Thinking about painting my next project car, and came across a YouTube video where the OP built a makeshift booth in what appeared to be his garage.

Fast forwarding to later videos when he brought the car into the sun, it turned out fairly well, minus some errors that looked like they were probably from his technique.

So, I turn to the experts and ask: What's involved in creating a home paint booth? Assuming small to moderate budget. Is it even necessary? Is the overall goal to eliminate dust and fumes from the area, and contain paint? From research, here's what I've seen so far:

  1. An area big enough for the vehicle and the painter to comfortably walk around the vehicle, and reach the top of the vehicle to paint. This probably goes without saying, but we have to start somewhere. In the video I saw the OP just framed an area with 2x4's and other basic lumber.

  2. A dust free area. I know from vocational school dust and car paint don't mix. In the video, the booth frame was covered with painter's plastic, and held down to the studs and floor with staples and spray adhesive, it seemed to do the job. I would probably use the automotive painter's plastic, where the paint sticks to one side.

  3. Adequate ventilation/Negative Air Pressure. I figured that ventilation would be so that fumes wouldn't build up in the booth, but I'm not sure about the Negative Air Pressure that I've seen used in a couple of videos. In the video referenced above, the OP used a negative air pressure machine, in another video I saw the OP just stuck a fan in the Window, which served the same purpose.

  4. Air filtration. I have to assume that if a fan or neg. air pressure system is blowing air out of the booth while one is working, then that air should (must?) be filtered to remove the isocyanates. The incoming air should be filtered as well to remove any potential dust, correct? How would one filter out the isocyanates from outgoing air? Is it enough to use HEPA 10 furnace filter? Somehow I don't think so. I've only seen isocyanate filters in a small size, to fit in face masks. Do they make them any bigger? If not, one would have to fashion a decent size frame to hold multiple cartridges, a big enough size to match the air flow of volume of air being pulled out of the booth.

This didn't include tools such as an air compressor, sprayer, positive pressure face mask, etc. just the booth,

1 Answer 1


You're off to a good start - research, research, research.

1.) I would add; being able to lift the car off the ground, and having movable platforms - to keep your work at a comfortable level, as much as possible. The more light you can get on the job, the better - however, it would be safer to have the fixtures outside the plastic/paint area. Just like all of those warnings about natural gas - even static electricity can cause an explosion in a diy booth. Luck is not your friend and has no business in an enclosed space, with atomized paint.

2.) Most of the dust that you will encounter while painting, is already on the surface to be painted and/or the floor beneath you, and walls around you. Often times painting outside can produce less contamination to the paint, than a diy plastic booth, just from all the "air leaks" funneling the dust into your work area. Sanding your job in the same area that you paint, can also make dirt management difficult - so making sure that your work area is just as clean as your work, is a top priority.

3.) One important job of negative pressure systems, is to get the over-spray flowing in the same direction - away from the car. Most often it's a downdraft setup, with intakes in the ceiling, and exhaust in the floor and/or along the walls. These go hand-in-hand with fresh air respirators, to ensure that your atomized pattern is the only thing hitting your work, and good clean air is all that you are breathing.

4.) Air filtration will probably be the most difficult to manage, with the possibility of becoming even more dangerous, the more you try. Outside of professional equipment designed for the job - good, clean air, that is safe for you, as well as anyone or anything that may be in the vicinity of your booth, will be the biggest job ahead of you. While sticking a fan in a window and/or taping a few furnace filters together may sound ideal, they can also be extremely dangerous, and maybe even an illegal compromise, given the location.

There is probably a lot more that can be said, and I'm sure there will be, but first and foremost - do your homework and be safe.

When I built my booth - it was an entirely independent structure, sharing only the floor, of my 30 x 40 garage. With nothing in the booth, but me, my work, my paint gun, and enough hose to circle a car twice. All lighting and air management was completely independent of one another, explosion proof, and adhered to my local codes, to the letter, and then some. And I still felt safer at my employers, in a purpose built booth, that cost tens of thousands of dollars more.

  • It's not a bad idea to hose down the area before you start working to keep the dust at bay. Commented Apr 30, 2014 at 7:25

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