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I am planing to spray-paint some cabinets.

Do I need a full face-mask or not?

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NEED? Debatable. SHOULD? I'd say yes. – DA01 Jul 26 '13 at 0:43
Full face mask? Perhaps not, but some level of personal protection is required. What that is depends on the type of paint used. (and remember DA01, this is for a single DIY project ;) ) – bcworkz Jul 26 '13 at 1:41
Voting to close as opinion-based, but would also support closure based on lack of information. OP says nothing about environmental conditions or product. – isherwood May 10 at 21:29

Lungs weren't made to filter out latex aerosols, organic solvents, urethane, epoxy fumes.

Any time you're spray painting, you should at least have a dust filter. Coughing up paint may be something you put up with in an unregulated factory, but given that masks that do the job aren't really that expensive anymore, your lung capacity will be a lot better when you're 60 and need the reserve you burnt off in youthful immortality.

Some of the paints out there can confer permanent, life-threatening allergy. We had a whole paint shop workforce here that took pride in skirting safety. Until a good portion found that painting is no longer a career option. The shop owner got religion after that.

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Local painters union requires vapor masks for all spray painting, they suggest dust masks while rolling, and no requirement when brushing. Source I had 10 painters working for me on an apartment rehab last summer.

Having said that I wear a dust mask while spraying and nothing all other times.

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You absolutely need something. A dust mask will do, but I always recommend a dual-filter respirator. They aren't expensive and provide much more protection. You don't want those chemicals in your lungs. As usual, no shortcutting is the best rule.

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What, exactly, will a dust mask "do"? Nothing, IMO. We're dealing with vapors, mostly, and not particulates. – isherwood May 10 at 21:28

Start by checking the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for the product you're using, for recommendations on personal protective equipment. In most cases, you'll want at least:

  • A well ventilated work space.
  • An appropriate respirator (air supplied where applicable).
  • Protective clothing (Hooded Tyvek® suits are common).
  • Eye protection.
  • Gloves

The type of personal protection equipment used really depends on the paint and spray equipment you're using, and the environment which you're using it in. At the very least, you'll want a respirator and eye protection. A dust mask is not an appropriate face covering for spray painting.

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