When working on any kind of home improvement project safety should always be taken seriously and with tile it is no different. This should be the case regardless of how big or small the job. In fact more often than not, it is when completing smaller tasks that we often feel we can get away with or don’t really need to take the proper precautions. And that’s when accidents happen. So we’ve come up with a basic safety kit to keep you out of harm’s way.
Tiles can have razor sharp edges and that doesn’t only mean when they come straight off the tile saw. One of the easiest ways to get cut is actually when ripping out old tile from an installation. These tiles are often teeming with bacteria and germs especially in the bathroom and can cause some nasty infections even when performing very basic tile removal.
For this reason heavy gloves are a must when ripping out old tiles. Of course when cutting new tile too you will need them to keep your fingers and hands safe from those edges and flying tile chips.
When cutting tile on a wet saw, grinder, or masonry saw you’ll definitely need a pair of quality safety glasses or goggles to keep dust and debris from getting into your eyes as there can be quite a lot. They will also protect your eyes from stray tile chips.
You’ll also want to wear glasses when using a tile cutter or even tile nippers. Although these last two might not seem like they would require it, tile chips can be thrown when using them too, so it’s better to be safe than sorry especially when your eyes are concerned.
A dust mask is also essential to keep you from inhaling dust and debris. Silica dust in particular, which is made up of small pieces of glass, can be very dangerous when inhaled. It is found in ceramic clay so is something to watch out for when cutting ceramic tiles. A National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health or NIOSH approved mask rated N-95 or higher is recommended.
You may also want to consider a mask that has a rubber faceplate. These offer more protection because they fit much better around your mouth and nose. For those who work with tile on a regular basis a charcoal-filter mask is an efficient choice since it protects against dust but also fumes and vapors which can emitted by some solvent-based setting materials.
Wet saws along with other tile cutting power tools can be very loud. To protect yourself from hearing damage you’ll need safety ear muffs. This is especially true if you will be cutting for long periods of time as exposure to loud sounds over time can cause hearing loss.
Knee problems are something no one wants. When you’re down on your knees setting tile or applying tile grout knee pads will help. You won’t have to worry about bruising, they can help prevent future problems, and can make the process very comfortable. Some even have a layer of gel to make them even more comfy. Purchasing a high quality pair can save you from some seriously throbbing knees after a few hours on the floor.
A Portable Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupter
Using power tools around water is just something that comes with tiling. And since water and electricity can equal some serious injuries or worse you need to be very careful. A portable ground-fault circuit interrupter also called a GFCI, provides an extra level of protection and can simply be plugged right into an existing outlet and then your tools are in turn plugged into it. This will cut off the power to your tools preventing an electric shock if you become part of the circuit.
For jobs both big and small the proper safety equipment is always necessary. These six items will help protect you from the vast majority of problems and accidents that can potentially happen when tiling. Depending on the project at hand you may not need all of them but as a basic safety kit they are worth every penny and for larger jobs essential.
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