Often times I will be visiting a customer and they will want to know if a whole room can become a paint booth. The common way of trying to achieve this is by putting a filter grid and appropriate fan in place. While this may seem sufficient it will not be considered a paint booth under pertinent paint booth regulations but will fall under a spray area.
Pertinent Paint Booth Regulations Related to Spray Areas vs Spray Booths
When it comes to paint booth regulations two of the most important agencies include OSHA and the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA). As a general rule NFPA and specifically NFPA 33 describe fire safety regulations for spray applications. The entirety of NFPA 33 can be read free online. The primary considerations that relate to using a room as a paint booth are the definition spray area and spray booth. Under NFPA 33 each classification has unique requirements A spray area has to be enclosed with a wall that has an appropriate fire rating along with other requirements, including specific electrical classifications. Electrical exposure is of particular concern because paint fumes cannot be fully contained within a proper paint booth enclosure meaning there is an extra risk without proper electrical upgrades. To get a full understanding of electrical requirements in a spray area section 6.4 covers electrical devices in spray areas as of 2016.
In addition to NFPA, OSHA also has a variety of regulations related to paint booths and spray areas. OSHA has more of a focus on the health safety related to spray areas and paint booths. OSHA’s guidelines for paint booths can be online as well. The challenge of using a room as a paint booth is that ventilation in the room would have to be sufficient enough to eliminate any concerns with exposure limits to harmful substances. With a basic exhaust chamber or less air movement is not as effective and often will only be able to remove air from the immediate area near the filters. This limitation may prevent you from properly removing harmful substances to remain below the lower exposure limit.
Another area of concern is your insurance carrier. With a paint booth they will typically only consider the area around the paint booth to be classified as a group h location, but if you design a spray area they may deem a larger area group h and require a variety of safeties to be built as well as alter your insurance costs. This often results in a spray area having higher expenses than a true paint booth.
Finally, the local authorities involved with approving your building and painting process like the building inspector and fire marshal see a predesigned booth and know that the manufacturer has gone through all proper steps for certification. While if a spray area is implemented the local authority will have to bear more responsibility ensuring your paint area is safe and may not be as quick to provide occupancy permits.
Summary can a room become a paint booth?
Trying to turn a room into a paint booth has a lot of problems related to electrical safety as well as proper ventilation along with the overall design of the area. Due to these limitations, a big open area with an exhaust chamber cannot be guaranteed to meet all the required regulations by the manufacturer. You may be able to be considered a spray area if the other pertinent regulations are met. However, it would require you as the purchaser to ensure you meet all the proper safety regulations and to verify with the NFPA, OSHA, and potentially others that your booth met all safety standards.
In addition to considerations of safety, there are also a lot of performance benefits that you can achieve with a paint booth that are not an option in a spray area. Specifically, a paint booth can allow for a curing design that can accelerate your production. It will also better remove overspray which can help you yield a better finish. Ultimately choosing between a room as a spray area and paint booth involves a variety of safety and design considerations. If you have additional questions about spray areas and paint booths you can review the guidelines mentioned above. You should also consult with your local authority including but not limited to your insurance provider, the fire marshal, and building inspector as they will let you know more about their thoughts on a spray area vs a spray booth, additional costs between the two, and if they will grant approval.