How important is a spray booth?

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Forum topic by stefang posted 11-09-2014 09:45 AM 2751 views 0 times favorited 38 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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15881 posts in 3362 days

11-09-2014 09:45 AM

I just bought an Earlex HV5500 spray station. There is a lot of helpful info on this unit in the LJ reviews and also some on this forum, but one question that has been nagging me is whether or not I will need some kind of spray booth with an extraction fan, etc. I have seen these booths in various magazines and on the net. They are usually made from some cardboard boxes and put together with hook and loop tape. Simple and cheap. My concern is more about the need to have a window open in the winter as most sprays don’t work well with cold temperatures. I do have a space available in the loft of my shop with a conveniently sized and placed window where I could spray small stuff like the projects I normally do, and the loft is insulated and heated, but I’m worried if that open window at freezing temperatures will be an issue. Another point is that small things like boxes, etc. I would rather just do the spraying downstairs in my shop. It would be easy enough to make a mini spray booth from cardboard for that, but do I really need an extraction fan for something that will be sprayed for just a minute or so?

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

38 replies so far

View emart's profile


445 posts in 2656 days

#1 posted 11-09-2014 10:36 AM

The thing to remember is all the fumes you inhale stay with you forever. Once those chemicals enter your lungs they do not leave. Will one use hurt you? Not really but it will over time. An extraction fan would be best in my opinion

-- tools are only as good as the hands that hold them

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3362 days

#2 posted 11-09-2014 12:09 PM

Thanks for your replay emart. I will be wearing a fume rated face mask whenever I spray, so I hoped that would be good enough for those small jobs. Maybe not. In the end I might find it best to just set up the booth in my loft with a filtered fan in front of the window. I will probably be spraying mostly water based finishes and perhaps some shellac on occasion.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

10544 posts in 3456 days

#3 posted 11-09-2014 12:19 PM

I would think that a small, shop made disposable booth(?) to set on the bench, would suffice. The booth will contain most of the over spray, if any, and a mask will protect your lungs and glasses.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View Roger's profile


20929 posts in 2832 days

#4 posted 11-09-2014 01:39 PM

Definitely get some sort of exhaust fan, even if you’re using a breathing apparatus. just my .02

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed.

View distrbd's profile


2252 posts in 2474 days

#5 posted 11-09-2014 02:44 PM

Stefang,I asked the same question on another woodworking site,the best solution for a portable or stowable booth came from a member (Marty from Kingston ,Ontario)who has been using his booth for while and highly recommends it,other members find that a furnace fan, the type with a squirrel cage fan, to work great.I’m planing to build a smaller version of it in my small shop,
,here’s a few pics:

-- Ken from Ontario, Canada

View a1Jim's profile


117127 posts in 3605 days

#6 posted 11-09-2014 03:33 PM

I think it makes a difference what kind of material your shooting whether its oil base material or not and how big of projects you spraying. It could be an even bigger problem using a set up like Ken shows if your shooting a flammable material and use a fan that is not rated as explosion proof. I shoot some good size projects with out a booth but still have to resort to opening my shop door to let the fumes out for a short time. So if you stick with some kind of fan set up an use water base material you might have less heat loss and less worry about using an expensive explosion proof fans.
Enjoy your new spray station .

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4179 posts in 3192 days

#7 posted 11-09-2014 04:30 PM

This has got to be one of those things that hinge on the amount of exposure and the nature of the fumes. I know absolutely nothing about this topic, but one axiom undoubtedly applies:

Everything in life is dose related, the dose being a function of the concentration of the agent, and the time of exposure to the agent.

The other axiom is about humans:

We are all different, and become more different with age.

For some people, a minute exposure to certain agents will kill them, and not affect the next person at all.

Other than that, I am just reading along…........(-:

Must be in my gothic mood….......(-:

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3362 days

#8 posted 11-09-2014 04:32 PM

Roger I will be taking your advice with the fan

Ken Thanks, I doubt I will need anything that extensive, but it looks like a really good setup.

Jim Thanks. I am not planning on spraying anything but waterborne finishes mainly for the very reason you mention, which is the need for an explosion proof fan for oil based finishes. I definitely prefer oil based finishes for brushing since they level out nicely, but I understand that quite good results can be gotten with the Earlex with WB finishes.

Jim Bertelson
I think it wise to go with the safest bet as I already have more than enough ailments (even collectors don’t want a lot of them).

I have pretty much realized now that a booth with extraction will be what I need and I do have a pretty good dedicated space in my shop/garage loft with a fan in front to the window up there. Should be great and the finished pieces can dry without interrupting my woodworking downstairs.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View BenhamDesign's profile


142 posts in 1448 days

#9 posted 11-09-2014 04:36 PM

If you are spraying small projects it is not so critical, but large pieces I would use a good fan. The fan serves 2 purposes. One to get rid of the fumes and two, is to create an air current to draw the over spray away from the piece. When no fan is used the over spray will drift around dying before landing on your project creating a rough surface, causing more sanding between coats.

To keep the cold air directly off the project you can set up your booth on the opposite side from the intake window so the cold air has time to mix with the warm air. once you think most of the dangerous vapors are out of the room close the window so it can warm back up. Usually even large pieces of furniture only take me a few minute to spray so I can get in and out before the temp drops to far.

-- What I do in and out of the shop at

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3362 days

#10 posted 11-09-2014 04:45 PM

BD Not sure what you mean here. I was thinking of having a window open with the fan in front of the window (with a filter in front of it to catch the overspray) and then the booth behind the fan with a hole about the size of the fan in it. Are you saying that there should be another window open to pull fresh air in?

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View a1Jim's profile


117127 posts in 3605 days

#11 posted 11-09-2014 04:53 PM

Mike this might explain how different types of spray booths work.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View firefighterontheside's profile


18351 posts in 1884 days

#12 posted 11-09-2014 05:01 PM

To get airflow that is going to transport fumes and overspray out the window, you will need another window open somewhere. You can place a filter in front of your fan that blows out the window. This way fresh air is filling you spray area. For a large project I made an actual booth in my garage. I was spraying oil based paint. For smaller jobs I set up at the edge of my garage with the door open and have a fan blowing out behind me with a window open behind the fan. Earlex will say you can just spray inside your house and have little overspray, but when spraying small things, there’s a lot of overspray. By the way I have the 5500 and love it.

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3362 days

#13 posted 11-09-2014 05:29 PM

Thanks Jim, that link pretty well answered my question. With my tiny projects I think my setup should be pretty straight forward and I’m sure the one window will work fine.

One of the main reasons I bought the Earlex was to refresh some of our white furniture. We bought a very nice round pedestal table and four chairs for our kitchen a few years ago and it turned out that while the build quality is excellent the finish is not, and so I want to repaint that and the tops on some waist high cabinets and other pieces we have in our living room and entry. That work will have to be done in the garage next summer as it’s way to large and heavy to drag upstairs into my loft. It should be interesting to try and find suitable finishes for the sprayer as they sell only Norwegian and European brands here, so I can’t benefit from LJ members advice on good brands. But I feel quite lucky to get all the info that is available on spray.

Bill Thanks. I do have a another window which is at the other end of the loft directly opposite the exhaust window with no obstructions, so it wouldn’t be a problem to open it, but not for long on those really cold winter days. Why did I leave California?

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View FancyShoes's profile


550 posts in 1392 days

#14 posted 11-09-2014 05:34 PM

My uncle has a old attic fan he wants to get off his house, it is about 6 sqft. I think I will set that up in a shop once I get settled in somewhere.

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3362 days

#15 posted 11-09-2014 05:38 PM

You may come to regret hauling something that big around, but it sure sounds like it would do the job.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

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