Do you have a high-quality paint booth, but are puzzled why you’re still finding dust/dirt in your paint job? The answer is usually simpler than you’d think.
You may think there’s something wrong with your booth. Although this may be true in some instances, more often than not it’s typically not the case. Most often, the reason for a contaminated paint job is a dirty or poorly maintained booth. Proper cleanup and maintenance is crucial for creating flawless finishes, and also provides a safe and efficient working environment for your painters.
We’ve compiled a handful of tried-and-true maintenance tips from our experts in the field to help you keep your paint booth clean and operating efficiently. Keep in mind that while these tips generally apply to any kind of paint booth, it’s crucial that you check the maintenance recommendations outlined by the manufacturer of your booth to ensure that you’re following their guidelines, first and foremost.
Here are our top five tips for keeping a clean booth:
1. Keep dust out!
The simplest and most important way to prevent dust from entering your booth is to keep all booth doors CLOSED. When you do open the doors to bring in the object that you are spraying, be sure that the booth is ON and running in order to draw any airborne contaminants into the exhaust filters.
Other tips for keeping dust out of the booth include:
- Don’t leave any unnecessary items in the booth.
- Never sand in the booth.
- Caulk ceiling frames, wall joints, fire sprinkler openings and compressed air pipe openings.
- Seal entrance and exit doors, access doors and concrete floors.
- Limit traffic in and out of booth.
- Never spray without lint-free painter’s suit and head cover.
- Store painter’s suit in a clean area.
- Properly prep the object you’re painting prior to it entering the booth.
2. Filters – What to use and when to replace
When it comes to filters for your booth, you definitely get what you pay for. You may be tempted to purchase a lesser-grade filter to save money, but using cheap or incorrect filters is an open invitation for paint finish problems. A high-quality air filter, on the other hand, will provide high efficiency, and the correct diffusion to prevent inconsistent airflow and turbulence. Your best bet is to use the filters recommended by the manufacturer of your paint booth.
It’s also important to routinely replace the filters. A plugged filter throws off the balance of the booth and allows buildup of overspray on some exhaust fans. Filters should be changed when the final resistance, as specified by the manufacturer of the booth, has been reached. You can determine this resistance by checking the U-tube, inclined-tube or gauge-type manometers on your booth and referencing your operator manual. In addition, your local paint booth distributor can also advise you on a filter change schedule so that you can avoid unforeseen downtime and keep your equipment operating at peak performance.
3. Clean up the cabin
Regardless of how well your booth is engineered, it’s likely that eventually SOME overspray could collect on your spray booth walls, floor and other surfaces. Any overspray or dust in the booth can become airborne and land on your paint job. To prevent this from happening, your booth surfaces must be regularly cleaned. There are several methods for cleaning. It’s important to be sure that the equipment you use is suitable for the location and the material being cleaned.
Some shops use vacuums to clean a booth of stray dust and fibers, but there is reason to be cautious about doing so. Because you are vacuuming up flammable and combustible materials, sparks and heat can be generated by the motor in the vacuum, and ignite the material collected. If you decide to use a vacuum, make sure that it is approved for use in hazardous locations.
We recommend using a sponge mop and solvent-based materials to break down the paint on the booth floor and walls. DO NOT under any circumstances use a cotton mop, as it will leave fibers behind. The ventilation system MUST be in operation when using solvent-based materials. Booth walls, floor and the pit can also be pressure washed for a deeper clean.
4. Clean up the ‘stuff’ in the cabin
The interior surfaces of the spray booth are not the only places you need to look for paint overspray. Overspray will also collect on the paint gun and air hose. This caked-on paint can flake off and end up on the painted surface. Over time, air hoses may also begin to flake on the inside. Make sure to regularly clean air hoses and paint guns, and replace when necessary.
Another place to keep an eye on for paint buildup is the exhaust. Since these areas are not visible unless you purposefully take the time to examine them, they typically fall into the ‘out of sight, out of mind’ trap. However, old paint deposits can build up in the exhaust plenum, duct and fan, reducing the operating efficiency of the booth. It’s important to make sure that when you clean your booth, you at least inspect the entire system to check for potential problems before they can occur.
5. Watch out for moisture
Dust, dirt and paint overspray aren’t your only enemies when it comes to a clean booth and properly operating equipment. Moisture can also be an issue. Spray guns, gun washers and the spray booth itself all require air. Because of this, compressed air systems are an integral part of the paint application process. Unfortunately, compressed air systems produce moisture. This moisture condenses and causes damage to tools and imperfections in your paint job. There are many alternatives out there for reducing and eliminating moisture in your compressed air system, including refrigerant dryers. Make sure you choose a system that performs well and is reliable, and make sure that it is maintained regularly to ensure optimum results.
The list could go on and on, but those 5 tips should give you a positive mindset when approaching the issue of spray booth maintenance and contamination control. If you have any additional ‘best practices’ that you would like to share, please don’t hesitate to comment on this post! We’d love to hear more beneficial advice from painters and shop managers who’ve won the battle against dirty paint booths!