Before acquiring a new booth, the building to house it must be addressed. Knowing the issues that could arise means they can be planned for and managed in a sane fashion. This can give a shop owner an edge when its time to talk to a funding source

A shop owner in the eastern United States decided that it was possible to replace his existing paint booth with a new one. A local equipment dealer provided answers to a multitude of questions about the building that housed his paint shop operation, as well as a second location that became available. The right questions were asked - unfortunately, some of the answers were discouraging. While the future had just become very uncertain, a tragically expensive situation had been avoided. It's always disheartening to see bad things happen to good people, but the tragedy could have been far greater had the shop owner not spent time investigating his potential building issues.

If your shop's profits indicate that new equipment or even a new location is now possible, the first place to start is NOT "What kind of booth do I want and who am I buying it from?" The first question to be answered is "where am I putting this booth and what building features should be examined before I start buying equipment?" While it's important to know what your booth will demand of your building, it's crucial to first collect data about the building, the zoning, and local permitting codes. At that point, the specific information about the equipment is added to the mix.

The questions are common to those who sell or install the equipment. The painter or bodyman stepping out on his own for the first time doesn't always know which questions to ask - the goal of this article being to change that.

The Building:

  • Before a building is leased or purchased, is it in an area that permits businesses with spray booths? Is the building sufficiently buffered by real estate so as to avoid complaints by the neighbors concerning stack emission violations and odors? If you have a building in mind, show it to the people that perform booth installations - they can tell you what you are up against and help you avoid a lot of problems.

  • The shop has enough room for a booth but is there also room for a paint mix room and approved paint storage lockers? Be aware that putting new equipment into an existing shop can eliminates any "grandfathering" a shop enjoyed with respect to building code. Budgetary numbers involved with bringing an entire shop up to current code can be startling so ask those questions before you sign a lease or buy equipment.

  • Excessive ceiling heights can be a ducting challenge (e.g. an aircraft hanger) as intake and exhaust ductwork will cover a longer span. Round spiral ductwork provides more stability over long spans than standard rectangular duct. Angles in the exhaust duct are typically limited to 45 due to paint particulates. Longer duct runs can also mean upgrading the intake and exhaust motors on the air make-up unit. The ability to overcome that excessive length of duct must come from below, not be mechanically complemented from above.

  • Be aware that a 10' separation (linear, vertical or a combination of the two) is required between your booth exhaust and any intake on your roof. Bear in mind, a permit to modify a building is not a permit to put up a stack

    Fire Suppression:

  • Fire suppression is critical to paint shop operation. At an absolute minimum, the paint booth and paint mix room will require fire suppression capability. The fire marshal is the final authority with respect to the scope and nature of the fire suppression, determining whether it will be dry chemical or water and how much of the building must be "sprinkled"


  • What kind of roof is on the building? What is it made of? How old is it? How many layers are there? Roofs on older buildings can quite possibly be multiple layers that have been added over the years. If your roof is fairly new and still under warranty, check with the roofing contractor about having the roof re-sealed after the cuts are made and curbed for the ductwork

Copyright Tara L. Munro. All Rights Reserved.

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