Paint can be divided into three major categories:

  • Solvent-based paints
  • Water-based paints
  • Powder paints

Regardless of the type of paint used, each requires a specific level of protection against the risks users are exposed to when preparing surfaces or applying paint.

Protective garments will safeguard those applying the paint, but they will also protect sensitive processes involved in the project. Let's go over the risks and then discuss the PPE that will mitigate them.

Protecting the Wearer

Painting activities involve a number of steps, each of which brings its own risks. Typically, the process involves some form of surface preparation, which may include physical or chemical removal techniques. Physical techniques could involve sanding, scrapping, or sandblasting. Depending on the type of paint or coating being applied, mixing two or more components may be required prior to application. The major paint application techniques include manually brushing or rolling, dipping, and spray or electrostatic application. There also may be a clean-up aspect to the work that needs to be considered.

Choosing the type of protective clothing best suited to the situation depends on a number of factors, including:

  • The products handled
  • The type of paint or surface treatment product used
  • The concentration of the chemicals
  • The type of application (projection, spraying, etc)

There are also a variety of exposure scenarios to be aware of, depending on the step in the process and the type of paint or coating involved. Dry particulates are often associated with prep activities. They might also be involved with powder coating applications. Liquid aerosols are especially a concern for spray applications. Liquid splashes need to be considered for mixing, brushing, rolling, and dipping applications. Some types of paintwork present risks not only when applying the paint, but also when preparing the paint or cleaning tools, using solvent washers, and so on.

Regardless of the tasks involved, there are a variety of activities that workers engage in that challenge the durability of the garments being used. Common scenarios include bending, crouching, and squatting or encountering rough or abrasive surfaces like metal, concrete, and wood.

Conducting a risk assessment is a critical step to ensuring that the worker is properly protected from the risks to which they are exposed. For example, a garment suitable for a water-based paint application may not be suitable for a solvent-based paint application. Similarly, in a situation where the durability of the garment may be challenged, the end user would want to consider a material structure that offers a high degree of abrasion resistance.

Protecting the Process

In some cases, protective clothing must not only protect employees from exposure, but also protect the manufacturing process against human contamination (similar to a clean room application).

To avoid additional costs and prevent any quality issues, it is important for the garments used during paint activities and surface treatment operations, particularly in spray painting, not to shed fibers or cause contamination. In these types of applications, the quality of the paint or coating is critical and particles and fibers shed from the garment fabric or from the worker’s body can have a negative impact on the finished product.

Protective Apparel for Painting Applications

For many types of painting and finishing work requiring liquid and particulate protection, Tyvek® protective provide the required level of exposure control. Tyvek® protective apparel is especially effective against water-based and powder paint, given the size of the particulates.

Tyvek® consists of ultra-fine, continuous high-density polyethylene fibers, which are compressed under high heat and pressure to form a non-woven material. The unique structure of the material offers a high degree of protection against airborne particles and many water-based inorganic chemicals. As the non-woven structure of the material forms a multi-layer barrier, its barrier performance will remain intact even if the outer layers become damaged in places. Beyond the durability of the material – Tyvek® is highly resistant to abrasion and tearing – its low linting surface is less likely to affect the final product.

Interested in learning more about PPE for Painting Applications? Join DuPont’s free webinar on Thursday, February 1st at 1PM ET to learn in detail about the hazards associated with painting, the fabric technologies used in different types of painting applications, and the key considerations you’ll want to keep in mind to keep your workers safe and productive.

Check out the rest of our content about Personal Protective Equipment here.