Depending on the particular type of work environment that demands such protection, gloves can represent either a casual option or a make-or-break necessity that can easily save fingers and hands from being seriously injured – or perhaps even lost, in extreme circumstances. In recent times, a new innovation in glove coatings emerged, creating what many industry insiders are calling a “game-changing double-dip” that takes the best of traditional palm coatings and rolls them into one unique glove treatment…all devoid of sacrificing tactile sensitivity or dexterity.

We’re referring to nitrile-based coatings, which have become something of an alternative to latex-based glove coverings, though the mission remains constant: Increase grip while enhancing abrasion and liquid resistance. Nitrile creates a tough coating that provides excellent abrasion and puncture resistance, allowing gloves dipped with the substance to stand up well to heavy-duty oils; a drawback of this technology is that a tough coating makes for reduced dexterity and tactile sensitivity, thus rendering gloves coated with nitrile difficult to use when handling small parts.

But when comparing nitrile palm coated gloves with, say, those coated with latex, what are the inherent differences? What makes one better than another, if at all, and what conditions would render one more effective at doing its designated job?

In this post, we’re going to cover a range of areas to answer these questions as best as possible, from understanding nitrile work gloves to briefly analyzing different types of protection, including polyurethane gloves (polyurethane coated gloves).

The Latex Factor

Latex delivers high elasticity and grip when comparing the material to other glove coatings, and this is particularly so when talking about crinkle latex, which boasts formidable grip characteristics as well as superior abrasion and puncture resistance. As such, gloves coated with latex are often used in environments that demand a durable solution to hand protection, including within the construction, metal fabrication, utilities, and waste management industries.

common type of work gloves

A downside of latex coated gloves is that the material contains a protein that can, in some users, cause an allergic reaction.

Latex gloves – as anyone who has visited a doctor’s office in the last few decades or so can attest to – fit like a second skin, with a high sensitivity feel and resistance to chemicals such as acids, bases, chlorine, iodine, and formaldehyde. This is precisely why they’re staples in medical environments, as they represent a formidable barrier against bloodborne pathogens and other contaminants. They’re also food-safe, making them a good fit (no pun intended) for that industry and for manufacturing.


The Different Types of Palm Coatings for Work Gloves

So-called “palm” coatings have been quite the effective addition for work gloves, but choosing the right coating for a specific job or industry can be a bit tricky; take, for example, a photo of three nearly identical palm coatings laid side-by-side, with only one providing superior grip in wet conditions. Would you know which one that was just by looking at them?

At the core, there are four types of palm coatings:

  • PVC
  • Polyurethane gloves (polyurethane coated gloves)
  • Latex
  • Nitrile work gloves


Breaking it Down: Choosing Between Nitrile and Latex

As we have been alluding to throughout this post, both latex and nitrile coated work gloves each brings with them their own benefits, and it will ultimately come down to purpose with regard to which you choose.

orange with black latex coated gloves

Nitrile coated gloves are cut, puncture, abrasion, snag, oil, tear, and fuel-resistant and three times more puncture-resistant than rubber variants. And while it’s not flame-resistant, nitrile does well in a range of temperatures, making gloves coated with it a good choice for tasks dealing with oily parts – such as in metal stamping.

Conversely, latex covered work gloves boast a high elasticity (stretch factor) and superior grip compared to any of the other glove materials, making them able to withstand extreme temperatures and fend-off tears, as well. Latex resists some ketones and alcohols but doesn’t resist hydrocarbon or organic solvents such as gasoline.

Which should you choose? It comes down to your tasks and industry, but when we’re strictly talking safety, it’s best to select the highest-quality glove you can afford.