When working with paints, you expose yourself to many chemicals. Many of which give a shining, beautiful, and long-lasting cover paint . Most people think it is fine wearing long sleeves t-shirts and trousers, but the invisible gas is just as dangerous.
So which painter’s mask should you wear? What are the best brands? And how to use one the right way? Here is a helpful guide for you.
Top 5 Best Safety Painters Mask
In-depth Reviews of Best Painters Mask for DIY Painting Projects
Here are our top 5 recommended painters masks. The review will focus on the respirators’ design and be brief about their complements like compatible filters and cartridges for reference.
1. The medium 3M 6000 Series
The 3M 7500 Series – Half-facepiece Reusable Respirators are made of thermoplastic elastomer (TPE), which provides better grip. They come in various sizes: small 6100, medium 6200, and large 6300; the medium measure: 8 x 6 x 4 inches and 4.04 ounces.Besides the 3M 6000 Series Cartridge (Black, Olive, Yellow, White, and Green color code), this respiratory can go with other lines of 3M filters like 2000, 2200, 5000, and 7000 Series (up to P100). Even the 3M Dual Airline can be used to supply fresh air.
Another safety specification that you should look at is the APF. The 3M 6000 series is certified with APF 10 by OSHA, which is common for most half-face respirators.
- It is light and comfortable to wear when you work for long period projects
- You can use it in many kinds of works including painting, cleaning, sanding, sawing, etc.
- The cartridges have swept back design, which allows more balance and better visibility when working
- It can be used with filters, cartridges to purify air, or connected with a valve to supply fresh air, comes with front-mounted and back-mounted breathing tubes
- It is best for both outdoor and indoor painting
- It would cost you a little more than 3M 6000 series
2. 3M 7500 Series – Half-facepiece Reusable Respirator
The 3M 7500 series respirators are made of silicone, which boasts of improving the comfort experience.
They also come in various sizes: small 7501, medium 7502, and large 7503. The dimensions of the medium are as follows. 8.8 x 12 x 3.8 inches, 6.7 ounces.
This series is compatible with various 3M respiratory protective products like 6000 Series Cartridge; 2000, 2200, 5000, and 7000 Series (up to P100) Filters; and Dual Airline Systems. With an APF 10 class, the respirator guarantees to protect you at concentrations 10 times more than the permitted exposure level. And the feature of 3M Cool Flow makes it less fogging, easier breathing and cleaning.
- Silicone material makes the respirator more durable and allows the respirator to give a gentler feel on the face
- Smart design makes breathing easier with heat and moisture directed downwards and not captured inside the mask
- Besides painting, it can be used for other purposes including working with chemical, welding, etc.
- It comes with an adjustable head harness so that the respirator can be easily taken off without removing helmet or any protective headwear
- It is best for both indoor and outdoor painting
- It would cost you a little more than 3M 6000 series
- COMFORT AND DURABLE: Advance silicone material for increased comfort and greater durability
- BREATHE EASY: Proprietary 3M CoolFlow valve helps makes breathing easier
- EASY ON AND OFF: Dual-mode head harness adjusts easily to a quick latch design offering an easy, one-hand touch drop-down mechanism for putting the facepiece on and off
- REDUCE FOGGING: Exhalation valve cover directs exhaled breath and moisture downward to reduce fogging
- Bayonet style cartridges and filters (not included) can provide respiratory protection against a variety of gases, vapors, and particulate hazards according to NIOSH approvals
3. 3M Full-facepiece Spray Paint Respirator Kit
Unlike the two mentioned above, this is a full-face respirator that comes with other accessories to make a convenient kit for the painters. The kit comes with 3M a full-face reusable respirator, filters, and cartridges, so you don’t have to buy them separately.
The respiratory mask is made of latex-free soft thermoplastic elastomer (TPE). There is only one size, with 3D dimensions measuring 4.1 x 10.5 x 11 inches, weighs 15.5 ounces.
The kit includes P95 filters and organic vapor cartridges, but you can replace them with 3M 6000 Series Cartridge (Black, Olive, Yellow, White, and Green color code); 3M 2000, 2200, 5000, and 7000 Series (up to P100) Filters.
In the qualitative fit test, the full-face mask is classed AFP 10, while in the quantitative fit test, it can protect up to 50 times permitted exposure level (APF 50).
- It comes with accessories like face shield covers and filter retainers
- It has both visual and respiratory system protection
- The large lens and swept-back cartridge and filter design provide a wider vision
- There is a clearly recommended usage for lacquer, enamel spray paint. Furthermore, replacing with appropriate filters and cartridges can widen the range of protection
- Although it comes with a clear face shield, it can still limit your vision, compared to the half-face option
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4. Safety Works SWX00318
Safety Works has many respirators (both half-mask and full-mask) that can be used for many purposes.
The respiratory mask is made of latex-free soft thermoplastic elastomer (TPE). There is only one size, with 3D dimensions measure 4.1 x 10.5 x 11 inches, weighs 15.5 ounces.
Like other half-mask respirators, it is in the APF 10 class. You can use the SWX filters (up to P100) and cartridges (Black and White color code) to replace on schedule, which means you are well protected from oil-based paints.
- It is made of a thermoplastic elastomer for complete seal and comfort
- Its neck strap and headband are designed for easy putting on and taking off the mask
- It has a low-profile design for unobstructed vision
- Besides painting, it can be used in several DIY projects like sanding and varnishing wood
- It is a bit heavy which is not good for extensive projects
- The choice is limited since it comes only in one size
5. Safety Works SWX00321
The Safety Works Multi-Purpose Respirator is also made of latex-free soft thermoplastic elastomer (TPE), providing comfort. It only has one size as well, 11 x 3.5 x 10.3 inches in three dimensions and weights up to around 6.1 ounces.
This respirator, certified APF 10, protects you from various hazards as its name suggested. It is compatible with many SWX filters (up to P100) and cartridges that work well against organic vapor, Hydrogen Chloride, Chlorine, Sulfur Dioxide, etc.
- It comes with a re-closable package to keep the mask clean and the seal in good shape when not used
- It can be used for at least 8 hours without replacing cartridge/filter
- A built-in exhalation valve allows you to breathe more easily
- It works best for chemical handlings like spraying paints or pesticides
- This multi-protection is a little more expensive than other products
- It can protect you from many but not all respiratory hazards. It doesn’t provide protection against polyurethane paints, which contains isocyanates
Should You Wear Masks When Spray Painting?
People often underestimate the effect of spray painting on their health, especially when they only use it in a short amount of time for DIY projects. But it is highly recommended to always wear a painter’s mask when you are painting. No matter if you are sanding, spaying, or using other painting methods, chances are that you are susceptible to toxic chemicals from the paint vapors and dust.
Reasons to wear respiratory masks:
According to a research in the UK, the workers who worked in automotive painting were more likely to have asthma, which is incurable as a result of frequent inhalation of isocyanates. Besides, other harmful gases and particles affect you in different ways.
Minor and instant short-term health effects:
- red and watery eyes, a sign of eroded membranes
- a runny nose and throat irritation
- headaches and nausea
- tight chest and trouble breathing, etc.
Delayed syndrome and long-lasting health damages:
- weakened respiratory system
- the dysfunctional nervous system, liver, and kidneys, etc.
This should be more than enough reason for you to wear protective masks the next time you do some paint work so that they can fully protect you from painting . But before sprinting to the nearest stores, you should expect that there are many kinds and hundreds of brands out there and choosing the best ones with a reasonable price is a work of art so be skeptical. Different masks would serve different kinds of purpose and stages of your painting projects. Here are a few tips to choose the best and suitable ones.
Tips on How to Choose Best Painters Mask
What You Need to Know Before Choosing Your Mask?
First, you have to decide if your work will take place outdoors or in a closed space like inside your house or in a painted tent. If it is the latter, you must choose respirators incorporating disposable cartridges. The cartridges that contain substances to absorb toxic fumes must be changed every few months or when you can smell paint even when wearing the mask properly. Yes, they expire!
Next, you must learn which types of paint (and their ingredients too) you will use. Solvent-based or oil-based paints usually have more negative effects on your health than water-based paint – which can be cleaned with soap and warm water. So let’s dive into all types of respiratory protection below.
- Disposable (filtering facepiece): filter out contaminants, protect you from paint dust and mist, best for certain water-based paints
- Reusable (elastomeric): filter out the contaminants, protect you from organic vapor, can be used for both water and solvent-based paints
- Powered Air Purifying: filter out the contaminants and provide fresh air from remote sources, protect you better with a higher standard like Assigned Protection Factors (APF) ≤ 1000, apply for a wide range of paints
- Supplied Air: provide fresh air from a remote source (continuously or on pressure demand), protect you from hazards of solvent-paints
What Specifications of the Masks Should You Look at?
- NIOSH-approved filters: at least class N95 (lowest protection, highest is P100), black color code (protect against organic vapor)
- APF for respirators: above 10
- Breathing resistance: the less resistance, the easier you breathe, but it could also mean less protection. It matters when you work continuously for a long period, so choose one that gives the most comfort and safety
Other things you may also consider are:
- Intact, stretchy double straps and multiple headbands to fit and secure the respirator on your face
- Complete, undamaged filter gaskets, and no-distort, soft foam nose and face seal to prevent toxins from leaking in through the gap
- Fitted size: small, medium, or large. You can choose this by checking the dimensions online or go to hardware stores to try the mask on
- Facepiece, inhalation valves, plastic parts, and lens with no signs of cracks, tearing, or dirt. The same thing can be done with the exhalation valve by removing the valve cover first and replace it afterwards
How to Use Your Painters Mask in The Right Way
Buying a good respirator is one step, but it is actually how you wear it the right way that completes the safety process. Here are five simple steps for you to follow and can be applied to most types of painters mask:
- Put the front of the respiratory mask on your face/nose
- Pull the elastic straps over, to the back of your head and fasten it
- Check if it fits by pressing the front of the mask on your face and taking a deep breath through your nose; you will know the mask is tightly sealed if there is a suction around your mouth and nose
- Adjust the strap to fix the mask in the right position
- When you paint, if you can smell the paint, adjust the strap again because the mask might not properly form around your face
But that was not enough; there are other things you need to do to maximize the effectiveness of the mask.
Before You Put on the Mask
You may want to shave or trim facial hair since it can create a gap between your face and the mask, allowing hazards to go in. Or you can press and stuff them in the mask which is more convenient and simpler.
Besides, putting on the mask before you wear protective eyewear may be a wiser choice. Otherwise, the headband or the strap of goggles may loosen the mask seal.
After You Put on the Mask
Most respiratory masks for painters are reusable. Cleaning the mask after using, keeping it in sealed containers like resealable packages or cases, out of your workplace for later use are recommended.
Removing the cartridge is a method that makes sure they won’t absorb any airborne particles when they are not in use, and thus prolong their lifetime.
Our Top-picked Model
3M is the manufacturer with a good reputation and hundreds of products in the personal protection category. In their package, they also give clear instruction, details of the product, and a NIOSH stamp of approval.
This brand is the first to come to mind as it is widely available, at different price ranges, comes in different sizes, and gives protection at many levels. But if you get lost in their matrix model, go for the 3M 6000 series.
It is the most affordable and gives adequate protection against many types of paints and harmful chemicals. Its lightweight and smart design also make it the most comfortable for people who have to work long hours on complicated projects.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are dust masks good enough for spray paint?
The best protection against spray paint hazards is respiratory masks. What you should be looking for is a specialized mask that can absorb gas to protect your health.
Surgical mask works the opposite way of a respirator, preventing bacteria in your mouth from entering the air.
The best is to research, read the details as well as recommended applications of the masks to know what it can protect you from.
Should I use disposable masks?
As mentioned above, disposable masks only provide certain protection against limited kinds of paints. It is advisable to invest in a reusable one which can protect you against many hazards. Some are now designed for easy filter/cartridge replacement and cleaning.
Which is better: half-face or full-face?
It depends on the workload and exposure. In case of works that are more extensive or expose you to more visual hazard, opt for full-face for complete protection. Otherwise, a half-facepiece will be more convenient. Full-face protects all your face but sometimes may make you feel constrained and limit your sights or color perception.
On the other hand, half-face (single or dual cartridge) is lightweight and more comfortable but doesn’t give you full protection other than your nose and mouth.
Can you wear glasses and ear protection with the respirators?
It depends on the model you choose, but you should have no problem with the above-recommended respirators. They are designed so that you can easily don, doff, and use with other protective equipment.
How to clean the reusable respirator?
1. Wash your hands thoroughly to get rid of the remaining paint or chemicals
2. Remove cartridges and filters and disassemble the respirator pieces by pieces as described in the instructions that came with the mask. You need to be careful in this step:
- Don’t lose the cartridge seals and washers
- Set the cartridges aside when washing
- Know where to put all the parts back
3. Soak the respirator in warm water (no more than 122 Fahrenheit), neutral detergent, and disinfectant soap
- Don’t use cleaners that contain lanolin or other oils
- Use soft brushes to scrub the contaminants
4. Rinse again with fresh and warm water
5. Wipe cartridges with cloth, but DO NOT wash them
6. Let the parts air dry
7. Store them at areas away from sunlight, dust, extreme temperature, and chemicals
It can be fun and rewarding to paint over and give your items a new look. But remember that, like other DIY works, spraying paint can give you several health problems.
These effects range from mild symptoms like red eyes to more severe cases of tight chest and damaged nervous system. However there is a good solution to this that you can apply.
Wearing safety painters masks will reduce the chances of developing illness of these potential hazards. 3M lines and Safety Works are the top choices on the market due to their wide range of protection and availability.
I am a licensed architect who is passionate about all things home improvement industries, I have been doing DIY painting projects and have developed lots of experience around home improvement over the 10 years.