Your Questions, Answered — Keeping Your Paint Booth Clean

Excel workstation

Q: “I have two GFS automotive paint booths that I need to clean. What do you recommend to use as a solvent for breaking down the overspray on the walls, or should I just scrape them only and then powerwash? Also what booth coating do you recommend applying afterward?”

A. Here are some steps you can take to assist in breaking down overspray on booth walls:

  • Powerwash with warm water, soap, and a stiff broom brush OR plastic scraper.
  • OR sand walls with 120 grit sandpaper, and then maybe 240 grit.
  • Sweep or vacuum floor to remove excess dirt. (If using a vacuum, make sure that it is safe to use in hazardous locations). The walls will then have to be repainted.
  • If using a solvent, wax and grease remover will help break down overspray without damaging the finish. If you are in California or Canada, the wax and grease remover is water-based and will not help. Another technicians said he hasn’t found a good solvent. (When using a solvent, the ventilation system MUST be in operation, and the water will need to be disposed of in a separator system.)

Regarding coating the inside of the booth walls for easier cleaning, our technicians recommend the following types of booth coating:

  • Clear washable booth coating from 3M and several other vendors
  • New 3M Dirt Trap Protection System works well but can be somewhat expensive depending on the quantity required, and does require time and patience to apply
  • Plastic film by Haldon or RBL 
  • Original “Booth Slime” works well but it does have a usable service life of approximately 90 days before needing to be cleaned off and re-applied. This can be removed the same way you wash the booth.

When it comes to cleaning curtain walls, such as those typically used in workstations or closed-top open-front (CTOF) booths, once the curtains are coated with overspray, it is nearly impossible to remove. Curtain wall manufacturer Goff’s does make a coating to protect them, but it must be applied at the beginning before any spraying is done.

Q. “The company I work for is moving to a new facility. We are a woodworking business and have a dedicated spray room with 2 open faced booths installed in it. Rather than building a new room with open face booths for spraying, would it be easier to use an enclosed automotive-style booth?”

A. In terms of what will provide the cleanest environment, a fully-enclosed and pressurized paint booth is the best choice. These will have filtration systems in place to minimize contamination from outside sources, and to draw overspray and airborne contaminants away from the work area and contain them safely in the exhaust filters. Automotive-style paint booths do offer the advantage of being fully-enclosed by default, but they tend to come in set ‘standard’ sizes suitable for painting vehicles. If you are painting something significantly smaller, the airflow in the booth could be adversely affected and not provide the best environment for your coating needs.

GFS Industrial Paint Booth

GFS fully-enclosed industrial-style paint booth

Perhaps a more suitable option would be industrial paint booths that use an open-face design and add doors to produce a fully-enclosed environment. These types of booths are typically available in a wide variety of sizes. For example, GFS industrial open face booths are constructed using a modular panel system, so virtually any size can easily be created to suit the needs of each finishing operation.

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