Regulations for finishing operation

Concerns about building, fire and environmental laws for new shop. March 23, 2002

We are a residential custom cabinet company and are considering setting up a finishing department. Our goal is to offer a high-end custom finish. What should we expect as far as EPA regulations?

Forum Responses
Your finish and spray booth suppliers should have all the info you need to meet local, state, and federal regulations for a finish shop. You will probably also need to talk to your local zoning office. If you plan ahead, you should be able to keep everyone happy.

I agree - first contact is a good booth supplier. They should be familiar with the EPA regulations that would affect you. I think, however, that the primary concern going in is to satisfy building code/fire code issues. It can be a little dangerous to simply waltz into your local code office and say "I want to put in a spray booth". For instance, a spray booth with fire suppression installed will satisfy many code situations, but it's possible if your building does not have a sprinkler system that they will force you to install one. That can be major bucks.

Unless you're out of reach of local code jurisdiction, you will have to bring the code people in eventually, but first, try to do as much research on your own as possible. Visit other shops to see what they went through. Again, the booth supplier can/should be a tremendous help. If they are not, look to another supplier.

We are going through a similar situation and have already built our spray area. We found the building department to be very helpful in planning our booth. Another place to get info is your local fire service company. They helped us with fire suppression questions.

The issues the EPA is most concerned with are how you dispose of hazardous materials and if the products you are spraying are compliant with the law. Most manufacturers have altered their products to comply.

Our local building department was very helpful in finding out what fire rating standards our spray area needed to meet. They almost seemed surprised that we were trying to do everything legally instead of "under the radar" like most shops do. You will most likely need to pull permits for everything. We couldn't afford to be shut down after we got the operation running, so we wanted to do it right the first time.

Check out the EPA web site. If you dig through, you should be able to find your state info. Takes a while, but it's there.

Local fire code and building and planning offices don't often regulate environmental laws. Generally, enforcement of the EPA regulations is up to the state in which you live. If you don't find information on the EPA web site, search for the pollution control agency or EPA office for your specific state. Often an anonymous call to the Air Quality Division can put to rest many of the air permitting questions you may have. Generally, these agencies are helpful for someone who appears to be concerned with the regulations. Calculations would ultimately be made to determine if a permit is required for your specific situation. As stated earlier, many finishes should not exceed thresholds set by the EPA, but many states have air permit requirements more stringent than the EPA. It is worth a check.