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Do I Need a Paint Booth – A complete Guide

A common question that I am often asked is whether they need a paint booth. This question is especially common if the customer is using water based products as after all they are not flammable so why would a paint. This article will cover the regulations that apply to painting and paint booths so you can understand whether you need a paint booth.

Code Requirements for Spraying Paint and Why they help You know if You need a Paint Booth

To understand if you need a paint booth first you have to understand the regulations that govern spraying coatings. NFPA 33 (which is viewable for free online) covers regulations related to spray applications. While it is focused on fire prevention, many of the other pertinent regulations that are important such as OSHA’s requirements are not covered by NFPA 33 so they to can be important to reference but to make references easy we will refer to NFPA and its scope to help determine when you need a paint booth. According to NFPA 33 in 2016 the standards of NFPA 33 apply if the following conditions are present

  • The standard applies when the material is sprayed via airless or hydraulic atomization, compressed air atomization, electrostatic applications, other means of atomizing, fluidized bed application methods, electrostatic fluidized bed applications, and other means of fluidized applications
  • The standard applies to spray application of waterborne, water based, and water reducible materials that contain flammable or combustible liquids or that produce combustible residues or deposits
  • The standard applies to both spray applications indoors and outdoors within temporary membrane enclosures

Knowing the conditions of when the standard applies can help determine if you need a paint booth. Essentially the NFPA 33 standard applies if you are spraying a material that has any determination of flammability within an enclosed area.  Here is where the standard doesn’t apply per NFPA.

  • This standard doesn’t apply to spray applications that are done outdoors (unless in a temporary enclosure)
  • This standard shall not apply to portable paint equipment that is not used repeatedly in the same location
  • This standard shall not apply to aerosol products in containers up to 1 L capacity that are not used repeatedly in the same location
  • This standard shall not apply to non combustible materials
  • This standard shall not apply if you are using less than 1l of flammable or combustible liquid in an 8 hour period

So NFPA 33 doesn’t apply if your material is not combustible or you are not painting in the same area repeatedly or your painting outdoors (other standards will apply in this case).

Why knowing when the standards apply helps you know if you need a paint booth

If your painting application falls within NFPA 33 meaning your paint project is using a combustible material over a 1 L in the same location repeatedly indoors or in an enclosure, the standard will typically be applied.

If my Painting Falls Under NFPA 33 Do I need a Paint Booth

Within NFPA 33 there are spray rooms, spray booths, and spray areas. Spray rooms and areas are much like they sound where the painting is done in an area but not inside a true paint booth. While this is permitted there are a variety of requirements that must be met to be able to spray in an area or room and be considered in compliance with NFPA 33. Standards that are often challenging can include electrical equipment classification and ventilation standards. So while you are not necessarily required to have a paint booth for spraying under NFPA 33 if you do not have a paint booth you will have a variety of additional regulations that will have to be met. For more on rooms and using them as a paint area, you can check out this guide on if a room can be a paint booth. You can also refer to the standards within NFPA 33 to learn more about the requirements Chapter 5 and 6 of NFPA 33 give an overview of a lot of the challenges but the whole standard does apply.

Concluding thoughts on If You Need a Paint Booth

To summarize whether or not a paint booth is absolutely needed it is not necessarily always needed. For example, if your painting is under the limits mentioned or other exemptions like outside or changing areas frequently than a paint booth may not be needed. If your painting falls under NFPA 33  then the standard will apply and you will have to be able to meet them. While the regulations allow for a room to be used there are a variety of specific requirements within NFPA 33 that must be met. Additionally no matter whether you decide to create an area within compliance or install a booth that is already verified to meet code standards you still have to ensure that your local authority approves of the option you take. For most cases, the local authority is your fire marshal and most of the time a true paint booth will allow the fire marshal to easily verify that important standards are being met while if a room is decided to be used the local authority can potentially have more work in determining if everything is being done safe. So if your painting falls under NFPA 33 you do not necessarily have to have a paint booth but it can often be less costly and efficient to ensure you meet the standards. If you need help evaluating paint booth options or spray areas further let us know.

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