All garages have one thing in common:
It doesn’t matter how you use your garage. Whether it’s for storing tools, detailing your car, woodworking, or storing your extra stuff, nobody likes a dusty garage.
No matter how much I clean it or how little I store in it, my garage is so dusty, it feels like it creates dust out of thin air.
I found some things that help limit the dust and want to share them here.
The main reason you have a dusty garage is your concrete floor. Concrete is a porous material that lets water seep in, but that water eventually breaks down the concrete, forming concrete dust. Your garage also attracts dust from flakes of dead skin, pet fur, and bits of leaves or other debris breaking down.
No matter how often you sweep your concrete garage floor, the dust never disappears.
After researching and asking around, I discovered some easy, inexpensive ways to keep your garage dust-free.
Why You Have a Dusty Garage
I won’t bury the lead here.
The number reason your garage is so dusty is your concrete floor.
Let me explain why.
Concrete comprises three major components: a cement powder, sand or another aggregate (filler), and water.
Those three components live in (hopefully) a perfect balance.
If you don’t have the right mix, your concrete mix is weaker than it should be and breaks down quicker.
According to the National Ready Mix Concrete Associate (NRMCA), a concrete floor will dust when the surface is so weak that it can be scratched by a fingernail or even swept with a broom.
When concrete breaks down, it will start forming a layer of dust across the floor.
Over time, this can lead to a weaker floor that’s more prone to cracking and other damage. Plus, it can make your dusty garage floor look old and worn out before its time.
And let’s not forget about the mess it can create, especially if you’re using your garage for any kind of woodworking or other projects.
What Causes Concrete Dusting?
One of the biggest reasons for concrete dusting is poor finishing.
That’s when the concrete isn’t smoothed out properly after it’s poured.
Think of it like frosting a cake. If you don’t smooth out the frosting, you’ll end up with a lumpy, uneven surface.
It’s the same with concrete.
Another cause is a low-quality mix. If you don’t have the right proportions of cement, sand, and aggregate, or if low-quality materials are used, it can lead to weaker concrete that’s more prone to dusting.
Excess water can also lead to dusting. Just like making a cake, adding too much water to your concrete mix can ruin the final product.
Too much water can weaken the concrete and make it more likely to dust.
It’s even worse when harsh chemicals are involved.
This is more of a problem for industrial or commercial garages. Still, it’s something to remember if you’re using strong cleaning or maintenance products in your garage.
Similarly, motor oil leaks or chemical spills gradually start to break the surface of the concrete down. This causes small pits and cracks in the concrete as different areas degrade faster than others.
Finally, physical contact wears everything down eventually.
Every time you walk or drive across your garage floor, you wear off a small layer of the surface, kicking up dust. The more use the floor’s surface gets, the more dust will accumulate.
In a nutshell, concrete dusting is a sign that your garage floor might not be in the best shape.
But by knowing what causes it, you can take steps to prevent it and keep your garage floor looking its best.
How to Keep Dust Out of Your Garage
Now that we understand concrete dusting, let’s talk about controlling the dust that comes off your garage floor.
To reduce dust in your garage, you want to free up as much space as possible.
Let me explain.
Garages are filled with items we don’t use that often. From seasonal decorations to old tools and camping gear, these things sit untouched for long periods, becoming prime real estate for dust to settle on.
Think about it – the more items you have, the more surfaces there are for dust to accumulate.
When you declutter your garage, you’re reducing these dust-catching surfaces. Fewer items mean fewer places for dust to settle, resulting in less dust overall.
For ideas on how to declutter a garage quickly and painlessly, check out my article, where I detail the steps I take.
Dust from the Top Down
Once you’ve done that, start by dusting high shelves, cabinets, tables, and benches.
This will knock the excess dust from the higher levels to the floor at the bottom. After dusting, wash the highest areas with soap, water, and a microfiber cloth.
You could use air to blow all the dust off these high areas, but I don’t recommend it.
The dusty air will need a lot of time to settle on the ground before you can clean it. In the meantime, it’ll spread throughout the rest of the garage, making your job harder.
You’ll also be breathing all that dust in while you wait.
This is also an excellent time to clean the driveway or path leading into your garage. That way, you won’t bring more dust and debris from the outside.
I make it a point to use a leaf blower on my driveway every few days. It only takes a minute or two, but it helps limit the debris and dust that gets in my garage.
Again, I do NOT recommend using a leaf blower inside your dusty garage.
Cleaning the Concrete
The next step is giving your concrete a good, thorough cleaning. This is important because any loose dust, dirt, oil, or grease can prevent treatments from adhering properly to your concrete.
Start by sweeping up any loose debris with a broom.
But, for a more thorough clean, consider using a vacuum, especially one designed for wet and dry conditions. These vacuums can pick up fine dust particles that a broom might miss.
If your dusty garage floor is really dirty or stained, you may need to bring in the big guns: a pressure washer.
Pressure washing your garage floor can help remove stubborn dirt, oil, and grease stains that a broom or vacuum can’t handle.
One key point is letting your concrete dry completely after cleaning.
If the concrete is still damp, the sealer, hardener, or coating won’t be able to penetrate the surface properly. This could lead to an uneven finish, poor adhesion, and, yes, more dusting.
So, after cleaning your dusty garage floor, give it some time to dry thoroughly. Depending on the weather and humidity, this might take a few hours or even a few days.
Trust me, it’s worth the wait.
Properly prepping your concrete will go a long way to helping you to maintain a clean, dust-free garage.
Sealing the Concrete
Now you’re ready for the next step – sealing the concrete. A top-notch sealant can be a game-changer, reducing moisture absorption and preventing that pesky dusting.
Here’s how you can do it right:
First, let’s talk sealers.
There are three main types that give the best results: silane, siloxane, and silicate-based sealers. Each has its own strengths, but all three penetrate the concrete to create a barrier against moisture and dust.
The trick is to choose the right sealer for your specific concrete type and condition.
Don’t be shy about asking for help at your local home improvement store or doing some online research to find the best fit.
Now, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of applying the sealer. There are a few methods you can use: spraying, rolling, or brushing. The key is to apply it evenly over the entire concrete surface.
Don’t rush this part. A little patience will pay off with a properly sealed floor.
There are some really great benefits to sealing your concrete garage floor.
For one, it can make your garage floor more durable and resistant to stains and chemicals, which is great if you’re using it as a workshop.
But there are a few downsides to consider as well.
While a sealer improves moisture resistance, it can also reduce the breathability of the concrete. This means that any moisture trapped underneath might lead to discoloration or peeling over time.
However, these risks can be minimized with the right prep work and proper application.
Coating the Concrete
Adding a coating to your garage floor can add another layer of protection against concrete dusting while giving your garage floor a sleek finish. Let’s dive into how to get this done.
There are dozens of different concrete coatings, including epoxy, polyurethane, acrylic, and latex-based products.
.Each has its strengths, and the choice really comes down to your concrete type, condition, and what you’re using your garage for.
An epoxy coating, for example, is great for high-traffic areas due to its durability. In contrast, a latex-based coating is usually easier to apply.
I wrote a detailed article discussing whether you should epoxy your garage floor.
Alternatively, if a full epoxy coating isn’t an option, a cheaper option is to paint it.
Several manufacturers make paint specifically designed for your garage floor in a variety of colors. It’s not as strong as an epoxy coating, but it will help reduce dust.
Once you’ve chosen your coating, it’s time to apply.
Start by priming your concrete surface. This will ensure that the coating adheres properly to the floor.
Next, you’ll need to mix your coating according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Be sure to follow these carefully to get the best results.
With your mixture ready, it’s time to spread it onto your concrete.
Work in manageable sections and aim for even coverage.
Once you’re done, you’ll need to let your coating cure.
The curing time can vary based on the coating type and the manufacturer’s recommendations, so plan accordingly.
The benefits of coating your concrete slab are pretty impressive.
Besides reducing concrete dusting, a good floor coating will make your garage floor stand out and more resistant to stains and chemicals.
Floor coatings are a great option for anyone serious about transforming their garage.
But it’s important to remember that there are some drawbacks too. Coatings can be pricier than sealants, and they require more maintenance. There’s also a risk of cracking or peeling, especially if the application process isn’t done correctly.
Other Ways to Prevent Dust in Your Garage
Once your floor is sealed or coated, here are some other tips that may help reduce the dust in your garage.
- Replace the door seals: The second leading contributor to a dusty garage is your door’s seals. Worn-out garage door seals allow dust to get inside, even with the garage doors closed. Replacing the damaged or missing seals around your garage door will help tremendously.
- Change your AC Filter: If your garage has an AC or an HVAC system, your old filter might not trap dust properly. You need to regularly clean your system’s filter and replace it if it is really old. A dirty filter will stop filtering the hot or cold air entering your garage.
- Buy an air filtration system: Adding an air filtration system to your garage also helps. It will catch fine dust inside your garage, cleaning it and eliminating dust.
- Vacuum instead of sweeping: Use a small shop-vac instead of sweeping your dusty garage floor. Sweeping causes dust to spread, while vacuuming sucks up the dust and contains it.
Wrapping It Up: Why Your Garage Is So Dusty (And How to Fix It)
Dust in your garage is a pain. You’ll never completely eliminate it, but you can take steps to minimize it.
With a newly sealed garage floor and new seals on all the windows and doors, you’ll notice a definite improvement in how much dust you have in your garage.
You may have a dusty garage now, but it doesn’t have to stay that way.