Keeping Dust Out Of Office

Strategies for isolating the office air from the shop air to control dust. April 19, 2015

I have an office and a showroom area in the front of my shop. My shop is an 8,400 sq. ft. metal building. The office and showroom area is about 1,400 sq. ft. There is a single door that goes into the shop area from the front. I'm wondering if any of you guys have any ideas for keeping the majority of the shop dust out of the front area. I try to keep the shop door closed as much as possible, but a good bit of dust still seems to make its way into the front. Please let me know if anybody has an idea that is currently working.

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor X:
I think I would consider building another room between the office and workshop, that will take in that dust. Keeping dust out between a single door is a losing battle. You could use that room for something useful like hardware storage, a small breakroom, etc. Also, weatherstrips around the doors help. Maybe even relocate some of the dustiest operations (sanding, sawing, etc.) farther away from the office/showroom.

From Contributor F:
Have you given thought to, and will the architecture support a static pressure imbalance?

From the original questioner:
Thanks. I had wondered about possibly building a small room between the office area and the shop area to help control the dust. I think weather stripping would be a good idea too.

Contributor F, when you say static pressure imbalance, do you mean putting a slight positive pressure on the office and showroom? If so, how would I do that? Thanks again for the responses.

From Contributor O:
The best solution I have seen involved a 40' corridor that ran along between the shop and the office. The corridor had a door at one end to the office, and the other door at the other end was to the shop. Anyone that wanted to travel the distance would 'walk off' the ambient dust in the process. Walk-off rugs lined the floor - easy to clean and would hold the dust. The solution also involved laminated glass panels on either side of the corridor so the office could see into the shop and vice versa. The added benefit was that the distance made travel between the two areas less convenient, and this also cut down on dust intrusion and unnecessary interference.

From Contributor F:
Talk to an HVAC contractor might be a way to determine the imbalance possibility. It will be site specific but if you can kick up the pressure in the office or knock it down in the shop it should work. The long corridor is also a good and similar approach, space permitting. Both are passive and probably economical.

From the original questioner:
I like the corridor idea. I just don't think I've got the space to put one but I wish that I could. I will look into the idea of getting a slight positive pressure in the front area of the shop. We did that when we built the paint room. The room has a slight positive pressure on it so that it doesn't suck in the dirty shop air. I hadn't thought about doing it in the front area.

From contributor X:
Another thing you can do is caulk around the floor, ceiling, and anywhere else that could let dust in. A good way to check is to turn the lights out on one side, and you will see daylight shining through, that will show you where it needs sealed up. I did that along with weatherstripping around the shop doors to keep the solvent smell from the spray room from getting into the shop area. It made a noticeable difference.

From contributor C:
I've got exterior doors with thresholds and weather stripping between the shop and office/showroom. It helps, but I still get a lot of stuff tracked in.

From contributor A:
It's the nature of the beast. Usually the door to the office does not lead directly on to the shop floor. That helps with airborne dust. I believe most of the dust is carried in on people’s clothes and shoes. You could ask them to use the air hose to blow themselves off before coming in the office or install a Biosafety Level 1 containment system in the hallway.

From contributor Y:
This is probably too obvious to ask - but is there any common ductwork (designed or accidental) in the HVAC system(s) that serve the office and workshop areas? I once had a 5,000 SF commercial shop that was constructed (not by me) with a single HVAC system and I had to install an extra bank of filters in a duct run leading to the office and showroom area. Back-to-back restroom areas (office/shop) are areas where ducts sometimes bridge the zones you want to keep separate.

From contributor G:
Perhaps the subject should be keeping dust in the workshop? If more dust can be captured at the moment it is being created, then workshop and office will both benefit. In Britain surveys show extraction systems, regardless of size are often compromised by warn, damaged or poorly designed hoods. Improving hoods is low-tech, relatively cheap and often very effective.