these company standards to establish professionalism in the sales process as well. We’ve seen an unbelievable ROI on our investment in working more cleanly than competitors. The ROI from efficiency and time savings alone is huge, but add to that the ability to sell jobs at higher prices.

Employees also have bought into using this gear 100% because it makes their lives easier. My apprentices have never known another way. If my employees see other contractors with normal shop vacs they don’t understand why they are using them.

I can’t imagine not having HEPA gear and the ability to control dust so well. It’s been over five years since we invested, and I would never go back.”

Challenges to the switch

It would be difficult to find professional painters who don’t recognize HEPA and dustless sanding as the cleanest way to work. However, there are plenty of painters who aren’t using this type of equipment. For one reason, there are some challenges to implementing this type of a shift in your company.

First, the cost of entry keeps some pros from being able to invest in it right away. A regular shop vac costs as little as $60. It is easy to spend $5oo to $600 on a HEPA vac. In addition, the bags and filters are pricier than ordinary parts for traditional shop vacs. This makes it important to develop a relationship with a good supplier, either locally or online, in order to stay stocked in all of the related consumables (bags, filters, abrasives).

And of course, shifting to higher end technology comes with the need (and opportunity) to learn new equipment and a new way of doing things.

Whatever methods you are currently using, be as safe and profitable as you can.

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