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Your guide to buying heat guns

It might seem like a bit of a specialist tool, but a heat gun is really versatile and a great addition to any DIY toolbox.

Whether you’re stripping paint, ageing wood, bending plastic or heat shrinking, you’ll be amazed at just how much time the right heat gun can save you in terms of time, hassle and effort on a range of DIY and decorating tasks.

There are a few things to think about when choosing a heat gun – let us guide you through the process with this expert buying guide.

What should you look for in a heat gun?

Temperature control

Almost all heat guns have some kind of temperature control, so that you can work safely on different materials. Generally, the more expensive the heat gun, the more settings and the higher range of temperatures it will have.

Basic heat guns (sometimes known as hot-air strippers) generally have at least two temperature settings, whereas more sophisticated guns offer a wider range, up to about 350°C. Professional models tend to have an even higher range of temperatures, up to 500°C and often come fitted with an LED temperature indicator for precision control.

Using a heat gun at the right temperature for the task at hand is vital. If the temperature is too low, then your heat gun won’t work effectively, and if it’s too high, it could burn, melt or crack the materials you’re working with. Being able to control the temperature of your heat gun means you can use it for a wide range of jobs; from melting adhesives and bending plastic, to paint stripping, soldering and thawing frozen pipes.

Nozzle options

All heat guns come with a standard wide mouth nozzle for general use. Most models are also available with a number of additional interchangeable attachments useful for a range of specialist jobs.

These include:

  • Fishtail nozzles – for spreading the heat over a wider area.
  • Cone nozzles – for concentrated, precision heat.
  • Glass protectors – for shielding windows when you’re stripping frames..
  • Spoon reflectors – for soldering pipes

Some models even come supplied with an integral scraper. These provide one-handed operation, making them ideal for stripping paint when up a ladder.

Basic safety

Some heat guns are capable of producing temperatures in excess of 500°C, so it’s really important to take the proper safety precautions before use.

You should protect your eyes by wearing safety goggles and protect feet with heavy-duty footwear such as steel-capped boots. Never point a heat gun anywhere other than the area you’re working on, and always keep them away from pets and out of the reach of children.

It’s also important to let your heat gun cool down before putting it away – some heat guns come fitted with a stand for this purpose.

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