Joe Smith, owner/operator at Smith Floor Solutions in Centralia, Ill., tried the RZ Mask M2 and M2.5 Reusable Dust/Pollution masks, along with the company's F1 and F3 active carbon filters:

I was particularly interested in trying these respirators, as I've developed a severe sensitivity to many things on our job sites after making some really bad choices earlier in my flooring career, so I always use a respirator. I got the M2 mesh mask, which has a single hook-and-loop strap, and the M2.5 mesh mask, which has two adjustable elastic straps, more like what we are used to with other respirators we'd use on a job site.

I found the 2.0 was comfortable only if I was standing upright; if I was edging or doing anything requiring multiple body positions it started to chafe my neck. I used it for half a day and went to the 2.5. Unfortunately the stitching on one of the straps with the adjustable buckles let go the first time I got it out, so I had to repair it before I could use it. Once fixed, I found the 2.5 had an easily customized fit.

The mask isn't very rugged, but the benefit is you don't have a lot of weight on your face. I could wear it longer without getting that super-hot, sweaty feeling you get with a silicone mask. The breathability was great—instead of all the air coming in and out of two small entry points, you breathe in through the whole mask and exhale through two small valves, so your ease of taking a breath is a lot better. The active carbon filters purify the air while filtering dust. The company says the F3 filter has 40% better breathability compared with the F1; I could tell the difference between the two but had no issues breathing through the F1. I think the filter life is a little short for the price—the company says they are good for 20–30 hours of continuous use in heavy dust exposure and 30–40 hours in light dust exposure.

I used the mask for everything from thinset removal to slab prep to sanding, cutting and applying stain and finish. When I used it for applying stain, I didn't have that stain taste in my mouth, but at the end of the day I could tell I had been exposed to it more than I am with my painters respirator (I don't know if it was because of the filter itself or the fact that it doesn't make as tight of a seal around your face as silicone). Going forward, I'm going to use my old respirator for stain/finish but keep using the 2.5 mask for anything involving dust, because it worked great for that and was very comfortable.

Retail:

M2 Mesh Reusable Mask (including 2 F1 filters): $34.95
M2.5 Dual-Strap Mesh Mask (including 2 F1 filters): $34.95
RZ F1 Standard Filter + Active Carbon (3-pack): $6.95
RZ F3 High-Flow Filter + Active Carbon (3-pack): $12.95

 

Watch Joe Smith share his thoughts here:

 

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