• Tips for Selecting Respirators

    What to use in 5 common scenarios.

    By Jason T. Lunn & Rebecca L. Schumann

    As originally published in the Spring 2016 issue of Sherwin-Williams' Professional Painting Contractor Magazine, updated December 2016.

    Let's look at what type of respirator would typically be used in a few common painting scenarios.

    Before occupational use of this respirator, a written respiratory protection program must be implemented meeting all the requirements of OSHA 29 CFR 1910.134 including, but not limited to, medical evaluation, fit testing, and training, and applicable OSHA substance specific standards. In Canada, CSA standard Z94.4 requirements must be met and/or requirements of the applicable jurisdiction, as appropriate.

    • Preparing Drywall

      1. Preparing drywall or latex paint

      Any N95 or higher respirator can be used for preparing drywall. However, if you are preparing surfaces that contain lead-based paint, you must use a “100” class particle filter (i.e., N100 or P100).

    • Applying Latex Paints

      2. Applying latex paints

      A disposable respirator with a carbon layer will help filter out the odor associated with VOCs in paint. For heavier applications of latex paint, consider a reusable respirator with an organic vapor cartridge. If you are spraying, add a particulate prefilter to capture the mist.

    • Oil Based Paints

      3. Working with oil-based paints and stains, solvents and coatings

      Consider a half or full face piece with an organic vapor cartridge and particulate prefilter.

    • Faux Finishes

      4. Working with decorative or faux finishes

      Faux finishes can include any number of chemical components, so consult the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) for chemical composition to choose a cartridge appropriate for the hazards.

    • Asbestos Removal

      5. Working with asbestos removal or mold remediation

      Asbestos and lead have their own substance-specific standards in the OSHA regulations and both require a “100” class filter. For asbestos, you’ll need at minimum a half-face piece reusable respirator with 100-class particulate filters. There are no government exposure limits for mold, but the EPA has guidelines for respiratory protection based on the level of contamination.

      For more information on lead, asbestos and mold, we recommend you check out the links below.

      For homeowners:

      For professionals: