Paint Booth, Gas Chamber, or Bomb…
What do you have? It would be easy to say that if you are a professional shop and you’re set-up and compliant with all the codes, this article may not apply; however, your particular city, region, or country for that matter, may not have any codes that pertain to a paint booth. On the other hand, you may have a home built paint booth that is giving you a false sense of security. What you mite have instead, is a bomb just waiting for the right set of conditions, or a gas chamber that may one day sneak up on you before you know it. You may also be looking into setting up a paint booth, either pre-made or home built. Yes, there are several places to be found on the Internet that cater to home built paint booths. Some of them have been well thought out and give very concise instructions as well as a very good data base that explains why certain things are done the way they are, and what can happen if you don’t follow some very basic rules. I do not pretend to be an expert on paint booths, but I know enough about them to pass on some basic principles that you should think about if you are so inclined to build your own set-up.
The very basic idea of a paint booth is to have an area that is free of dust and has some form of climate control that deals with temperature, lighting, humidity, etc, in which to successfully paint objects. Pretty simple task…close the garage door, seal up all the cracks so there is no chance of dirt blowing in, wash it all down, throw in some extra florescent lights, a space heater and you got a booth, right? WRONG, what you have is a gas chamber and a perfect set up for a huge explosion. Think about what your doing, atomizing paint and solvents that have a fairly low flash point to start with, (flash point is the temperature at which the chemical you are using may explode or burst into flame), then pumping it into a sealed room under pressure, via your paint gun. What have you got now? A big old pressurized container with some fairly volatile and certainly un-healthy fumes that you are smack dab in the middle of. Get the idea of the gas chamber, now here is the bomb part.
The fumes are heavier than air and they will reach the space heater, not to mention the florescent lights you have on the floor for extra lighting. Ok, so you turn on that in-expensive box fan that you put in the window to suck the fumes out, ever turned one on in the dark and notice the sparks from the brushes on the armature, explosion waiting to happen! So even if you paint with water born paints, you still have a room full of atomized paint particles floating in the air, and your inside with a respirator that may not be adequate or none at all. Keep these issues in mind if your thinking about turning that bedroom or closet into a mini paint both because you may be taking an even greater risk than your thinking about.
At the very least, you should make the investment in explosion proof electrical items that will go into your booth such a switch boxes, light fixtures, and the ventilation fan. Space heaters, either electrical or gas powered, do not belong in a booth. The few home built booths that I have had the pleasure of seeing first hand, had a heat source outside of the booth that heated the air before it was sucked into the booth through filters in the wall or door way. Do the research necessary to figure out the proper size exhaust fan that you need in order to provide an adequate air exchange for the size booth you have. Make sure you also have a fire exstinguisure located in and out of the booth.
These are just the basics. Something as simple as a static electric discharge in the wrong place could spoil your day. People make the choice to ignore some of these things on a daily basis and get away with it, but occasionally they don’t and that is what codes are meant to prevent. This is not a good time to have a “don’t ask, don’t tell” attitude. At the very least you should seek professional advice. Find out what the codes are in your local area and cover yourself as far as liability is concerned. If you really got to buck the system, at least do it as safely as possible and make sure you live to paint another day. There are also environmental issues that you need to consider as well. This is why it is a good idea to consult with someone who has experience in this area and don’t leave anything to chance.
Thank you for your very kind comments and keep the paint flowing and our jaws dropping in awe at your talented creations…Robin
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