Spray Booth Floor Treatment?

Pros discuss strategies to keep floors clean and protected for trouble-free spraying. August 30, 2007

I am in search of a solution for the floor of our spray booth. I need something that allows for the overspray generated from CV, PUR, Solvent Stain, and Hydro Stain to be relatively easily cleaned up. We have tried flame retardant floor paper which tears easily and is hard to sweep clean, cardboard which lasts considerably longer than the floor paper but is also hard to sweep clean, and epoxy floor paint, which is easy to sweep clean, but collects too much overspray. I make multiple mention of the sweeping clean which seems to plague our efforts to achieve a dirt free finish whenever there is a protective layer applied over the floor.

Our booth is in constant production all day long every day, so it is seeing a fairly high volume of material and traffic. What are other manufacturers doing to protect the floors in their booths?

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor G:
I've used laminate backer sheets. By the time they start to wear out, they're thick with overspray and it's time to change 'em anyway.

From contributor D:
Try Chemco High Strength floor covering. Unlike standard booth paper, it is nonporous and reinforced with fiberglass for excellent resistance to tearing. At first I hesitated on the price as it is a good bit higher than standard paper, but I've been using this stuff now for 5 years or more and love it. It really lasts and there is very little penetration of liquids even where I am consistently sloppy. Chemco always tells me when I try a new product that if I don't like it, I don't have to buy it. Hard to beat that offer.

From contributor C:
Find the cheapest, usually about $1 sq ft, 1 x 1 ceramic tile.

From the original questioner:
For those who use a covering on the floor, how are you controlling the dirt/dust? No matter how many times we sweep, it is never as clean as without a floor covering. The proof is in the finished surface of the product. Parts sprayed in a booth with no floor covering are noticeably smoother than parts sprayed in a booth with floor covering.

On a weekly basis, I just broom the loose overspray that settles on the paper to the back of the booth. I certainly do not find that I need a dust free floor in my area to get a dust free finish. Of course the tiny speck or hair once in a while finds its way to the middle of a top on the final coat, but no avoiding that. I will grant you that PUR is a bit more prone to the stray speck of dust because it takes longer to flash off. I've heard of others misting down the floor with water just before spraying - I've just never had such an issue with dust in my finish.

If you're having a lot of problem with dust in finish, I have to wonder about your air flow into the booth - if it is inadequate or if it is too much or coming in or too fast so there is turbulence. Turbulence can be a real headache. An inexpensive air velocity gauge will reveal if you have a problem here. Take a reading at varied points at the face of your booth - you should be pulling within 80-100 feet per minute at all points.

From contributor T:
I agree. My spray booth has an unfinished cement floor that I sweep clean and blow the dust off before spraying. What I do is always make sure that my booth is at 95 -110 degrees with 40%-50% humidity. The finish dries much faster and you have less of a chance of having dust, hair, or other airborne particles wind up in the finish. Overall my booth pretty much runs all day long and I've never had a problem with a rough finish due to dust.

My setup?
10' x 15' spray booth.
A furnace blower as an exhaust fan.
An unfinished cement floor.
The room is not sealed in any way and the incoming air is not filtered.

Still with all of the above, we spray about 25-40 gallons of lacquer a month and I've never had a problem with dust in the finish. Above all I think the most important thing is to blow the whole room with an air blower before spraying and the fan will take out all the dust. I do this 2-3 times a day and I also pass a stiff brush on the floor to loosen any lacquer that has settled before blowing the room. We use Target Coating's products only.

From the original questioner:
I found a peelable coating similar to what we spray on the booth walls, but specifically formulated for floor use and heavy traffic. We will be trying it out as soon as it arrives and I will post the results here.

From contributor E:
This is a very good question. Quality of finish is almost always dependant of booth cleanliness. Here's how you start. First make sure all pieces that are entering your booth are clean by means of tack cloth, not rags. Rags can leave fine hairs on your pieces. I always start every morning by vacuuming the booth floor and walls. Blowing and brushing overspray will only help to make it airborne and contaminate your quality. After the booth is cleaned, I follow by washing down the walls from top to bottom, then the floors. I use a mix of soap and water I spray through a simple spray pump you can buy from Home Depot for $15-$20 dollars. Water works just as well. Covering the floor with paper will work sometimes depending on what you're spraying and how long. However, water has been proven for years to be the best method of cleaning. Allow the walls to dry and I usually begin while the floor is still wet so as to absorb the overspray right into the water. By mid-day, simply repeat this process and you should have better luck in your situation.

From contributor W:
What kind of lacquer do you shoot that you can use a vacuum cleaner to clean with?

From contributor E:
SW cab acrylic, Chemcraft pre-cats, SW conversion varnish, ILVA polyurethanes. I also use Chemcraft lacquer primers.

From contributor W:
What type of vacuum are you using that wouldn't create static electricity? I've always thought that running a vacuum across surfaces like that will create static electricity, which is more hazardous than blowing out or sweeping up.

From contributor E:
I use a Craftsman wet dry vac from Sears. Vacuuming overspray should not create static electricity, but I'm not by any means an electrical expert. I've never had any problems and been at it for 10 years with the same Blowtherm down draft booth. The overspray is dry by the time you vacuum it anyway, so all the VOCs have already been pulled out of the environment by the airflow of the booth.

From contributor R:
If you could see my finished product, then see my spray area, you would never believe it. Clean areas are overrated. Compressed air is the biggest problem. I use a Kremlin which has no overspray and very little pressure, so there is no stirring of the dust. Air draw also has a lot to do with it. I have heard about this 100' per second crap for years - just make sure the room isn't air starved so that the dust kicks up. Sometimes when I am spraying a very important piece, I take a spray bottle full of water and mist the floor.

From contributor T:

I agree totally! My spray booth is far from ideal. I actually have to open a window to allow for air intake of the exhaust fan. I do high end finishing of antiques and kitchens and I've never had a problem. When it comes to spray booths, there are a lot of people who go overboard and it's a waste of time and money.

From contributor I:
I finally put white epoxy on my booth floor. The reason? It filled the pores of the concrete and made it easy to sweep overspray powder. It doesn't break down from basic lacquer or stain dust. I can really see the powder when it builds. This was on the heels of installing a Kremlin, so I have much less overspray and a quick clean-up due to the sealed floor. Oh yeah, it increased the light in the room by 20%. Overkill? Perhaps.

From contributor T:
I actually thought of spraying the wall with white paint and epoxy coating on top. It sounds like it may work fine. And you can wash it down easier.