Paints & Coatings Resource Center

Ask the Expert Question-and-Answer Archive

by Ron Joseph

September, 2002

Building Your Own Spray Booth

Q. I have a small cabinet shop and currently finish with lacquers and oil base paints. I want to know how to build a paint booth.

A. Thanks for your question. Although a spray booth looks like a simple sheet metal enclosure with a fan and filters, there is more to it than meets the eye. In fact, a paint spraybooth serves several functions, of with one of the most important is to remove solvent vapors quickly so that their concentration does not build up to an explosive limit.

OSHA has a regulation 1910 devoted to spraybooths, and the National Fire Protection Agency has published their manual NFPA-33 on the same topic. (See

The fire and safety codes are detailed and stringent and are designed to prevent fires and explosions, while also protecting painters from inhaling harmful vapors and paint particulates. As a cabinet maker, you also want a spraybooth that has uniform airflow so that the paint particulates (overspray) won't ruin a beautiful paint job.

Having said all this, I strongly advise you against designing and fabricating your own spraybooth, because if you inadvertently fail to meet one or more of the fire and safety codes, the consequences can be serious. Moreover, if a fire or explosion were to take place, your insurance company would probably not stand by you. Instead, I suggest that you purchase an off-the-shelf spraybooth from one of the many vendors in this field. You can find them on the Internet by searching for "paint spray booth".

Finally, I'd like to share a true incident with you. In the late 1980s a job shop in Northern California burnt to the ground because the owner had been negligent with his paints, lacquer thinners and used paint filters. Unfortunately, the fire set off the neighboring company, which also burnt to the ground. The neighbor lost his entire business and was forced to go into retirement, while the owner of the job shop was sued for several $million, and had to pay out.

I hope this true story will convince you that the best approach is to simply purchase a booth from a reputable spraybooth manufacturer.

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