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Paint booth or not ??

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  • Paint booth or not ??

    I’ve never done any spray painting before so I’m a complete with the whole aircraft assembly in fact.

    On other threads in here I’ve been reading about construction a temporary paint booth in my garage out of PVC pipe etc and that idea is a current front runner.

    However, is there any merit to simply dragging the machine outside onto the driveway on a calm day and spraying it ? Has anyone done this or is it a complete non-starter of an idea ? Is there a risk of overspray or spray drifting in the air ? What about pollen/dust or other contaminants?

    Thoughts appreciated.
    Nev Bailey
    Christchurch, NZ

  • #2
    I'm not sure if you can get these affordably in New Zealand, but there are inflatable paint booths. That would make it easy to store when you are not using it and you could always sell it when you are done with your project.


    • Nev
      Nev commented
      Editing a comment
      That is certainly the business !

  • #3
    IMO a paint booth is very much worth while. Without one you’ll end up with bugs and other contaminants in the paint.
    Scratch Built 4-place Bearhawk. Continental IO-360, 88” C203 McCauley prop.


    • Pbruce
      Pbruce commented
      Editing a comment
      Having never painted, I’m wondering how an inflatable booth is better than one made inside the shop out of poly. Not arguing since I don’t know anything about painting. Just gathering perspective and info.

  • #4
    It depends on how picky you are with the finish color coats on your plane Nev. If you can live with a little debris and roughness - then spraying outside on a calm day is OK. If you will not be happy unless you have a close to perfect finish - then a paint booth is required.

    As we say here - you can have a 5 foot paint job or a 50 foot paint job. Meaning it looks good from 50 ft. Mark


    • #5
      I also am starting to plan this. I live in a windy with a lot of temperature variation and have a canopy of trees everywhere above me so it has to be inside.

      It seems like it shouldn’t be too hard to run a “clothesline” perimeter just below the 8’ ceiling of my garage. Then I could take clear poly which is 8’6” in height, folding the top 2” over the clothesline, securing with tape. The floor would be a strip of the same poly taped onto the walls where they bend from vertical to horizontal, as they meet the floor. I plan to cut an air intake hatch and tape a filter box (cardboard), with an induction fan in it and run an exhaust hose out under the garage door onto my oil-stained driveway. Hoping for a 5-7 foot job, using Stewart’s to avoid unpopularity in my own home.

      Advantages: cheap, quick, dimensions and position as required (diagonal for example), clear sides allow light in. Could even do it in a friend’s hangar with safety (his plane outside while spraying). Disadvantages: not sealed at the top, so might not work in heavy dust. Fragile, especially in a breeze (I’ll be indoors), probably needs two people to construct. Hard to clean any residue or dust off the walls, but easy to replace dirty panels . Almost certainly it gets a new floor before every use at a cost of 5-10 bucks per.

      I imagine most garage builders do this, but I’m new. Maybe it doesn’t really work? Perhaps it turns out to be a big pain, or other issue I haven’t thought of. Comments?


      • Ed.Meyer
        Ed.Meyer commented
        Editing a comment
        I like the finish I got with Stewart’s, but be aware that the technique for spaying it is different than petroleum based paints. Also, the overspray adheres the everything. It is slower drying so it it sticks rather than being overspray dust that is easy to sweep up. I sprayed in a fully enclosed shop without a booth.

      • Pbruce
        Pbruce commented
        Editing a comment
        A friend recommended that since I’ve never spray painted (except house interiors with airless sprayers) or covered planes (except models with silk, tissue, monocote, and coverite) that I should go with Stewarts. Im highly inclined toward this route since learning it does not involve un-learning anything else anyway, and I REALLY want to avoid the stink of volatile chemicals in my attached garage. Is this sound logic? Am I missing something fundamental about “old style” coverings I should reconsider?

    • #6
      I have made a few "paint booths'" and much more numerous sanding/grinding "booths" or enclosures. The sanding/grinding were usually very successful. The couple of paint booths were ineffective. It is easier to keep bad stuff in, than keep bad stuff out.

      I have made a 10X10 paint booth for small parts, but quality is not visible on those parts. I am not sure what I will do for the wings. I have a couple of friends planning on buying the new style inflateable paint booths. I might end up buying one myself. Other than that I would tend towards open air painting, and dealing with bad imperfections one at a time.


      • #7
        It seems like it shouldn’t be too hard to run a “clothesline” perimeter just below the 8’ ceiling of my garage.
        I like this idea, this could work well using some screw-in hooks. I’ve lined the ceiling and walls with ply.
        I might even be able to tape a sheet plastic “ceiling” in place. I can leave the clothesline in place once the fuselage is done, and attach new sides and floor when I’m ready to paint the wings.
        Nev Bailey
        Christchurch, NZ


        • #8
          I did my priming outside 1). because primer is so "dusty" and leaves residue on EVERYTHING, and 2). because primer needs to be lightly sanded before laying down the top coat, so it's ok if a few bugs or dirt get into the primer. I just sanded those out. I demonstrate some of my painting steps here:

          (If painting aluminum, DO NOT skip the etching step or else primer and paint will just peel off later)

          I did my top coat in the garage. For me, it was important to establish lengthwise cross flow ventilation. I was able to source fresh air at the back of the garage that was forced in with fans to another set of exit fans under the garage door. I confirmed that air was moving at a moderate speed across the piece being painted so that when the trigger on the gun was released I could see slight cloud moving towards the exit fans.

          Finally, another important consideration is good lighting. I bought several cheap LED shop light from Harbor Freight that I mounted horizontally and at chest level around the subject. It doesn't get mentioned much, but good lighting will produce better results.

          Screen Shot 2021-01-08 at 8.22.32 AM.png

          Rob Caldwell
          Davidson, North Carolina
          EAA Chapter 309
          BH Model B Quick Build Kit Serial # 11B-24B / 25B
          Build Log:
          YouTube Channel:


          • #9
            It’s an interesting dilemma for me. I have a third-hand paint booth made of 2x2s, 10ft high, 10ft wide 20ft long and lined with visqueen. It’s already been used to paint a 4place BH and a Patrol. I made an exhaust fan for the booth years ago and it moves quite a bit of air. Make-up air comes from outside and on a good day it’s only in the 20s here in Alaska. So I plan on using the booth but will have to wait months for it to warm up outside before I can paint. A heated paint booth would be a real luxury!


            • #10
              Those inflatable paint booths are great, but expensive. Consider a wedding tent. Got a 20x10 for $60 on EBAY. Much easier than 2x4s and visquene to set up. I covered the garage floor under it with a tarp and taped everything so that the only air entering comes through 3 box fans with furnace filters and leaves through another 3 fans. Including fans and lights total expense was $300 and works well. Another idea is to see if there are any auto painters with nice spray booths that would rent out to you on weekends. I had a friend that painted his plane that way for a reasonable expense.


              • #11
                No matter what anyone says that building a BH takes 10's of thousands of dollars and takes thousands of hours. The cost of the UV coatings and paint is expensive no matter if it is sprayed in the back yard or a booth. The cost of a booth is a minor cost if allows a person to do a quality paint finish then it is worth the small investment. A good paint job reflects the quality of the work and adds value. A booth can be built cheap with simple materials. The advantage of the booth is that it keeps bugs and dust away from the paint.

                We built a booth about 10 ft x 20ft x 8 ft high with 2 x 4's and 1x4's covered with 6 mill poly. Made a couple simple large 1 x4 wood frame doors covered with cardboard from appliance boxes for light & cheap. We put a row of furnace filters across the door end and had and exhaust fan box in the opposite end. The fan box was roughly 2' x 2' x 4 ft that was about 2/3rds in the booth and 1/3 projecting through the wall. We ducted the exhaust out the back door. The exhaust fan was an old furnace fan that worked great. The end, sides & topside in the both were open so we could put dbl layers of large fiberglass furnace filters on all sides. As the outside filters fouled up we tossed them. We put new filters on so the filter that was on the inside becomes the outside filter. The filters on the exhaust stopped us from exhausting sticky foul coloured air out & prevent fouling the fan and fan motor up. The air flow is similar to a down flow in that the air comes in at the top of the far wall and is drawn down & out at floor level. The air change is a controlled cross flow & the furnace fan does a quick air change without affecting the spraying of the paint. We painted the wings, tail feathers, and all the pieces in the booth. We wet the floor before started to paint and wiped everything down with isopropyl alcohol just before we sprayed. The paint came out as smooth as any automotive finish. I have painted in a garage without proper ventilation and it was terrible health wise & bug wise. It seems every bug wants to kamikaze the paint. I don't have a picture of a booth but the one that was built it was similar to the one this fellow built to paint his hot rod. This link will jump you to where he builds his booth. Just scan through the page and the following pages. Could consider a portable garage as a booth if no space is available for a booth.


                Read all you can on the safety steps required to protect yourself when using paint products. The urethane & acrylic enamels use isocynate based hardners that are extremely toxic and may really hurt a person if they don't use th right gear and take the appropriate safety measures.

                Here are some photos of the airplane but they don't do justice to the gloss or intensity of the colours.
                Attached Files
                Last edited by Glenn Patterson; 01-08-2021, 07:16 PM.


                • Bcone1381
                  Bcone1381 commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Hey Glenn;

                  I've been wondering how your Bearhawk turned out. Will you do a write up for us on it and post in "Completed Flying Bearhawks: for us?

                • Ray Strickland
                  Ray Strickland commented
                  Editing a comment
                  I built a booth much the same way as you: 2”x3” stud frame covered with clear plastic. Lights on top and all around (really can’t get too much light.) Filtered air in; filtered air out; three common box fans mounted in one wall for exhaust. 24’x14’ in size. One end attached with large hinges and removable pins for moving big pieces in and out. Std size door for walking in and out. Stewarts paint.

              • #12
                I guess a lot depends on how much space you have and the permanence of your paint booth. If you have the luxury of a standalone paint booth obviously that is the best choice. Everything less than that gets a lot more complicated. I will check out my friends inflatable after he buys it.

                My paint "booth" for small parts is a 10X10 canopy from Walmart and blue tarp sides. Its' purpose is to keep from getting overspray on the rest of the shop, not to make a beautiful paint job. I am just using it for parts. I may just put an extension on one corner for the wings. For the wings I will rig up a fan, duct, and filter to exhaust the air outside. I am pretty realistic on what I expect from the paint job. Mostly bright yellow for visibility. Light weight is more important than beauty for me. Hopefully I will be able to convince onlookers that orange peel is actually a feature.


                • #13
                  Hi Brook,
                  Good to see you are still at it.

                  I will get the camera out and take some good photos and do a write up We have been flying for a while and have about 60 hours on it. The panel is basic with a Dynon D180 for EFIS/EMS, Garmin GTR 200 radio and a transponder. The power plant is a Continental IO-360 210hp with an 82" CS prop. It flies great, handles nice and takes off in a very short run. It had one low wing that was fixed with a small trim tab out at the end of the left aileron. That was an easier adjustment than putting washers under the hinges. Everything was lined up clean with the gap seals and did not want to use washers that might affect the clearances. That was all we had to do to get it to fly straight & level. In the summer it sits on 26" tires and flies off a grass field that is on the rough side. Right now it is on skis on the ice next to the flying club.

                  I will check out other write ups to get some examples and try to get it done in the next month or two.


                  • #14
                    Couple things on paint booth construction. The suggestion of running clothesline around the perimeter to hang plastic from will work, but depending on how picky you are on appearance of your ceiling, it's easier and more effective to wrap the ends of the plastic you want to hang around some 2x2 or 2x4 and screw the boards to the ceiling letting the plastic drape to the floor.

                    For ventilation and filtration: Run lots of filters for intake air, I used to use 8 of the roughly 2' x 2' HVAC filters framed into the end wall of my temp booth with the plastic fairly well sealed against the framework. Then run 3 or 4 box fans pulling air OUT of the booth, and you can run double filters on them as well if you want to keep fumes from filling the neighborhood.

                    I do not recommend fans for the intake, they will more likely stir up any dust you missed in cleaning prior to spraying and that dust will inevitably end up in your paint in a highly visible location, (thanks Murphy...) Also, wet down the floor of your booth before you spray to help keep any errant dust and debris from becoming airborne.
                    Patrol plans #398


                    • #15

                      I do not recommend fans for the intake, they will more likely stir up any dust you missed in cleaning prior to spraying and that dust will inevitably end up in your paint in a highly visible location, (thanks Murphy...) Also, wet down the floor of your booth before you spray to help keep any errant dust and debris from becoming airborne.[/QUOTE]

                      Using fans for intake insures that all the air coming in is filtered. With just exhaust fans you will have a slight negative pressure in the booth and any unsealed area will be allowing unfiltered air in. Before spraying I spray down the interior of the booth and vacuum out the accumulated water.