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FROM THE August 2008 ISSUE

How to build a spray booth

Q: I have a question regarding spray booth construction. I'd like to build my own booth, but I'm not sure about things like fan sizes, lighting, etc. Can you offer any suggestions?

- Edward Casale
via E-mail

Ken: Setting up a spray booth would seem like a fairly straightforward procedure, but there's some careful thought that should go into planning what is one of the most-important tools in your workshop.

The basic idea is to build a box with an exhaust fan that will direct dirty air and fumes away from the model (and ourselves) and out of the workshop to the outside.

The first consideration is size, and "bigger" is not necessarily "better." You want room inside the box to be able to work comfortably, but too much room means you'll need a larger fan to create a sufficient airflow through the booth.

Instead of listing a whole bunch of classroom information about CFM vs. box size vs. configuration, and a list of other things that are waaay over the heads of the boys in the T&T shop, I'm going to refer you to one of the most comprehensive articles on paint booth construction I've ever seen.

Our good friend Klaus Raddatz has compiled a wonderful Internet paper addressing all of your concerns, and he has graciously allowed us to print his Web address for our edification. It's at

Klaus offers more than you'll ever need to know about paint booths - and more than we would ever have room to print here. A big T&T thank you goes to Klaus for his generosity.

One thing we'd like to mention as a prime consideration (as Klaus does in his treatise) is fan location within the box.

There are three options: Cross-Draft, where the fan is located at the back of the box, and you're literally spraying directly into the fan; Down-Draft, where the fan is mounted on the floor beneath the piece and particles get pulled downward; and Up-Draft, where the fan is overhead.

The first two choices are a matter of personal taste; the third choice isn't really a choice at all.

Don't ever put the fan overhead. In the first place, you're fighting gravity and need additional air movement (a bigger fan) to pull the particles up and out of the box. Secondly (and I learned this the hard way), any particles, dust, or other airborne junk that's being held up against the filter when the fan is on will fall straight down -
and onto your freshly painted masterpiece - when the fan is turned off! That'll spoil your day.

And when you turn on the fan, loose junk on the blades can become dislodged, and that stuff will fall straight down into the work area. I found that out the hard way, too.


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