Breaking Down Respirators

Man using saw while wearing respirator mask

Respirators, or face masks, are an incredibly useful tool to use around the house, but there are several different kinds, which can make it a bit confusing. It really comes down to the task you’re performing.

The Right Respirator for Your Project

The obvious projects in which respirators are useful are painting, sanding, refinishing furniture, cleaning up aggressively smelly messes, or using cleaners such as bleach or ammonia. There are also some jobs that you never thought to use a respirator, such as shredding leaves or mowing the lawn — those allergens can be sneaky! The point is, you need the right mask for the right job.

There are essentially two kinds of respirators — one to filter gas and another to filter particulates. We carry an extensive line of 3M respirators that includes several products that fall into both of these categories. Although neither are expensive, particulate masks are especially cost-effective, so it makes sense to have a bunch of them lying around your shed or garage for quick access. The Particulate Respirator N95 by 3M® is a customer favorite for general use.

Particulate Respirators

Particulate respirators are designed to prevent small particles such as dust, pollen, or fiberglass from being inhaled. They can vary in design from inexpensive paint-prep masks to the sturdier odor respirator. There are particulate respirators that are almost hybrids with the vapor respirators, such as those used for mold and lead paint, but they are still primarily designed to protect you from the airborne particles.

Gas or Vapor Respirators

Gas or vapor respirators, on the other hand, tend to be a little more complex, usually involving cartridges that are specific to the job you are planning. It’s important to note that vapor respirators do not filter out particles, but you can wear both a particulate and vapor mask simultaneously. They are built to filter both acid and organic gases, ammonia, bleach, etc.

K&B True Value carries an impressive line of 3M masks made specifically for painting, sanding, and insulation, as well as a variety of vapor masks. We even have a complete safety kit that includes goggles, particulate masks, and earplugs. We have your eyes, lungs, AND ears covered! Literally.