Second Chance Garage
All About Car Restoration
Second Chance Garage
All About Car Restoration


How to Build a Home Paint Booth

Working full time in the high tech industry, Bill McKenna has been restoring cars since around 1992. To read more about his restoration efforts, check out his website at www.mckennasgarage.com

Building a paint booth was fairly quick and easy after doing all the work getting to the point to need to build a paint booth. I put about 10 hours total in the booth and it should save me at least 20 hours in sanding dust out of the clear coat.

pvc pipe frame

I looked around on the net and found a couple of examples of home made paint booths. From these, I came up with a plan. I went for 1 inch PVC pipe as a frame. PVC is dirt cheap in 20 foot lengths. I spent about $50 for nine 20 foot sections and all the fittings. I didn't even bother gluing the pipe together. After I'm done with the booth I can take it apart and store it under the house for future use.

Hooks in ceiling to stabilize frame

One inch PVC is pretty flexible so I put some hooks up and tied the tubing up to prevent sags, The hooks keep the booth from moving around. I plan on using 1 mil plastic drop cloths for covering in most places. I found 10x20 foot sheets at my local hardware store for about $1.50 each. The booth is about 19'x15'x8' So two sheets on top, and one on each side will do the trick ($6.00). I am using some 6 mil clear plastic construction plastic I had laying around for the front and back. I will have a number of fans mounted in the front and rear of the booth to get air flow, so want to make sure that these areas are more robust.

frame almost completed

Almost done with the frame now, Just need to add a center beam down the middle of the booth to keep the plastic sheet from sagging. Installing the plastic sheeting on the top is a little tricky; just takes some time and trial and error. I built the booth so that I can close the garage doors, I need to be able to close the door to prevent the wind from damaging the plastic and blowing dust into the booth through the fans. Before building started, I took everything out of the area and pressure washed the floor to get as much dirt and dust out as possible. I'll mop the floor after the booth is done to get the remaining dust knocked down. For mopping I'll use a fairly soapy solution and wet mop. the soap will catch any dust on the floor and hopefully keep it locked down.

rocker guard

Shot the rocker guard, for the second time, on the wheel wells and washed the entire car with a soapy water mix, as recommended by PPG. After washing the car I covered it with a sheet of plastic to keep any dust/oil/dirt off the cleaned surfaces. When the booth is complete I'll just need to remove the plastic and final wipe with grease and wax remover.

car washed and under cover

After the frame was up, I used duct tape to hold up the plastic sheeting. The top is two 10 x 20 foot sheets of 1 mil. drop cloth plastic. I have a make shift fan support system in the back. My local paint jobber had inexpensive intake dust filters $5 each. Out output Foam arresters for $4.

fans mounted with filters

The fans/filters and rear wall are in now. I found these box fans at my local Target store for $11 each. I'm running positive pressure in the booth and sucking all air in through the dust filters on the back of these fans. With the three fans running full blast I get a pretty good breeze in the booth.

fans with foam paint arresters

Fans with foam paint arresters.

For the output I ran 3 more fans with foam paint arresters. the output fans were not as powerful as the intake fans so I had a good amount of positive pressure. I may change out one of the output fans and install another of these box fans. I find when painting clear coat the fans can't keep up sucking out the dust. Its not a huge problem but I do see some fog in the booth which I would rather not have.

SAS Pure Air 2000 filter

SAS Pure Air 2000 filter

I didn't have a fresh air system, however had a fairly powerful compressor so I bought this SAS pure air 2000 filter, and a paint hood (about $260) The filter connects to the compressor and really does a great job of filtering air before it goes into the hood. I run my hood with 3 psi of Air while spraying and have zero smell of paint in the hood. The paint gun connects to the pipe on the bottom, this is nice because I avoid having two pipes in the booth stirring up dust, and helps prevent hose drag onto fresh paint. The system has worked well except that the gun air hose was defective and had to be replaced.

SAS paint hood

SAS paint hood

This SAS paint hood was about $60. It has disposable lenses covers and is quick and easy to get on and off. It is much better in my opinion than a mask. No straps to get out of whack. The hose comes off the back so it is out of the way of the paint.

pvc paint booth door

PVC paint booth door

Since I was running positive pressure it wasn't important that I had a perfectly air tight booth. The door was just cardboard and duct tape with velcro to hold it closed. Some small cracks were around the edges but weren't enough to let paint out of the booth in quantity.

trap door to give access to compressor controls

Trap door to give access to compressor controls

I needed to have access to the compressor controls and filters etc., so made a door in the wall. I usually start the painting day off by cleaning out the water traps and filters!

Exhaust fans

Exhaust fans

Here the exhaust fans are lined up. I couldn't figure out a way to filter the center fan. Its a small fan and I'll probably replace it with another filtered box fan soon.

a few tools of the trade

A few tools of the trade

A few of the tools of the trade. I am using a Devilbiss Finishline II HVLP gun. Has been good for me. I find it is a little tricky with the PPG 2055 clear but I can manage it with fine tuning and technique. The spray bottle in the middle is used to spray an anti static mix on the booth, floor, and suit. Its 50/50 isopropyl alcohol and water. Plenty of paint filters and mixing cups, my fresh air setup, and the paint. The gallon can in the foreground is final wipe grease and wax remover. even have a timer for making sure I don't shoot before the flash times are done.

paint booth ready to go

Our paint booth is ready to go

Here is the booth ready to go. I love those 1 mil plastic drop cloths They save me countless hours and worry with stray paint dust. Its time to mask up, clean up and get to the painting.

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