If you're planning to restore a car or piece of furniture, building your own home paint booth is tempting. There are countless safety issues to consider, however, before the hammering starts. Simple ventilation oversights can lead to fatal consequences. Therefore, don't rule out pre-manufactured and rental paint booths as alternatives to building a homemade booth.
Purchase, Rent or Build?
Price is the driving force behind deciding on a homemade paint booth. For around $200 in materials, anyone with some basic construction skills can create a paint booth. Price comparisons often keep hobbyists from exploring other options and considerations.
Inexpensive, prefab paint booths are available. For a home unit, either used or new, expect to pay anywhere between $2,000 to more than $20,000 for these booths. Auto body repair shops can easily spend $100,000 for a quality paint booth. For the amateur, however, around $5,000 will buy a safe, backyard paint booth.
Safety is the main problem with homemade paint booths. While $5,000 is far above the cost of a homemade unit, investing in a manufactured paint booth brings some safety guarantees. These booths must meet governmental safety requirements. Whether your project is a fire truck or model plane, remember that projects worked on in paint booths use combustible materials. The smallest spark can set off a deadly explosion.
Cross-ventilation when working with paint is vital. Newly manufactured paint booths come with the latest fume exhaust and ventilation technology available. Where to position exhaust fans and air intake leaves many backyard booth builders scratching their heads. Some may leave a garage door cracked or use a window with a fan. The potential for an explosion or fire is always there, especially when relying on a DIY paint booth.
State and local laws should also be considered with homemade paint booths. Fines for releasing toxic fumes into the air can be staggering. Prefab booths have the advantage of lighting and fans which are explosion-proof and spark-proof. The smallest details must not be ignored when building a booth. Nearby furnaces and water heaters with pilot lights, for example, could easily lead to combustion.
For obvious reasons, electrical wiring must be spark-proof. This presents a problem for homemade booths with lighting. A professional electrician should be consulted when wiring a homemade paint booth. This is necessary, not only for safety reasons, but for local inspections.
Constructing a Home Paint Booth
Dangers aside, many people build paint booths for private use. On the website secondchancegarage.com, car restorer Bill McKenna gives instructions on constructing a paint booth measuring 19 feet long, 15 feet wide and 8 feet high. The instructions are based on a booth he built in his garage.
Building a paint booth is a dangerous project. Even those who have built successful paint booths, warn against a DIY paint booth. The smallest error or oversight can lead to catastrophic results. Regardless of the money saved, anyone considering a homemade paint booth should research the safety measures thoroughly and seek advice from professionals in the auto body repair business.
Jennifer Marlowe is a seasoned journalist with experience since 1994. As a former reporter and columnist, she has written for a variety of publications including "The Cleveland Plain Dealer," "Sew Simple Magazine," "Northern Ohio Live," "Ohio Game & Fish" and "The Country's Best Log Homes." Marlowe holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from the University of Akron.