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It’s Fixer-Upper: Home Rehab with Asthma

I bought my home knowing that it was a little rough around the edges. I put in a good amount of sweat equity to get it up to a presentable and livable state. I did the majority of the work myself with some help from family and friends. I certainly had my work cut out for me, but it wasn’t a project that took everything down to the studs either. I painted, spackled, ripped out carpet, tiled, and installed floating floor over the course of 6 months or so. Certainly, if you have the money and lack the desire to put in the sweat equity, call someone and hire it out. I’ve always been a bit of a tinkerer and enjoyed working with my hands. I didn’t really talk with my asthma care team ahead of time about my renovation plans.

Home Renovation Process

The previous occupant of my condo didn’t bother to fill in any of the holes from things they hung so one of the first orders of business for me was to get out a putty knife and some spackling compound. I didn’t take any special precautions for this bit of . For all my projects I tried to buy the less toxic versions of supplies where available, so low-VOC was the order of the day.

With the walls prepped I moved on to the next order of business, painting. I tried to pick low mold count days to do it, so that I wouldn’t have to pick between breathing paint fumes and mold spores. Let’s just say chocolate brown isn’t in my color palette, there was a lot of primer before I could paint the walls the final color. I opened all the windows and had a fan going to keep the fumes to a minimum.

Even before I got into the process of ripping out the carpet in the bedrooms I knew it wasn’t something that would work for me. Once I got the carpet ripped back I realized that it was most likely full of pet dander. I wore a half face respirator for this work in addition to anything else where I expected to raise dust. It was a fairly quick job to take care of since I wasn’t working around furniture and planned to throw away the carpet and pad. I replaced this with click-lock floating cork flooring, though we did nickname it home improvement “yoga”. The click lock flooring itself was pretty easy to install. Cutting pieces to size with a saw did of course raise dust.

Tiling my backsplash itself didn’t raise much dust. The only thing that I was careful about was wearing a mask when I mixed the adhesive and grout outside the house. While it was a bit messy it didn’t really cause me any problems.

In general my experience with home improvement was positive and didn’t include any significant asthma issues. My process is usually to wear a dust mask, shower afterwards, and put on clean clothes. I also use good filters on my HVAC system. However, I think I’ve gotten all the home improvement out of my system and will probably save myself the trigger exposure next time and hire out the work. Are you a do-it-yourself home improvement person as well?

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Asthma.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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