Choosing the Right Work Gloves for your DIY Project

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When I was about ten years old, I found a super cool button on the street. On it was a picture of a smiling balloon surrounded by hearts. It didn’t make a lot of sense to me, but not much back then did anyway (it was the late ’80s). Despite this, I decided to pin it on my jean jacket and wear it around town. It wasn’t until about five days later – days in which I had gone to school, grocery shopping and to the mall, and attended a friend’s piano recital – that my mom finally noticed what was adorning my jacket. And just like that, my button of the friendly balloon – which turned out to actually be a smiling condom with the caption “No Glove, No Love!” beneath it – was yanked from my jacket and whisked out of my life forever.

And what does this embarrassing story have to do with today’s HomeFixated blog post? Very little. Well, except for the fact that if you want to tackle some DIY love (of the home reno and DIY project variety), it’s best that you also get the right work glove (of the on-your-hands variety). No glove, no love, people.

Just like prophylactics, not all gloves are the same – although very few are made “for her pleasure.” Mostly, they’re designed to help you keep all your digits intact [insert your own joke here]. As you intelligent people have likely already guessed, it’s the kind of material you’re handling that determines the sort of protective glove you should choose for the job. I could take a guess as to which gloves to use when, but since HomeFixated’s legal counsel has asked me to stop giving advice based on my “gut feelings,” we turned to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Personal Protective Equipment Guide for more information.

Some things to consider when choosing your glove include:

  • What chemicals are you dealing with? Not sure? Read the labels.
  • Are you working with something that could splash on you? Will be you be submerging your hands into anything? Holding onto something?
  • How long will you be exposed to the material?
  • Will your grip be affected? Is the material slippery, oily or wet?
  • Is the material hot, cold or prone to changing in different temperatures or conditions?
  • Are abrasions (from anything from friction to wood slivers to glass shards) a concern when dealing with the material?
  • Do you need to cover just your hands, or do your arms need protection as well?
  • Are there other safety factors to consider, like dealing with live electricity or radiation? (And if the latter, are you SURE you want to be DIY’ing it?!)

All that and finding a pair of gloves that fit you comfortably (and stylishly! Never forget style!) should be considered. Once you have assessed the job at hand, there are basically four different categories of gloves to choose from:

  • Gloves made of leather, canvas or metal mesh (this includes aluminized, aramid and synthetic gloves). These are largely protective against the threat of cuts, burns and some heat – all to various degrees. There are a lot of these gloves on the market, so it’s best to explore what the manufacturers say about them – their thickness, intended use – as well as trying them on to see how easy they are to use.
  • Fabric and coated-fabric gloves. These are most often used for protection in light work that does not involve anything particularly jagged, hot or chemical-laden. Think gardening or simple work like brick-laying where you want to avoid calluses and dirt.
  • Chemical and liquid-resistant gloves. These can be as simple as your standard latex glove to industry-grade nitrile gloves. There are a whole slew of chemicals out there that you could be potentially working on, so it’s best to look up the material in the guide (page 26) and see the best type of chemical-resistant glove to buy. The manufacture’s label on the materials you’re using should also provide a recommendation on the kind of glove best used. The general rule of thumb is ” the thicker the glove material, the greater the chemical resistance” – however, thick gloves may impact your grip and dexterity.
  • Insulating rubber gloves. These are mainly for instances when you’re working with electricity – but don’t be foolish – they’re a safety back-up, and not an excuse to play with live wires haphazardly.

We suggest you check out Superior Glove’s Work Gloves 101 for specific examples of gloves and the jobs you can complete safely with them. Yes, it’s a bit of homework, but if you’re serious about tackling DIY and home improvement projects around the house this year, you should take all the right precautions. It’s something I’ve been telling people since I was ten years old: no glove, no love.

Photo of author

About Jen

Jen (but never “Jenn”) Byck, aka the Fix'n Vixen, is a Toronto-based freelance writer and communication consultant who is undoubtedly home fixated (she is also TV fixated, really bad TV fixated and donut fixated). Her approach to home improvement has been rather trial and error, the latter of which is evidenced by the amount of spackle she buys on an annual basis.

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