Tricks of the Trade

Hand protection – Get a grip on the right work glove for the job

Robbie Foglia, a Ferguson author

by Robbie Foglia


Your hands are the most important tool in your toolbox, which is why it’s so important to protect them from jobsite hazards with the best kind of work gloves. Just like you use the right tool for the job, you also need to pick the right pair of gloves for the task at hand. Keep your fingers intact by learning about the different work gloves on the market and discover which gloves best fit the needs of your trade.

Leather work gloves for contractors

Leather work gloves

Made from the hides of livestock, leather work gloves provide protection from cuts, abrasions, and cold weather. Gloves constructed from this natural material are sturdy enough for general labor and manual tasks that do not require a high level of dexterity. The type of leather you choose will make a difference in usability and comfort.


There’s a reason why pigskin leather is often used to make horse saddles, and that’s because of the durability this material offers. Pigskin gloves are ideal for jobs that demand extra protection from cuts and scrapes.


Gloves made from cowhide are heavier than most other types of leather gloves, but are still pliable enough to form to the shape of your hands over time. Bovine-based gloves are rugged enough to withstand daily use.


Also referred to as buckskin, deerskin leather is known for being both strong and supple. This lightweight leather makes deerskin gloves optimal for workers whose hands need to be more agile on the job.


The naturally occurring oil in goatskin leather, known as lanolin, makes gloves crafted from this material incredibly soft. Choose goatskin work gloves if comfort on the job is your primary concern.

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Synthetic work gloves for contractors

Synthetic gloves

Gloves made from synthesized materials can give your hands unique protection from certain elements that gloves made from organic materials cannot. Depending on the type of material, synthetic gloves can be a barrier from toxic chemicals, harsh temperatures, and even lesions.

PVC or rubber

A PVC glove is the technical name for what is commonly referred to as a rubber glove. PVC is a waterproof material that can safeguard your skin from irritation and chemical burns. These gloves can help your hands stay safe when using commercial solvents for industrial applications.


Woven Kevlar is a synthetic material known for its durability and provides superior protection from cuts and lacerations. Depending on the thickness of the material, Kevlar gloves can keep your hands safe when handling glass and sheet metal.


Used in maritime, aeronautical, and other demanding industrial applications, this ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene product is cut-resistant. Dyneema woven gloves are ideal for use in situations in which lacerations are a threat.


Gloves made from latex rubber are ultrathin, moisture-resistant, and are mass-produced. These qualities make latex gloves perfect for single-use instances, such as when working with biohazards such as raw sewage or bodily fluids.


An alternative to the disposable latex glove is the nitrile glove, which is similar in texture and weight to its latex counterpart. People who are sensitive to latex can choose these latex glove substitutes for the same biohazard protection without the threat of an allergic reaction.

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Special purpose work gloves for tradesmen

Special purpose gloves

Some gloves are designed specifically for a certain use. These gloves can be made from a variety of materials, including a blend of natural and synthetic fabrics. These gloves are tailor-made to keep your hands protected when used to complete a special task.

Mechanic gloves

These gloves are designed to allow workers to grip small nuts, bolts, and screws while protecting hands from oil and grease. Use mechanics gloves when working on engines as they are ideal when you need to be able to grip small pieces and parts.

Drain cleaning gloves

A drain cleaning machine requires the operator to handle a metal snake that could easily gouge the skin. These leather mitts with metal studs are an optimal choice for handling the metal snake to safely clean drains.

Welding gloves

Heat resistance is critical when selecting a pair of gloves for welding. Leather gloves with an extra long cuff are ideal welding gloves, but be sure to check the thickness of the leather to determine if the gloves are appropriate for the type of welding you’re doing.

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Robbie Foglia, a Ferguson author

Robbie Foglia

Robbie Foglia, a native of Norfolk, VA, brings 10 years of experience in digital media writing to Ferguson, where he authors informative content for plumbing, HVAC and general contractors about trade trends, new tools and tips for improving your contracting business.