an alternative, inexpensive $100 paint booth DIY build, with pics

04-14-2013, 03:41 PM
There are several DIY paint booth threads, I searched & read most of them, many good ones.
Here's an idea that might be useful for some, required fewer tools, and somewhat disposable too, come moving time ...and for around $100!

Feel free to use this or a portion of idea, for your own!

- Range fan 200 cfm, dual speed - $55 (got 30" wide, for $45 on sale)
- Furnace allergan filters (6 pack), 16x25x1" - $30 (got on sale for $20)
- 90 degree range fan vent neck - $5
- Flexible aluminum hose + clamps - $20
- Clear packing tape - $2
- Power cord - $5
- Misc. (self tap screws, light bulb, electrical tape, foam tape, elastic bands, paper clips, wire butt connectors) - approx. $10

Many paint booths are made with either wood or acrylic board, usually a bath fan and some dryer hose. Nothing wrong with that, but it got me to thinking that something different was possible;

- I wanted something that wasn't bulky to move (come moving time), but large enough to use my for air brush and spray can work indoors
- Has to be powerful enough to evacuate fumes sufficiently
- Must be inexpensive
- Must filter the intake air, before the fan, to prolong it's life, and capture paint debris for disposal & be easily changed
- Must have a large enough area to set 2-3 paint rigs inside
- Have a proper down draft air draw
- Use least complex construction methods

Okay, so with that I set down a plan, first was the fan, the bath fans I looked up were from 50 cfm to 175 cfm, and the 175 cfm fans cost were between $150 to $200
In the store I noticed the range hood fans, and looked them over. What if I turned one upside down & used that?
The least powerful one was 175 cfm, and 25" wide, for $55!

I went to see the filters next, and initially was looking at smaller ones, a single filter for the base. I then noticed two things; the allergan filters use a synthetic cotton gauze, which is "lint free" & fairy sturdy, also they typically have a metal wire mesh woven in, making even more sturdy ...the second I noticed was a 6 pack of a standard sized 25"x16"x1" on sale for only $20 (normally $30)

Next I was going to look at panel board, but with the filters in hand, I thought "Why not just use the filters as the housing?"
Being slightly higher resistance for air movement (due to their being synthetic cotton gauze), but the strong fan would make up for that. Also, with air being able to be drawn in from all sides, then there would be reduced air volume being pulled in through the open side, thus less dust entry.

So, with just a few minor items besides, which I already had at home, I began to build, and it's really pretty simple construction.

Tools needed:
- Electric drill or screwdriver
- Pliers
- Scissors and razor knife (Exacto)
- Work table

Set fan upside down & disassemble for cord attachment. I used an extension cord I had, cut off the female end & stripped wires back. *Always work safely, Always ensure a tight & sealed connection* even with butt connectors, I like to wrap with electrical tape and ensure no bare wires can become exposed. the cord was fed through an existing hole in the range hood, with a grommet and I tapped the cord up to make it thick enough to fit the opening tightly, at that point, I also screwed in beside a cable clamp, to ensure that any pull on the cord, would not tug at the connections inside. I also re-labeled the switches (simple blue jiffy marker) so that I could see them in the new upside down position!

Secondly, I taped & sealed up all the openings of the hood. To improve and maximize the suction/draw of the fan, I used clear packing tape (more air tight than duct tape) you could use brown packing tape (same thing) or more expensive red 3M construction vapor barrier tape. Being clear tape, it's harder to see in photos, but every place there was an opening, or seam, I sealed up well with tape. * Careful not to place tape to close to heat areas, like the light bulb* I installed an energy saver light bulb, bright white, but be warned, these can & will get hot also. * Always put back all safety covers * I reinstalled the safety covers, over the wires & light, and made sure the bulb wasn't touching any surfaces.

The filter base was next. Now I had initially planned to use the 25" wide range hood, which meant that a single filter would have fit beautifully, but, since the more powerful 30" fan was on sale, for less than the 25" fan, I changed plans slightly & bought it. This meant I had to make a base panel of some kind, to cover the entire fan opening. I had the box the fan came in, and it was fairly thick cardboard, so I used it, with the corners fitted tight, and the shape of the hood opening. After that was fitted flush, cut and taped down proper, I measured the filter opening (minus frame area) centered on the base panel, allowing enough room for the upper housing to sit along the back edge. I cut this opening, with a middle spar for strength & prevent any potential filter sag down toward the fan, however this is not strictly necessary, since I left the existing fan screen in place, which would prevent any collision, but I also wanted to maintain a flat working surface, which the base filter doubles as.
Next I needed to have a hold down system to brace the filter, and keep it tight to the base panel, so I cut three notches at the rear edge of the opening, to hold the elastic bands, and taped to secure & prevent any tearing. At the front edge I made three single cuts, and bent three paper clips, to clamp around the panel, and fit into cut made, then taped closed to secure & prevent any tearing. Beneath the filter (not shown in photos) I laid down a thin line of foam tape, all around the opening perimeter, so the filter frame pressed again, for an air tight seal.

Next I built the upper structure, using the filters (remember this came in a 6 pack) for the housing, and tape to hold together. I positioned the frames in such a way that they best fit together, which ended up being each facing outward, but that doesn't affect the filtering, as they are uni-directional. I used some temporary bits of masking tape to hold them, while I laid down the clear packing tape along the seams. You could use double-sided tape in between the frames probably, but I found done this way, was sufficiently strong. Once the top panel was ready to go on, I cut and taped on two small cardboard tabs, in order to properly hold the upper panel in place. Remember that the housing must fit around the perimeter of the base filter, so over lapping the top panel on top of the sides, wasn't possible, making the tabs necessary. The longer sides are probably not necessary, but this is the filters size so in they go, for me they work well providing block for any wayward overspray to the adjacent areas.

With the housing finished, I set it aside & completed the base. The range hood uses a sheet metal vent, and has multiple opening precut, to knock out & insert. For my use, the 90 degree elbow works well for two purposes; It allows the vent hose to stay tight up under the workbench, but also because of it's orientation, helps to hold the fan to the bench top. So because I was installing in the reverse direction, I cut the metal & flared the edges 90 degrees, then used self-tape screws to secure it, with the forward facing tab slid in under the opening. Once secured, I sealed up all the edges with clear tape, to ensure no air gaps. I added foam insulation tape around the perimeter of the round vent exit, so when hose clamped, would provide an air-tight seal. I also added some short bits of foam tape to work as feet on the fan base, a couple on the vent where it touches the bench top, and a couple on the back where it'll be pressed up against the wall behind, all will help prevent noise from vibration against the surfaces too.

6. With the housing in place, you can see I put some masking tape around the perimeter of the base filter, simply to help prevent against and air leak from beneath, and just tiddy things up a bit.

Observations; So far it has worked very well, the stronger fan works really well, for stronger smelling enamel & lacquer paints, the higher fan setting really helps, and no noticeable lingering paint smells permeate the room. The sixth filter I can use as a door, and set in the front, I leave the fan on low, and the I don't have to remove the parts, I leave them there enclosed for the next week to set (but with fan off after 1-2 hours of course). The light isn't super bright, because the filter shades it, but that's fine, it does a good job of lighting up underside of the model parts during painting, and I have two bright gooseneck lamps placed on each side which provide more than ample lighting.


04-15-2013, 03:29 AM
An ace solution!
I'm moving home shortly and will be building a 'paint-shop' shed in the garden specifically for smelly tasks.
Your idea is now on my design.


04-15-2013, 04:57 AM
Very nice! The only things botherin me are that their is not really a floor wor the parts to stand on. You could only paint 1 part at a time. I usually paint all the parts in the kit at the same time and sit them down on 1 side while i paint the next part on the onter side.

The oter thing is the filters sticking out at the sides :P But hey thats just me i have to have it tidy and straight!

Other than that great that your sharing this with us!!!

04-15-2013, 05:00 AM
Thanks Roy!
If your shed is in a high humidity area, the cardboard of the filters might be affected, be weaker as a result?

I forgot to mention about clean up, it turns out to be really simple also, before the next painting use, I simple use the vacuum, and lightly vacuum the inside, including base filter. No need to press hard, or damage the filter surfaces at all, just lightly drawing the vacuum nozzle end over the surfaces was enough to suck up the paint dust residue, and made it look brand new again. Very little even got on to the side & rear panels at all, the fan being strong, 99% was captured in the base filter. Out of curiosity I looked inside the hood fan, and no dust at all got inside, nor in the hose at all! Nice! :)

04-15-2013, 05:04 AM
Very nice! The only things botherin me are that their is not really a floor wor the parts to stand on. You could only paint 1 part at a time. I usually paint all the parts in the kit at the same time and sit them down on 1 side while i paint the next part on the onter side.

The oter thing is the filters sticking out at the sides :P But hey thats just me i have to have it tidy and straight!

Other than that great that your sharing this with us!!!

Thank Tom!

The sides are long simply because the filters are one size, as mentioned, they came in a 6 pack, so that's what I used ...for me it works well, being a guard for any spray can accidental overspray.

The base filter is the work surface ...notice the 1/24 scale model I placed for comparison, I've been able to sit the entire models panels inside easily at once, even on different mounts, I set the freshly painted one to the back, and spray the next, no problem, then as mentioned, they can stay inside closed up in the lint free space. I like to use foam as the base, and the parts (some glued to spurs, the main body held by a bend clothes hanger) stuck into the foam bases, they sit on the base filter well, and level.

edit: Also, you could get larger filters, they come in 30" size also, it just depends how big a work surface area you want, and the size of the fan base of course my case, it just happened that I was looking for the cheapest parts available, and this size had the 6 pack on sale, so that's the one I bought! :)

04-15-2013, 06:32 AM
Well, nice effort but it is not really inexpensive since you can buy one already made for less than 100 bucks+ it is probably more efficient than yours.. The biggest problem i see with your booth is that it doesen´t really do anything against the fumes..? You see, painting with water based paints like vallejo is not that problematic, its once you paint with 2 part urethane paints where you really need to take care of the fumes since they are higly toxic. The other thing is the fan.. Is it explosive-proofed? when flamable fumes fill the chamber, the fan might make a tiny spark and ignite the gas.. The results of that wont be pretty:tongue: just my :2cents:

04-15-2013, 06:35 AM
actually no, the fumes are drawn out very well, read first post
risk level is low too, I recommend you read through several of the better DIY booth threads, research for better understanding is key, very informative & relate the same experiences I have had, none of my previous booths ever had such an issue, and were evaluated before hand for risk

it's not designed for everyone's needs, which is fine, but it suits mine for the moment, and is for the most part disposable!
good luck!

04-15-2013, 10:23 AM
I've done research as well, and wouldn't trust a fan like that, especially with HVAC filters. Those are not paint filters. You're using a respirator too I hope?

04-15-2013, 10:59 AM
I personally went with a DIY plastic storage bins and bathroom fan

Something like this:

I won't tell you it's the best around, but for under $40, it's hard to beat. a 100 sq/ft fan is around $30 and get rid of any odor/fume I throw at it. And it's cheap, so no need of expensive filter to protect it (I still haven't replaced it after a year)

Of course it won't replace a mask/respirator. $6 storage bin, $30 fan, $3 filter and 5$ exhaust tube.

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