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So, you’re tired of hacking and coughing for a week after you finish a big sanding or painting project and you’ve decided to invest in a respirator? Good for you! Your doctor will applaud you and your lungs will thank you. But which one should, or will, be the best one for you?
There’s a lot of respirators out there on the market today and most of them will make you look like a cross between Hannibal Lecter and a doomsday prepper. But you’re not trying to win any beauty contests here—you’re trying to protect your health. Keep that in mind when choosing which mask to purchase.
We’re here to help you make that decision! We’ve studied the different offerings, compared them, and analyzed their costs and benefits. Each of our reviews gives you a short description of the product, followed by a list of pros and cons. By the time you’re done reading our analyses, you’ll have a much better idea of which mask is right for you and your individual situation.
|3M 7162 Full-Facepiece|
|3M 07192 Paint Spray Resp.|
Anyone who’s ever been in the military will be familiar with gas masks. Today they call them respirators but they are functionally, and aesthetically, identical to a military gas mask.
The full face shield allows you maximum visibility while wearing it, and still provides wonderful protection at the same time. The mask gives you fresh air even while sanding, polishing, cleaning, or painting. If you’ve ever found yourself coughing your lungs out after spray painting a room, you’ll know how nice it is not to have to do that anymore.
Sanding kicks up a lot of tiny particulates into the air that irritates your eyes, making them burn so badly you feel like you’ve been in the desert for the last ten years. That dry, gritty feeling is horrible. This mask prevents that from happening. Once the airtight seal is in place, nothing gets in your eyes. What a relief!
It’s lightweight and comfortable to wear.
You can’t wear glasses with this mask though. If you need corrective lenses you’ll have to invest in some contacts when you’re using this mask. Aside from that, this mask is the cat’s meow.
This half-mask comes in either medium or large. It’s compact, lightweight, and has a flexible design for a comfortable fit on a wide range of facial sizes and shapes. Any mask will irritate and run after wearing it for several hours, but this one takes longer than most to get to that point, which is a definite plus.
This mask filters out particulate matter, but not fumes. It says that right on the packaging. So if you’re looking for something to eliminate fumes, this isn’t it. But if you’re trying to keep dust particles, sand, and grit out of your nose and lungs, this mask will do the job. If you have allergies, this mask also helps by keeping out pollen from trees and bushes. Most of the “surgical masks” you see people wearing don’t do that. But this one does.
If you wear glasses, you can wear them with this mask, which is a great bonus feature for those who don’t like contacts.
This is a good mask for what it’s designed to do, but it can’t compete with a full-facepiece mask like our top pick.
This is a disposable mask, which has its good points and its bad points. First, the good.
Since it is disposable it’s fairly inexpensive. You don’t have to make any adjustments to it or muck around trying to change any filters. You use it and lose it. End of story.
On the other side of the equation, it’s disposable. If anything goes wrong with it, you’ll never get your money back from the manufacturer. You might be able to take it back to the retailer and exchange it, but that isn’t guaranteed either.
The face strap adjustments are minimal. It either fits or it doesn’t. If it doesn’t, you’ll have a hard time returning it or getting a refund. This is like one of those embarrassing hospital gowns—one size fits none. But since it’s only designed to keep out particulates, this isn’t as important as you might think. And obviously, there isn’t any protection for your eyes.
If it fits and doesn’t break, you’ll get about twenty hours’ worth of protection out of it. Then you’ll have to buy another one. The cost of replacing it adds up over time, but for the price, you can’t ask much more than this.
Some of these respirators will qualify for free shipping, but others won’t. The disposable one(s) most likely will not qualify. But since they are disposable you might need to get more than one, especially if you’re working on a big project. Buying more than one disposable respirator might set you up to qualify for free shipping, at which point it becomes a pretty good deal.
If you only need one disposable respirator, it might be cheaper to purchase it at a local hardware or paint store. Even if you have to pay sales tax, it still might be cheaper than paying for online shipping.
This is a good question that doesn’t have one answer for everyone. The reason is that there are so many different kinds of projects where you might need different levels of protection.
A simple sanding or woodworking project doesn’t need the cost and impact of a full-face respirator. That’s like bringing a Maserati to a go-cart race. It’s overkill.
On the other hand, if you’re spray painting an inside room, or a whole house (including the ceiling), a disposable mask isn’t going to cut the mustard. Paint fumes will fill the air, getting into both your lungs and eyes. You’ll need something that will protect them. You’ll need to wear a respirator that will last for the whole project, one that has replaceable filters.
A good respirator is one that protects you from the normal side effects of the project you’re working on. Depending on what you’re doing, you might need to have more than one kind of respirator.
Make sure you keep your receipt, especially if you’re buying online. If you’re buying in person from a local store, you know exactly what you’re getting because you’ve got it in your hand when you walk up to the checkout counter. But online is different.
Far too commonly, people buy one thing online, only to receive a different model or something else entirely. Even the best retail websites do this—probably more often than you think.
When the website concludes your order it should allow you to print your order. Do it. If you’re buying from your phone, try to download a copy of the page so you can print the receipt later. But whatever you do, print it.
An electronic version of the order page is good too. Take a screenshot of it. That way you can email it to the company right away in case you receive the wrong product. When you’re dealing with smaller purchases like this that generally don’t include a warranty, these kinds of steps are often your only protection.
Two of the most obvious options you need to pick up for these respirators are the replaceable vapor filters and particulate filters. Get several packages of each one and you’ll be good to go. It’s tough to be in the middle of a major project and realize that the filter you’re using is giving out and you don’t have any more on hand. Don’t get caught in a crunch. Go ahead and get them ahead of time.
Cleaning solutions are also a good add-on to get when you purchase your respirator. You will sweat when you’re wearing your respirator, and the smell of stale sweat from sitting overnight isn’t one you want to face first thing in the morning when you get ready for another day of work. Wash your respirator each night with a gentle solution and let it dry until morning. Your nose will thank you.
Now you’ve come to the end of our reviews. We’ve laid out the different masks, their pros, and cons, what they’ll do for you, and the benefits you’ll get from them. Now it’s time to roll up your sleeves and decide which one is best for you.
The spot for top pick goes to the 3M 7162 Full-Facepiece respirator. 3M has a great reputation. They deliver quality products, and this is one of their better ones. It’s a commercial-grade mask that filters out fumes, particulate matter, and protects your eyes. This one does it all.
And (no real surprise here) the 3M 07192 Paint Spray respirator also takes the “best for the money” spot. It’s a disposable mask designed strictly for filtering particulates out of the air. It does that job quite well.
Hopefully, we’ve been able to help you and guide you in making your decision with the information we’ve provided you about these respirators.
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