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Buying a New Booth


Unfortunately, Spraybakes are out of production. However, they are often resold in new or used condition. Check Craigslist and Ebay for the most recent Listings.


The following should aid you as general advice when purchasing any new equipment.


Your best value is to buy a used Spraybake and incorporate our upgrades.  Our lighting, airflow and waterwash upgrades complete Spraybakes beyond the performance of any other new booth. However, finding a used Spraybake can be difficult. Check Craigslist for the most offerings. We offer the following advice for anyone choosing a new booth.

It makes little sense to save money on a cheap booth, but spend excessive time repainting fish eyes, spotting, and buffing out dirt.  An effective booth requires clean air flow, accurate lighting for color matching, and heat to get the sprayed paint to adhere and bake quickly. Most booth vendors offer all these features in different ways for different costs.  We've worked with nearly all major booth vendors, and have found certain features to be minimums on any booth.

Beware of buying any booth that has no local sales representative or recommended local installer.  Even if you intend to install it yourself, hire someone who installs booths to at least answer questions, layout the work and do start-up.  Nearly always some parts and panels are not shipped, or there is freight or water damage.  Booths are sold C.O.D., once they have your money and no local rep., you will likely have trouble getting what you paid for, and you might get a booth that won't meet building codes. 

Start-up of heaters has to be done by experienced professionals.  If there is no local rep., start-up problems are common and the factory will not pay you or your electrician for warranty work or troubleshooting.  

Cheap booths often cut corners, such as polyurethane plastic fan blades, illegally narrow personnel doors, unlisted lights, undersized fans, no stacking, no bulbs, 2 bulb lamps, non-tempered glass, shoddy door seals and latches, latex caulk, no filters, and no customer support or warranty.  Cheap booths have poorly fitted panels that take excessive installation time and reworking.  Weather-Rite, Bananza, and Power Flame are the premium booth heaters that can tolerate booth use and will have experienced technicians available for service.  Finally, check to see if exhaust ducting and a weather damper is included in the base price.

Hiring an experienced installer saves money and time and heads off many very expensive problems.  There are many "booth experts".  If they don't make their entire living from booths and donít have more than three years experience, be careful.  Good installers use a team of electricians and subs that can finish the work on time.  Owner assembled booths go up fast but often get bogged down for weeks or months solving code, electrical, and ducting problems. 

♦  ETL Listing:  Required by all building codes for spray booths with heaters, although you can hire a professional engineer to certify that a booth meets code. Very few booth vendors ETL List all of their booths, it's too expensive for low demand or low-end models.  Beware of off or non-branded booths advertised by body shop equipment internet vendors.  Check our ETL link to make sure that the model your interested in is specifically listed.  (Check our Vendor & Info Links page for the ETL directory.)  Even if you build the booth yourself, you'll need electricity, gas, and fire protection.  Those utilities need permits and will kick in a general building permit which can likely bring in the requirement for ETL Listing.  http://etlwhidirectory.etlsemko.com/WebClients/ITS/DLP/products.nsf/$$Search

♦  Nut and bolt assembly vs. tek screws:  Pre-punched panels for nut and bolt seldom ever fit well due to sloppy bends and hole punching.  Yes the holes are exactly 6 inches apart but the end distance varies depending on how well the fabricators push the panels all the way home in the punch and bending jigs.  Most have slop needing at least 10% of the holes drilled out.  On a tek screw (unpunched) booth the spread is 9 inches so the booth uses about 33% fewer fasteners, saving a lot of time.  Finally, no floor is flat.  With hole punch and bending slop you have to put the panels together hand tight and tighten them after the wall is up and you've fought the last few panels into place.  When you then tighten with air wrenches many of the nuts fall off, taking more time and tightening causes many panels to bow and pucker.  We have done many of both kinds, tek screw booths take about 25% less time, are more square, have fewer gaps and very little panel puckering.

♦  Heat:  Required for adhesion and paint atomization during spraying.  140 to 160 degree heat is needed for quick cure times.  There are two kinds of heat: direct and indirect fire.  Air flows directly through the flame in direct fire.  Air flows around a heat exchanger that is flame heated on the inside in an indirect fire heater. 

Indirect fire allows smooth temperature modulations, very little hot and cold spiking.  Heat exchangers are very expensive to buy and even more so to change out and they seldom last more than ten years.  Premium booths with modern digital controls now allow very smooth modulation by direct fire burners and are becoming the most common. 

There are three types of heater bake cycles, re-circulating, forced draft, and hybrid. 

♦  Re-circulating heaters get all of their air from the booth exhaust system and are the most economical as they are reheating already hot air. 

♦  Forced draft is simply a spray cycle with a higher temperature setting, usually the intake fan is put on low speed and one exhaust fan stays on.  These are the cheapest heaters to buy but the most expensive to operate since, they are constantly heating cold outside air. 

  Hybrids such as AFC heaters are not true re-circulating heaters.  They take cold outside air, heat it and then divert some of the hot air back around to the intake and heat it up again and then discharge the hot air into the booth.  The discharge air is often not fully temperature mixed.  This heater is cheap to buy but has higher maintenance costs and operating costs similar to forced draft as they always have to heat up cold outside air.  
Both forced draft and hybrid heaters discharge a lot more (40%+) hot air to the outside during bake than true re-circulating heaters that discharge only 10-15%.  Heaters are measured by their temperature rise.  We recommend a minimum 120 degree temperature rise in order to get minimum bake temperatures when its freezing cold outside.  Re-circulating bake heaters can usually do this with 750,000 BTU heaters.  Forced draft and hybrid type heaters will need one million or more BTUs as they are always heating up outside air.

The other key benefit to a heater is that you now have an intake fan to positively pressurize the booth.  Exhaust only booths always suck dirt in through the doors no matter how well they are sealed.  Negative pressure or badly balanced booths are the major cause of time lost buffing out dirt and repainting.  This will be discussed further in booth pressurization.

♦  Lighting that is accurate, non-glaring and plentiful is critical in color mixing and even coverage.  We recommend fluorescent over incandescent/halide bulbs as fluorescent bulbs are much more accurate and soft glowing for the money.  Many booth vendors advertise the number of fixtures but the cheap booths have only two bulb fixtures.  Verify the total number of bulbs they are offering.  While hips lights are effective, wall lights are needed to paint lower panels and end lights are really helpful for hoods and trunks.

Fluorescent bulbs come as either T8 or T12 sizes.  Many booth vendors offer the T8's as they are cheaper and require cheaper ballasts, they are also only 32 watts compared to the T12's at 40 watts, so that's 20% less light production.  Many vendors offer six bulb fixtures to make up for the less light which is alright except that the T8 bulbs are much less available and much more expensive in full spectrum or daylight models. 

We recommend T12 - four bulb fixtures with electronic ballasts.  Electronic ballasts are a little more expensive, but operate at 20,000 hertz rather than the standard electromagnetic or hybrid ballasts at 60 hertz.  The higher frequency eliminates the flicker, that tires your eyes and causes glare.  Also, electronic ballasts put out 10% more light, there are two types: Instant start ballasts fire at any temperature, rapid start won't start colder than 50 degrees F.  This is essential if your booth is outside, standard electromagnetic ballasts won't fire in cold weather either.  Many standard ballasts are very slow to fire the "daylight" bulbs you may want to use someday.  Electronic ballasts are worth the money.  Be specific on this point with your booth salesman and get it in writing... he may not know what you're talking about.

Fluorescent bulbs are measured by two things, Critical Rendering Index (CRI) and color temperature in degrees Kelvin (K).  The CRI number is the percentage of color accuracy of the bulb as compared to noonday sun at 100%.  This is the most important and any bulb 84 CRI (84%) or more will give excellent results.  Some bulbs go as high as a 90CRI or higher but cost more, and have a much shorter life.  The color temperature is also very important as the higher the temperature, the "cooler" or softer the glow, meaning less glare.  Good color matching requires rested, unstrained eyes.

We recommend at least 5,500K, and at least 6,500K+ to be called "daylight", that is comfortable to work under.  Beware of so called "daylight" or "full color" or "full spectrum" bulbs, you have to check the CRI and Kelvin numbers.  A good bulb may cost $4 or more but are great productivity tools.  Finally, make sure you use the same high quality bulbs in your mix room for accuracy.

♦  Booth Coatings:  Booth coatings are helpful to lighting as the satin, orange peel finish reduces glare and distributes the light, especially on galvanized booths.  We recommend the Binks booth coat as it strips off easily and can be added on as overspray occurs.  Binks also offers flame retardant paper for the booth floor.  Booth floors are a major source of dirt and need to be epoxy sealed or papered.  Wetting the floor is ineffective as the water evaporates during the spray and bake releasing dirt to the air and painted surfaces.  The painter should always wear a full hooded Tyvek suit.

♦  Booth Pressurization:  is fundamental to clean paint jobs.  Premium booths are graded by their ease and ability to maintain accurate positive pressure.  The goal is to maintain barely positive pressure.  This keeps dirt from being sucked in the doors. Remember, all doors leak, but too much positive pressure causes turbulence in the booth, spreading overspray on already painted surfaces.  .02" to .05" is ideal, that's not very much pressure and tricky to maintain.  As exhaust and intake filters load up, or different size vehicles are put in the booth, or as exhaust fan blades get coated and less efficient, or the exhaust ducting gets loaded up, the air flow is affected.  Good booths can be adjusted before each paint job to regain that positive pressure.  There are two ways to adjust air flow, dampers or fan speed controls.

Exhaust duct dampers are opened up as the exhaust gets weaker due to loaded filters and dirty fans.  This is usually done manually by a cable control with the operator watching a manometer to see the changes in booth pressure.  This is the cheapest way to do it but requires operator adjustment and electricity is wasted having the exhaust fan pushing against the partially closed damper.

Fan speed controls change the speed of the exhaust fan by adding a frequency drive to the motor.  The frequency drive is adjusted by turning a speed control knob while the operator watches a manometer to see the changes in booth pressure.  Frequency drives may cost $1,000 or more but easily pay for themselves in energy savings, accuracy, and the soft start that greatly extends motor life.  Premium booths offer a pressure transducer system that automatically adjusts booth pressure for the operator.  One vendor, Nova Verta, even offers frequency drives for both intake and exhaust providing the greatest accuracy and maximum energy savings, automatically.

Frequency drives are well worth the money.  We are retrofitting many existing forced draft booths to allow much higher (30+ degrees) bake temperatures and a way of maintaining positive booth pressure during spraying.

♦  Filters:  Never use fiberglass filters. All of them are EPA illegal. While they may meet the 98% extraction rule, none of them meet the 10 micron particle size rule.  They all allow too much overspray through, which eventually clogs exhaust ducting, slowing down airflow and causing frequent cleaning. 
The high air flow of booths causes fiberglass to break apart, so the filters don't last, and even new fiberglass filters have too much air flow restriction.  If you have a re-circulating bake cycle, tiny fiberglass shards will break off and get through the intake filters and cause fish eyes.

The cabin main intake filters should always be protected upstream by cheap pre-filters that get changed out 2 to 1 over the high quality main filters.  The main filters should be no larger than 10 micron, Viledon filters.  Viledon filters are the thickest and last the longest.  Their fibers have glue, more loft and get progressively denser, keeping larger particles from penetrating to the 10 micron final screen.  If the filter is not sticky, they are too old, or of poor quality.    

Exhaust filters are changed often, so it is important that you have a good manometer or Magnahelic gauge to judge how dirty or loaded up the filters are.  If exhaust filters are left on too long, overspray breaks off and gets pulled through the filter and will coat your exhaust duct and fan blades.  This will greatly reduce air flow and require premature and expensive booth cleaning.  Keep a good supply of exhaust filters on hand.  If they're loaded up and no spares, painters will often temporarily remove one or two to get some air flow and overspray will go directly onto the fan blades and outside.  Every shop should have a maintenance person responsible for filter changes, there are often several painters and they just won't do it reliably.

Hours of Operation: Mon-Fri 8:AM - 5:00PM (Pacific Time)
Booth & Burner Corp. PO Box 3895, Lacey, WA 98509
Phone: (360)349-7278 or 1-800-263-4289 E-mail: spraybakebooths@gmail.com