Last Updated on January 2021
Which offers better protection for welding – jackets or aprons? As an avid steelworker, you may find this question difficult to answer. One thing is for sure; you need flame resistant clothing to protect you from sparks, splatter, and heat.
Both coats and bibs can be useful in shielding your upper body from hot and flying metal particles, and the best option for you depends on your unique circumstances. To help you make an informed decision, we did some research on the benefits and drawbacks of each clothing type.
In this article, we will also be taking an in-depth look at comparisons, safety design options, buying considerations, different specifications, materials, safety requirements, and more. By the time you reach the end of the article, you will hopefully know exactly what you need to protect yourself when welding and doing steelwork.
Keep reading to learn more.
Welding coats VS Aprons – Comparisons
Welding Safety Design Options
There are several safety design options available for body protection. The two most popular designs are welding jackets and aprons.
Welding jackets look like typical attire that you may wear every day, but they are made from durable and fire-resistant materials. An apron hangs from the neck and can extend down to cover the front of the upper body, waist, and upper legs.
Since bibs have a smaller coverage area than coats, one may immediately conclude that jackets are the best option. Since each safety option has its benefits and drawbacks, this is not necessarily the case; however, there are several considerations to keep in mind.
What to Consider
Generally speaking, bibs are more suitable for warmer climates where coats are the preferred option for people living in colder areas.
Aprons are typically the best option if mobility is a primary requirement.
Type of Welding
If you’re doing a lot of overhead and vertical work, a bib may not offer sufficient protection.
An experienced welder can, generally speaking, get away with less protection. If you are comfortable with welding and prefer fewer layers of fabric, an apron may work well for you.
How are the Two Different?
The most significant difference between these two options is the body coverage they provide. A bib is open at the back like a conventional cooking apron and typically only covers the chest partially. You’ll get no arm, shoulder or neck coverage with an apron.
Welding coats, on the other hand, cover the upper body completely. If you need full arm, shoulder, chest, and neck protection, this will be your best option.
Bib and Coat Specs
Common Design Materials
Jackets and aprons protect against the same hazards, so they are typically made from the same materials.
The most common fabrics include leather, Kevlar, nylon, and rawhide. Each type has its area of specialty, but for optimal fire resistance, opt for leather or rawhide. Leather is one of the most durable materials available.
Nylon is suitable for people who prefer a lighter weight, enhanced durability, and reduced heat build-up.
Styles and Cut
The most prominent difference between bibs and coats is the styles and cut that each provides. With aprons, the back and arms are open, and the section in front of the waist may extend to the sides, upper legs, and knees. The top cut is horizontal across the chest.
Jackets have a conventional cut. At the throat, the cut may allow for neck protection. Both options typically offer pockets to make tools more accessible.
Safety Coverage Area
With an apron, your back is completely exposed, and the arms are open to allow for uninhibited mobility and precision work. Since aprons don’t provide arm protection, they are only suitable for light-duty work.
Bibs offer upper leg and knee protection that jackets don’t. If you do work at knee-height, this may be the more suitable solution.
Jackets offer extensive protection from the waist to the neck. To protect your wrists and hands, you’ll need to wear gloves. Some coats may not feature neck protection.
The comfort level of aprons and jackets respectively depends on the climate, application, and fabric thickness. As a rule, bibs tend to be more comfortable as their open cut doesn’t result in heat build-up, and arm movement is not restricted.
In colder climates, jackets serve to keep you warm and safe, making it the more comfortable option. If the fabric is too thick and stiff, however, it can reduce comfort.
Welding Gear Care
Although protective clothing doesn’t have to be in a spotless condition, it is necessary to keep them clean to prolong their lifespan and prevent them from becoming stiff and emitting odors.
To clean your jacket or apron, take a cloth and moisten it with soapy water. Then, run it over the jacket or apron while focusing on areas that are particularly dirty. Rinse the cloth whenever it gets too dirty.
If the bib or coat is made of leather, apply a leave-in leather conditioner after cleaning.
Putting your jacket or apron in a tumble dryer can damage it severely. Instead, hang dry the apparel in the sun or your workshop if it’s raining outside. Hang the clothing straight from washing pegs, and don’t bend the clothing over the line.
Before use, make sure that your jacket or apron is completely dry.
Welding Jackets are a Better Safety Option
Safety comes first, and all other considerations like comfort and mobility should be treated as secondary.
If you are an experienced welder that will only do light-duty work, an apron may be sufficient, but it doesn’t provide full coverage.
Insufficient protection can result in severe and debilitating personal injury, and you should never compromise safety for the sake of comfort.
To conclude, when facing a decision between a welding jacket and apron, a jacket is always recommended as it provides full coverage.