Photo: Nedjelko Matura
The mess that comes with drilling, sawing, sanding, and demolishing can be formidable — consisting of debris that's at once too rough, too large, and too fine for the average household vacuum cleaner. The answer is stored in millions of garages and basement workshops: wet/dry vacuums. The fat hose, strong motor, and big tank of a good vac suck up everything from chunks of plaster and nails to microscopic drywall dust and pools of water. Some even have detachable motors that can be used as leaf blowers.

Wet/dry vacs range in size and power from hand-carried 1-gallon models to heavy 20-gallon monsters. A small portable or rolling vacuum is fine for the occasional minor job (and makes a great car vacuum as well), but anyone getting into a large renovation project should consider investing in (or renting) a bigger machine.

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