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Thread: Setting up a paint booth

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    Default Setting up a paint booth

    I did a search and didn't see anything covering this here. If this has been discussed, please let me know where.

    I have been thinking for some time now about trying to finish our own frames. The work we have done at Coat has been great, and no complaints there, but I feel offering a complete build in house would open up some creative doors for us.

    So this question goes out to the painters,
    What would you consider an adequate set up for painting bike frames? Square footage, isolation from dust, ventilation, compressor, gun, whatever it takes to get a booth going. Oh, and cost estimates would be informative too.

    I'm thinking about really looking into this in the next year to two years, and figure it may take another year until I feel comfortable finishing customer bikes. I have no interest in painting bikes for anyone else.

    Thanks.

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    Default Re: Setting up a paint booth

    Matt,

    Your question is not a simple one to answer, as there is sooo much involved in creating a booth correctly. The real crux for you is this...will your booth be subject to the local building code and permit process, annual inspection by both fire department and insurance ISO adjusters, and located in a commercial area zoned for manufacturing? If you fall into any of these conditions, the process, construction, inspection process and cost are significant but not prohibitive.

    At the very least, I'll answer some of your preference queries and then describe the qualifying factors for many of the OSHA/ISO requirements.

    The booth size is determined by your needs, but I've found a 10 x 10 with a permanent fixture placed in the center to be the minimum I like to have to be able to fully move around the frame, rotate it in all aspects, and still have space to work on forks, bars, cranks at the same time. I use a dual stage compressor that feeds all my air needs for the shop; dual stage is important for the blast cabinet to maintain constant pressure and air feed rate for prepping frames. The compressor has multiple water trap/air filters in line to protect against air contamination, an issue that will show quickly in the paint booth.

    The booth must meet fire resistant construction standards, meaning it will be fabricated out of metal or multiple layers of fire retard drywall. The booth must be located greater than 16 inches from an exterior wall with load bearing responsibilities to protect the structural integrity of the building in case of explosion. All electrical connections must exist outside of the fume space. Lighting is typically achieved by placing all lights fixtures outside the booth, cutting windows in the booth wall, and sealing the lights behind glass with airtight rubber seals. Filtration is a two part consideration. Incoming filtered air can be passive if the combination of supply air and out going air meets the minimum cfm defined by your OSHA requirements. The incoming fresh air should be climate controlled to provide stability in the paint environment. A filter wall for paint over spray entrapment and cleaning of outgoing air, typically two times the size anticipated for the expected volume of air to be moved is a smart decision, allowing for redundancy in protection if you do not change your dirty filters as often as you should. An explosion proof fan within the plenum to create the exhaust flow in mandatory. The final consideration is fume space suppression. for the 10 x 10 area discussed, a small dry chemical suppression system with heat activated nozzle as well as an external activation switch is recommended.

    Total cost for the system as described can be kept realistic if you utilize your local resources for the research on requirements and do the work yourself. The last booth I built broke down like this...

    Permits and Inspection Fees - 275.00
    Building materials - 3500.00
    Filtration equipment (explosion proof fan, filters) - 400.00
    Water traps for booth - 300.00
    Suppression System - 1500.00 (used)
    Annual ISO hazardous environment endorsement on insurance policy - 250.00

    Associated costs include all your guns, airbrushes, hoses, consumables, compressor, personal protective equipment, and hazardous materials disposal fees for recovered paint products.

    Whew, lots of info to consider. Keep in mind, for every one guy who does it right, there are twenty folks with an electric box fan in a window spraying in a small area tarped off from the rest of the shop.

    The investment in finishing your own product is easily returned over the life of your business, the skill set is difficult to learn but very rewarding, and the outlet for creativity is unparalleled. I encourage every builder to at least experience the finishing process, as it will give you new respect for your painter each time you write him a check for another job well done :)

    If you have any questions that I can help with, feel free to call,

    rody

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    Default Re: Setting up a paint booth

    Thanks Rody,
    That is a ton of help.

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    Default Re: Setting up a paint booth

    What Rody said except I use a much smaller booth than his preference. I stand in one place and move the frame with a stick through the head tube with my left hand while spraying with my right. I find that I can put paint on faster this way (which keeps down problems like overspray) The bigger the booth the more volume of air that has to be heated up to keep the proper air flow (100 to 125 cfm if I remember right) to exhaust paint fumes. My booth is 4’ wide by 7’ tall. This keeps heating air costs down. I use a make-up air furnace to supply hot air in cold weather. It warms up outside air to bring into the building and creates positive air pressure.

    My spray booth is a Binks. It is made up of steel panels bolted together. If you find an old booth from an auto body shop, it is possible to rearrange the panels to a more suitable configuration.

    Painting frames well requires a certain touch or feel. In my opinion it is a more difficult skill than brazing or filing. However the bulk of the work in painting a frame (maybe 90%) is in preparation like sanding.

    Learn Illustrator so you can buy your own mask cutting machine. Sign companies can do this for you but it is nice to have all painting elements within your own control.

    I don’t schedule painting class on a regular basis like I do my framebuilding classes but from time to time an experienced builder comes here to learn how to paint.

    Doug Fattic
    Niles, Michigan

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    Default Re: Setting up a paint booth

    Thanks Doug. I work in the same building as Mitch Pryor and talking to him about paint and his experience with you is one of the big reasons I am interested in learning more about what it would take to make a booth work. I have illustrator skill and would definitely want to make my own masks.

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    Default Re: Setting up a paint booth

    Matt, I am glad you are looking into this. I too went and spent some time with Doug and that was invaluable.

    I will say this though. Rody's pricing is just getting going. I spent way more than I expected when I set up. In order to do really world class work you have to have the things you need to do it. Lot's of misc materials, tapes, abrasives, gizmos, plotters etc, etc. A lot like framebuilding it is hard to really put together a proper budget for these things but I would say whatever you come up with double it for the sake of budgetary planning.

    Also, plan for longer than a year to begin finishing customer frames. Painting theoretically is easy. The myriad of things that can go wrong is immense and it is the constant practice that teaches you what not to do or as JB told me once, being a great painter is knowing how to fix all the inevitable screwups.

    It will be rewarding. It will also be frustrating, maybe more-so than building at times. It may or may not pay off in the long run in profits, design freedom and delivery but it will take a fargin long time and realize that painting takes away from your build time too so unlike builders who only build for a living you will be working on a paint job for long time and that will eat into your build time. At some point that can become a hurdle and from a profitability POV that is why you maybe see so many framebuilder NOT painting there own frames today.
    All the best,

    David Bohm
    Bohemian Bicycles

    Facebook www.facebook.com/bohemianbicycles
    Framebuilding courses http://www.framebuildingschool.com
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    Default Re: Setting up a paint booth

    Thanks David,
    The way it looks from here is that the costs are significant, and it is out of the question at this point having never painted a bike. With that in mind, the best next step for me would be to attempt to paint a bike or two under a watchful eye and see how it goes. We'll see if I can make that happen in the coming months. The wife and I are expecting our second child in September, so life is about to get crazy again for another year.

    Thanks for the information.

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    Default Re: Setting up a paint booth

    when I started building almost everyone painted their own bikes. We also built our own forks, which I guess is why I never remember to order fork blades until the last. I really like to paint, but it just looks like another time sink that I don't need.

    I'm surprised Craig Ryan didn't chime in here, maybe he's too busy painting. He has what looks like the smallest possible paint booth that's useful for bikes, it's in his smoked out thread and blog.

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    Default Re: Setting up a paint booth

    Quote Originally Posted by EricKeller View Post
    I'm surprised Craig Ryan didn't chime in here, maybe he's too busy painting. He has what looks like the smallest possible paint booth that's useful for bikes, it's in his smoked out thread and blog.
    I think you're right Eric. But it's not the paint booth size as much as the dedicated area for prep, mixing, cleaning, and storage. If you work with a 4' commercially available booth (as I have), you can't control the air coming in. It's just shop air coming in through an open window. I keep my area really clean, condition the air as much as possible, and set my fresh air system breathing system outside and have it plumbed through the wall into my shop. My hotbox is portable and I only get it out when I need it. A lot of paint prep happens right on top of my covered surface plate, and my mixing area is on my vise workbench. If I painted much more than I do I'd have to move to a larger dedicated area. I can't envision anyone doing it in any smaller space. Rody's is danutz!

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    Default Re: Setting up a paint booth

    Thanks for that Craig,
    I'm getting the feeling that Rody's booth, rad as it is, represents the top tier of what framebuilders who paint have available. Would you mind sharing what you think would be an adequate "starter" paint booth? What would you invest in if you had an extra $2000? Blast cabinet? Bigger compressor?

    It looks like Rody spent over $6k for his booth without factoring in gun, compressor, hoses... Would you mind sharing what your booth cost (I understand if you don't, but I had to ask).
    Thanks

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    Default Re: Setting up a paint booth

    Quote Originally Posted by cardinal View Post
    Thanks for that Craig,
    I'm getting the feeling that Rody's booth, rad as it is, represents the top tier of what framebuilders who paint have available. Would you mind sharing what you think would be an adequate "starter" paint booth? What would you invest in if you had an extra $2000? Blast cabinet? Bigger compressor?

    It looks like Rody spent over $6k for his booth without factoring in gun, compressor, hoses... Would you mind sharing what your booth cost (I understand if you don't, but I had to ask).
    Thanks
    I guess it would be hard to put an order of importance in purchases, but if you budget and build over time it may be a good approach. I would find a good compressor first. That would be 2k easily if you bought new, but I found a guy who retired from Ingersoll Rand, then Chrysler, who gets them and rebuilds them in his garage as a hobby. Be careful with buying an old worn out one. Mine is like new, adequate for the work and chugs along. I don't use air tools, so it is sized more for my painting needs. When I'm painting it doesn't have to run much which is the key. I bought my booth directly from Paasche. It's 4' wide and I got the model with a built in shelf. If you don't need the shelf I'd go without it. It was under 2k and included a zillion nuts and bolts. If you hang a frame horizontally it fits, but vertical is better if you don't have a shelf to get in the way.5' wide would be better and not much more cost. I think it was under 2k by a little bit. Those two items are the biggies. A fresh air breathing sytem is the next largest expense. I started small and got the hobby air unit. It sucks, but it got me into a sytem and I think it's important in my situation to have it. You can get into a system for under 1k pretty easily. Don't forget air conditioned air to keep your compressor dry. I have a window unit for the shop. When I paint I have to open a screened window to let air in, but the make up isn't too bad.
    I think what Dave said above is pretty accurate. I would love to find a big chunk of land out in the sticks and do it like Rody.

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    Default Re: Setting up a paint booth

    I know you asked Craig, but I thought I would put my 2c in again.

    A lot of people think about the booth as the primary painting investment but that is similar to a new builders thinking that only a jig is necessary for framebuilding. I do not have quite the setup that Rody explains. Although I agree 110% with what Rody states. You are correct in saying that not a lot of frame painters have quite that arrangement. The rules differ for every local so I cannot help you with that but I will say that often we fall into a nebulous area where EPA like rules don't apply fully.

    Here is what I mean. Federally, it is permissible for a car enthusiast to paint two cars a year out in the open with no filtration a year. You would have to paint 50+ bicycles a year to match the wastes and VOC's made by that same enthusiast. The rules that apply to a paint shop pushing through 5 cars a day do not always pertain to us. What that specifically means for you, needs to be further investigated.

    As far as the booth goes many think that is the key to clean paint jobs and it helps but most of the dirt in a paint job come from the painter or the air supply. Brian Baylis painted on his back porch for years and did beautiful work. Some of the things that come to mind that are also important, maybe more so than the booth setup is a clean place to work that won't be cross contaminated by your framebuilding or other endevours (i.e. spray WD-40 in your shop and watch it F up you paint work for the next year). Safety equipment, i.e. paint suit, fresh air respirators, gloves, fire proof cabinet to store solvents etc. VERY important!

    Maybe more important that a booth is air supply (I feel a power ballad coming on) . A good compressor, a way to remove humidity in the air (very important for Oregon) filtration and proper piping. The compressor can be a great example of how costs can exceed estimate. So you have the compressor, let's say you even got the dealio of the century on Craigslist for 500 dollars. But now you have a piping, regulators, filters, fittings, air hose, electrical, noise suppression, dryers and any other tidbits. Expect to drop another 1500 on that minimum. So your 500 dollar compressor turned into 2k really fast. Lest you think that you can get away with sears rattler compressor, remember that probably more issues with paint come from the air supply than almost anything else so scrimping here is not money saved.

    Certainly you can start on a shoestring and build up to a whatever level you would like, but I would say that you really need 5k or so to get started and might end up spending 10-15k or more by the time you have a paint shop of a professional caliber.
    All the best,

    David Bohm
    Bohemian Bicycles

    Facebook www.facebook.com/bohemianbicycles
    Framebuilding courses http://www.framebuildingschool.com
    Carbon framebuilding courses http://www.carbonframebuildingschool.com

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    Default Re: Setting up a paint booth

    You know the real elephant in the room? It kills me when I look at my paint shelves, full of pint to quart sized cans in a rainbow of colors and a line of reducers for the climate range, and realize that each one of those suckers cost north of 70 bucks each for the system I choose to use.

    Ouch.

    rody

    ps...did i mention I love airbrushes too? Easy to justify just one more for that special project
    Last edited by Rody; 07-31-2011 at 12:28 PM.

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    Default Re: Setting up a paint booth

    Quote Originally Posted by Rody View Post
    You know the real elephant in the room? It kills me when I look at my paint shelves, full of pint to quart sized cans in a rainbow of colors and a line of reducers for the climate range, and realize that each one of those suckers cost north of 70 bucks each for the system I choose to use.

    Ouch.

    rody

    ps...did i mention I love airbrushes too? Easy to justify just one more for that special project
    Rody's right. The paints are astronomically expensive. You only use a small bit and then the rest goes on the shelf. You can have almost every shade of baby sh-t brown up there and of course, nobody will want those.....Mmm...if that just had a little more broccoli in it....then it would be perfect!!! so you are stuck getting another 70 dollar tin of paint.

    I actually have kind of a home brew mixing system with tints, toners and a scale to save on this part a bit but all painters have thousands tied up in colors and raw materials. Yes, Rody, I have the airbrush fetish too:)
    All the best,

    David Bohm
    Bohemian Bicycles

    Facebook www.facebook.com/bohemianbicycles
    Framebuilding courses http://www.framebuildingschool.com
    Carbon framebuilding courses http://www.carbonframebuildingschool.com

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    Default Re: Setting up a paint booth

    Quote Originally Posted by dbohemian View Post
    The rules differ for every local so I cannot help you with that but I will say that often we fall into a nebulous area where EPA like rules don't apply fully.
    I've heard this from another painter that it was described in square footage of paint sprayed. If you are under something like 25 sqft you don't have the same permitting to deal with. I've done some preliminary digging and can't confirm or deny that, but will find out details soon.

    Thanks for sharing all the information and perspectives here guys.

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