Paint Booth Code Compliance — What You Need to Know, and Why

Engineering Drawing Paint booth code complianceWhen it comes to buying and installing a paint booth in your facility, you really can’t just fire it up and start painting as soon as the last wall panel is in place. A very important, and often time-consuming, part of the purchasing and installation process of a spray booth is ensuring that your installation meets all of the safety and legal requirements that apply to your city, state, and country.

GFS makes sure that our products meet and/or exceed all the applicable codes related to the equipment, as do several other reputable manufacturers. However there are many companies out there who only meet some, not all, of the applicable codes, so it’s crucial to understand whether there will be modifications to the equipment that need to be made during the installation process in order for the finished equipment to be safe to operate.

Why all the hassle with paint booth code compliance?

On the surface, it appears to simply be extra time, hassle and money involved with acquiring permits and passing inspections. An important thing to remember is that there are very specific reasons why these regulations were put into place.

If incorrectly installed, operated and/or maintained, a spray booth could be a potentially dangerous piece of equipment. Fires can and do take place when a booth is handled carelessly and improperly. This may result in worker injuries, booth and/or building damage, and large fines. As we can see, it’s clearly important that we all abide by these regulations.

Where do I start with paint booth code compliance?

When it comes to codes and permits, requirements will depend on where you live. As Marty Powell, one of GFS’ Industrial territory sales managers, says, “Paint Booth Code compliance is a very ‘local’ thing.” The authority having jurisdiction is key. This could be the city, county or state, and many times all three.

For spray booths, local governments enforce the requirements of one of the following codes. Local governments may also have additional requirements.

International Fire Code (IFC)

  • Most commonly enforced code
  • Chapter 15 addresses requirements for Spray Areas, Spray Rooms and Spray Booths
  • References NFPA 33 Standard for Spray Application Using Flammable or Combustible Materials
  • The IFC is referenced in the International Building Code (IBC)

National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) 1 Fire Code

  • Enforced in those locals that have adopted the NFPA set of codes
  • Incorporates NFPA 33 in its entirety
In addition to codes, there are industry standards that are often enforced.  The most common is NFPA 33.

In addition to the codes and standards, we have the law.  OSHA has requirements for the design of equipment and operations involved in the spray application of flammable or combustible materials.  Like the codes, state OHSAs may have additional requirements.  OSHA recognizes that demonstrated compliance with the latest version of NFPA 33 will be accepted as meeting the requirements of OSHA.


Feeling overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information required? Here’s where the importance of your local distributor comes in. As we’ve mentioned in a previous blog post, local support is KEY when it comes to purchasing a paint booth. They are the people you will buy your booth from, and who can help you get all your permits and meet all requirements. Since they are in your area, they are experienced and knowledgeable on what it takes to get a booth installed in your shop.
If you’re ever in a position where you’re feeling confused about a particular code, or are unfamiliar with any of the rules or terminology used, remember that your local distributor is always available to help you understand these codes and how they apply to your specific operation. Assistance is just an email or phone call away!

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