Protective Gear Every DIYer Should Own

man using table saw with protective gear
  • 1+
  • Beginner
  • 50+

Safety comes first when it's time to DIY. PPE, or personal protective equipment, is the equipment used to keep you safe as you create.

A safe work environment and protective equipment for your person will keep you intact as you tackle all of your projects. If you're wondering where to start with PPE, here's what you need.

Protect Your Head

Head protection is essential for any DIY project where you're working in a constitution zone, working with power tools, or any other project where you're working with heavy materials and power tools.

A standard hard hat is always a good idea. Having one on hand will make head protection easy during any project.

If you're working in a cold climate, it's also a good idea to keep your head warm. Your body loses most of its heat through your head, so keeping your head warm when working out in the cold is essential.

Use a beanie to protect your head in the cold. Make sure to adjust your hard hat over the winter for weather protection.

Using a beanie crafted from Merano Wool or cashmere will allow you maximum warmth with limited bulk, which helps when you're trying to later a hard hat and a beanie.

Shopping list: hard hat and beanie

men in hard hats

Protect Your Eyes

Protecting your eyes is equally important. eye damage can occur in a number of DIY scenarios, so having a good pair of safety glasses or goggles on hand is essential.

Safety goggles can be purchased online or at any home improvement store. If wearing glasses or goggles gives you a headache, you can opt for a full face shield.

These protective eye covers should be worn whenever you are working with power tools, when you're taking on a woodworking project, or when you're working on any project where you can potentially get something in your eye.

Eye damage is incredibly painful, and sometimes very permanent. It's important to protect your eyes, even if you don't love the look of safety goggles.

If you work with metals and welding, it goes without saying that you need to always wear protective eye and face great made to withstand extreme heat and light.

If you have friends or family members join you to DIY, make sure that you have them wear protective eye covering as well. Having I'm extra pair of protective eyeglasses on hand is a good idea.

Protect Your Lungs

It may not be something that you regularly think about when it comes to DIY protection, but your lungs need to be protected as well.

Inhaling particles in harmful chemicals can damage your lungs, and over time, can have a permanent effect.

If you are engaging in a DIY that regularly requires you to inhale harmful chemicals and particles on a regular basis, take extra caution.

For any project where you'll be exposed to particles that can be inhaled you need to wear a quality mask. Masks with activated carbon will keep you safer than masks without.

If you have leftover N95 masks from quarantine, these masks can be used in certain DIY scenarios. If you're going to be working with any chemicals though, we recommend a stronger mask.

N95 masks work for woodworking when you don't want to inhale wood chips or things like that.

If you are spraying paint, especially on a regular basis, it is critical that you invest in a quality paint respirator. A respirator will help filter the air that you're breathing, and protect your lungs from particles that you can't see or even smell.

If you are pregnant, speak to your doctor before you use paint or other strong chemicals in your DIY projects, even if you plan to use a respirator or mask.

If you have other health problems, such as asthma, it is also a good idea to talk to your doctor before you engage in these types of DIY projects, regardless of if you have a mask or not.

girl in mask using power saw

Protect Your Hands

Your hands are the key to several successful DIY projects, so don't risk damaging them in any way, shape, or form.

Most DIYers know that you need to be using protective gloves, but sometimes we get so caught up in our projects that we forget.

There are dozens of different kinds of protective gloves, and it's important that you own the right kind of gloves for the project that you're tackling.

Garden gloves work great to protect your hands from the sun and soil as you work outside, but those gloves aren't going to be what you need to do the heavy lifting while you're building a fence.

Gloves made of fabric, like ones for gardening, will sometimes come coated in another material to make them a little stronger but these gloves are mainly used for mild projects.

Fabric gloves protect your hands from small scrapes, slivers, or cuts. Fabric gloves with coating can also be used while you're working with things like wire to prevent pokes.

Heavy-duty gloves made of materials like leather or metal mesh are designed to protect your hands during intense projects. They protect you from cuts, mild burns, and punctures.

There are also gloves made specifically for when you're working with chemicals. These gloves are liquid-resistant and prevent chemicals from contacting your skin.

These gloves are made to keep you safe from chemicals and will often be taller than the gloves—protecting your wrists and part of your arm as well.

These gloves can be made of anything from latex to rubber or nitrile.

Because latex is a very common allergy, there are lots of alternative options for latex gloves.

Latex can be found in the lining of fabric gloves as well, though, so be cautious when purchasing fabric gloves and know what you are CPE is being made out of.

If you plan on having any help with your DIY projects, we recommend keeping a stash of gloves on hand. Last year we build a cool glove box out of wood where we can store all of our gloves in one spot.

Protect Your Feet

While you're out here protecting your fingers, don't forget about protecting your toes.

One of the most common PPE items that DIYer needs to own as steel-toed boots. Steel-toed boots don't have to be super expensive, but they do need to be functional.

Even the most coordinated person has dropped something heavy on their foot before, during a DIY project – It's just something that happens.

Even if you don't plan on doing a lot of projects that require this kind of foot protection, it's still a good idea to own some quality work shoes like this.

We purchased our first pair of steel-toed boots at a second-hand thrift store for a great deal and found boots in good condition. Once we knew that we were going to need these boots more and more in our DIY life, we were ready to invest in a pair of our own.

Foot covers are also a good PPE item to keep around. Plastic foot covers to protect your shoes and your skin from harmful liquids and damage.

We used to think that people only wore foot covers to protect their shoes from paint splatters, but foot covers can be used to protect feet from chemicals as well.

man in work boots

Protect Your Ears

Everybody knows somebody who's had ear damage after working in a woodshop for a while or tackling one too many DIY projects without earplugs.

Earplugs are inexpensive. Earplugs are something that you can easily purchase online or at a hardware store.

You have no excuse not to be wearing your earplugs.

Ear damage from loud noise isn't always just hearing loss. You can rupture your eardrum, end up with vertigo, or even develop scar tissue in your ear.

And ears aren't something that we can easily repair in the medical community, so protecting them before something bad happens is really important.

We recommend keeping a large stash of earplugs on hand.

Cold air can be equally damaging to your ears. Prolonged exposure to cold air can cause hearing loss and other ear-related complications.

Simply purchasing a pair of earmuffs can help protect your hearing and your overall at your health. Earmuffs are also inexpensive and something that you have easy access to.

If you plan to do outdoor DIYs in cold weather, your muffs are essential. A warm beanie won't cut it.

Regular headphones are not a suitable substitute for earplugs. Even some noise-canceling headphones aren't going to be as effective at blocking out sound as a good pair of earplugs.

If you do plan to use headphones, opt for over-the-ear headphones with a high noise-canceling rating.

Protect Your Body

Some DIYs are going to require that you purchase a full body protection system.

PPE gowns or mechanic suits can be used to help protect your body from cuts, burns, scrapes, slivers, and chemicals.

These kinds of suits do not need to be worn in every DIY situation, but there are certainly DIYs where one of these suits is very beneficial.

Even if you're doing something like making your own candles with lye, we recommend using some sort of protective covering for your body – even if it's just a thick canvas apron.

It's easy to feel Invincible when you're on a creative high as you're bringing your newest DIY life, but the creative process gets interrupted when you end up with a chemical burn or a cut on your leg.

Protecting yourself from the get-go is the way to go.

Common Sense Conflab

While we are on the topic of safety and PPE, it's worth mentioning that there are just some common sense rules you should follow during any DIY.

Firstly, before you started DIY, look at what you're wearing.

If you were wearing something that leaves a lot of skin exposed and you're about to tackle a project with chemicals or power tools, or even hot glue, go change.

The more skin that you leave exposed oh, the more likely you are to end up with a cut or gas or something worse.

We also recommend evaluating your mental state before you turn on a power tool. Are you really tired? If so, you probably shouldn't be operating a saw. That's how our good friend lost his finger.

Are you really stressed and distracted? If so, you probably shouldn't be using a nail gun. That's how our dad ended up with a nail through his foot.

When you are working with DIYs that require you to use tools that are potentially dangerous, you need to be very focused. If you're having an off day and you want to create something, don't play with fire – literally.

There is nothing more exciting than diving into a DIY, but you need to make sure that you're doing it safely.

It's also important that you're working in a clean and hazard-free environment.

If you decide that you're going to build a chair today, but you're doing it in the middle of a dirty garage with tools lying everywhere and a car part next to you, you are just asking to get hurt.

We fully recognize that not everybody has the time, money, or space to create a separate DIY workspace, and that's completely fine. What's not fine is trying to work in a dirty, disorganized, dangerous workspace.

DIY is messy, and we're not talking about the mess that comes while you're creating. We're talking about you ignoring the box of open Nails on the floor and stepping over them a few times until you eventually step on one.

It's also critical that you have first-aid supplies on hand. Every DIYer, at some point or another, ends up with at least a minor injury. It happens.

Having a first aid kit on hand will help reduce the number of trips you have to take to the doctor because a little cut got a lot worse when it didn't get cleaned out correctly.

A basic first aid kit is a good place to start, but we recommend expanding your kit to include items that address burns, larger gashes, and slivers.

If you end up with any head injury, excessive bleeding, or torso damage, seek medical attention. That kind of thing is much bigger than your first aid kit.