Roger Bisby revisits the ZipWall portable dust barrier system
I first looked at this product several years ago and concluded that it is more useful for maintenance engineers and people working in the commercial environment than it is for heavy site use. On a bigger rougher site I think it is a bit too lightweight and erecting your own timber stud wall and stapling 1000 gauge polythene to it is still going to be the favoured method of forming a dust barrier if, for example, you are knocking down a chimney breast. Having said that, the problem with the stud wall is that it doesn’t provide a zip door for entry and exit to the work area so you might still want to purchase the self adhesive zip system even if you don’t use the poles.
If however you are working on domestic or light commercial jobs and are on the move a professional lightweight portable dust barrier with telescopic poles that packs away into a holdall fits the bill precisely. The kit comprises poles and tee bars for sealing the polythene against the ceiling and some wall sealing strips. The clever bit is the zip strip. It is self adhesive and can be stuck in any position you choose on the polythene wall. Once it is stuck you use the moving edge knife to cut the polythene in the middle of the zip as you undo the zip. Most of the time one zip is enough. I went a bit nuts on my test and put two in to make a flap which would never really be needed. You may get away with using the polythene a few times if you are careful but the chances are that it will be damaged during the course of taking down and storage so in practical terms you are better off allowing for fresh polythene and a new zip on each job.
The thing that has changed dramatically since my last look at this product is the legislation on dust.
Practices that were acceptable ten years ago have now been outlawed and you will be expected to provide effective dust screens if you are decorating occupied offices for example. The polythene screens will also cordon off your work area to prevent people straying inside and, dare I say, stealing your tools. Zipwall also makes you look more professional which should never underestimate the value of looking the part.