The Best Portable Welding Screens, Curtains and Blankets
Reviews and Buyer’s Guide
Portable welding screens are essential in any workshop which needs optical protection as well as resistance against high temperatures, sparks and spatter. Depending on your requirements, these can be draped over surfaces and other equipment which needs to be protected, or held vertically to section off your workspace. It’s a good idea to have at least one screen, curtain and blanket to hand, so that you’re adequately protected for every job.
1. Steiner 316-8X10 Velvet Shield 16 oz Black Carbonized Fiber Welding Blanket, 8′ x 10′
For a tough, highly protective welding blanket, this option from Steiner is incredibly lightweight and soft. It weighs just 16 ounces per square yard, so it isn’t thick or bulky, but it still provides protection against sparks, spatter and slag up to 1800°F (982°C). Steiner does produce these welding blankets in several other smaller sizes, making them suitable for a variety of different heavy duty welding applications. CFM approved, this blanket offers thick, reliable protection in a soft, easy to use format.
Although it gives excellent protection and greatly reduces surrounding temperatures when welding, this blanket isn’t suitable for stress relief. It does shed some of its fibers quite easily, so it may not be suitable if you like to keep your workshop looking spotless.
2. Tillman 6042066 6’X6′ 14mil. 2 Panel Blue Vinyl Welding Curtain with Frame
The first thing that sets this curtain apart from our other top picks is that it comes with a frame, so you don’t have to find your own method of hanging it up. The curtain itself is durable and provides protection for heavy duty welding, while its transparent nature gives good visibility if anybody on the other side of the screen wishes to view your work. It has been specially made to disperse the light, so welding with this curtain is really comfortable optically. As you’d expect for a curtain of this quality, it’s both flame retardant and CFM approved.
The only downside to this curtain which we have found so far is that although the inclusion of a frame is really handy, it isn’t the sturdiest contraption in the world. If you’re willing to invest a bit more then you might be able to find a stronger frame separately.
3. Tillman 599B 6’X8′ Medium Duty Leather Welding Blanket
Tillman manufactures a wide selection of highly protective welding screens and blankets, and this is another one of the best on the market. Not only does it protect against sparks and spatter, but the fact that it’s made from leather means that it’s tougher and more resilient than many other similarly priced blankets. As a result, it guards against abrasion as well as heat, while still remaining flexible. This is a great choice for anybody working on a range of projects, from heavy duty applications through to automotive work using thin metals.
Unfortunately, the fact that it’s made from sturdy leather rather than vinyl means that this welding blanket takes up a fair bit of storage space as it’s quite bulky. In addition, it works perfectly as a blanket, but its lack of grommets makes it difficult to hang up or use for anything else.
4. Hiwowsport High Temp Felt Carbon Fiber Welding Blanket Black 6’*4’*1/50′
It’s no secret that carbon fiber is incredibly strong and very lightweight at the same time, which makes it perfect for creating highly protective welding blankets. This one from Hiwowsport resists tears as well as sparks, spatter and light slag. One of its main benefits is that it’s really effective at drawing heat away from the weld, dissipating temperatures as high as 1800°F (982°C) to keep things cool and comfortable. This makes it ideal for use in small spaces where high temperatures can make welding extremely uncomfortable. The fact that this blanket is so flexible means that you can either hang it up or drape it over your equipment and flat surfaces. However, if you do wish to hang it up, you’ll have to find your own method of doing so as no frame is supplied.
5. Tillman 603R68 6′ X 8′ Orange Vinyl Replacement Welding Curtain
At 14mm thick this Tillman welding curtain is thicker than many others, but this means that it gives great protection and resistance against flames, high temperatures, sparks and spatter. Despite its thickness, the curtain is transparent, so it does allow some visibility while still providing adequate protection for the eyes. In this sense, Tillman really excels: the curtain disperses light from the arc, offering protection for your eyes as well as protection against heat. Another CFM approved curtain, this one comes with grommets along every edge, so you can hang it however and wherever you wish – provided that you have a separate frame to do so. The only other downside is that at 5.5 pounds it’s relatively heavy, but this is a small compromise to make for a low price and such good protection.
6. Tillman 604R68 6′ X 8′ 1 Panel Transparent Blue Vinyl Welding Curtain
In many ways this is very similar to many of Tillman’s other welding curtains; it’s CFM approved, flame retardant and transparent, as well as providing optical protection alongside good visibility. Just like the others, this curtain also disperses the arc, making it clearer and easier to see exactly what you’re working on. Suitable for heavy duty welding applications, this curtain sets itself apart from the rest by being so flexible, which is remarkable for such a tough protective layer. It does have grommets – which makes it suitable for hanging vertically – with extras fitted at the corners to make fixing it in place really snug and secure. Aside from all its uses in the workshop, the flexibility and transparency mean that this welding curtain also makes a great sun shield during good weather!
The curtain is described as being ‘transparent’, but it is blue, so the term ‘translucent’ is probably more accurate. It’s worth bearing this in mind if you’re expecting something that you can see through clearly; this does obscure the light slightly, but that’s all part of providing decent protection. You may find that some of the grommets weaken over time – especially if your welding temperatures get very high – which is quite disappointing. However, no frame is supplied with the curtain, so if you do wish to make use of the grommets you’ll have to find an alternative.
Welding screens, curtains and blankets can make a huge difference to your welding environment – the best can disperse heat away from the weld and provide optical protection for anyone on the other side at the same time. However, these generally come at a greater cost, so for those welders who have a smaller budget, some of the smaller, more basic blankets and curtains are great starting points.
Some of the best plasma cutters and welders can reach extremely high temperatures, so ensuring that you’re properly protected can make both your job and your workshop a comfortable and safe place. For the most part, any blanket is better than no blanket, but this handy guide should arm you with the tools you need to get set up as safely as possible.
Transparent or opaque
Opaque (solid) welding blankets don’t let any light through, while transparent and translucent ones do allow some light to filter through. Both options are safe and neither will impact on your welding, but this is something to think about if other people need to see through the barrier while you’re working.
With this in mind, blankets and other protective coverings which are opaque are best suited to being placed flat over surfaces, the floor or other equipment. Transparent materials, on the other hand, work well when fashioned into curtains or screens, so that they can hang vertically and visibility through the barrier is still an option.
As with most fabrics, welding blankets and curtains come in various different thicknesses. The exact thickness of each blanket depends on the material that’s being used and the level of protection which it will offer.
As a general rule, thinner (and consequently lighter weight) fabrics will give lighter protection against heat and spatter, while heavy duty welding and high temperatures require thicker, heavier curtains, blankets and screens. However, this is not a hard and fast rule (carbon fiber is one example of an exception) so read the specifics of each blanket to make sure that it will give the protection that you need. Certain specifications have been set out for some materials, but if you look out for blankets, curtains and screens which are marked as CFM approved, you know that you’ll be well protected.
While you’re considering the weight of the materials, it’s important to remember that it will probably have a direct correlation with the bulkiness and size of the curtains during storage. If you work in tight spaces and don’t have much spare storage space, you’ll probably want to go for something thin, flexible and unobtrusive.
Unless you want the hassle of fashioning your own hooks and fastenings, using a frame is the quickest and easiest way to hang a welding curtain vertically. Some curtains come with a frame included, but these can sometimes be weak and flimsy so you might want to consider investing in a stronger, sturdier frame. Which frame you choose is pretty much a case of personal taste, but pay attention to sizing. Your frame and your curtain should be similar sizes so that they all fit together properly and safely, without having to stretch the curtain or have any excess.
One other popular alternative is having a series of grommets which usually run along the edge of a curtain. Essentially, these are just metal framed holes, through which you can thread a pole, frame or other beam of your choice. The benefits of these are that you can hang your curtain in a matter of moments, and that it can be taken down, moved or replaced very easily.
By now it should be clear that there is a lot more variety between portable welding screens than you might think. There are numerous choices to be made between materials, frames and grommets – on their own they might seem inconsequential, but put them together and they can make a huge difference to the safety and comfort of your welding.
Above all else, look for a reputable brand name, a curtain, blanket or screen which is CFM approved, and suitable protection for your working temperatures. Provided that you hit those three nails on the head, you’ll be well protected against high temperatures, spatter, sparks, slag and bright light.