Author: Jeremy Winters
It’s a saying that was driven into my head as a young tech some 15 or 16 years ago now. I’m not proud to admit it, but early on I was that messy guy. Un-taping a car, tape and paper everywhere, “I’ll pick it up later,” and move on to the next RO. The walls were covered in overspray and got cleaned MAYBE once a year. Yet I just couldn’t figure out why I had trash issues with my paint jobs (ah to be young and dumb again). It wasn’t until during my tenture at a local dealership, I came across a fellow painter named Jeff McElhaney that took me under his wing to teach me how to be a better painter. As a young tech, I was ecstatic to learn his tricks and sit under the learning tree as he had been painting for 30+ years, where I myself only had 2 or 3 behind the gun. What tricks did he teach me that aided me the most? What did he teach that helped me make more money and helped in every aspect of the job? It wasn’t gun settings, it wasn’t temperature, it wasn’t pacing and flash times. The biggest and most important thing I learned was a simple saying that I have continued to pass along to other techs. “A clean booth is a happy booth.”
It was something I heard a lot from him, but never understood at the time. I would defend myself over and over and the response I would get is “a clean booth is a happy booth.” It wasn’t until I actually started listening that I finally understood what he was talking about. You can clean a vehicle meticulously and to the absolute max. Prep and wash, wipe down, blow off, final tack, even a brand new suit and mask on. NONE of it matters if the booth isn’t clean. Bottom line is, you are only as good as your skills and the environment you paint in. You can have all the skills in the world, but painting in a booth that is trashy and has bad filters will hold you back. Skills alone cannot overcome a bad painting space. Now, I realize that some may disagree. I’ve met painters who love to pretend they’re perfect and that the issues are actually the equipment’s fault. Most of those guys will tell you they’ve never had an issue, been painting for 35 years, etc. Truth is, I wish I knew what reality they lived in.
“…A clean booth is a happy booth…”
If your booth walls have a 5 o’clock shadow and feel like they need a shave or if your filters look like carpet, it’s pretty easy to tell that it is overdue for a cleaning or service. The biggest thing to remember here is cleaning as you go, “a clean booth is a happy booth.” When a vehicle is unloaded, so should all of the masking and such that went with it. Clean it out and blow the booth out at the end of the day, leaving the doors shut for the evening. The booth is your operating room and should be kept clean and maintained to keep optimal performance and reliability. I’ve seen many painters leave the booth doors open all night until the next morning. The problem here is that whatever is in the air in your shop is now in your paint booth, bringing whatever contaminations with it. Please understand, I come from the world of production painting, and I realize that some of you reading this may be saying “I don’t get paid to clean it,” or “I don’t have time to change filters.” I truly get it. But there-in lies the problem. There still isn’t anything being done as far as servicing the booth.
“We can handle it ourselves” seems to be the common mindset and many times that turns into “we’ll do it next week,” which then gets pushed back further and further. It honestly makes me shake my head at people that have this mentality out there, especially management and owners. The paint booth is one of the shops single biggest investments and the fact that so many shops do not do anything to maintain that giant investment blows my mind. For the majority of my 18 years painting in high production collision shops, the paint shop team or I did 90% of general upkeep on our booths. We would change all of our filters by hours ran, change floor coverings, come in on a weekend and pressure wash the booths, you name it. The reason we did it was because it made us more efficient in our day job and we would actually turn more jobs the following week as a result. The other 10% of booth upkeep was handled by a servicing company doing yearly inspections. They would also do emergency repairs to get us up and running on the double. Let’s face it, if the booth is down, you aren’t making money. What’s cheaper in the long run? Changing filters or replacing a fan motor and having the downtime waiting? Should I even bring up how much more buffing is going on because of this? No one is so high on the pedestal in the shop to ignore the basics.
“…A clean booth is a happy booth…”
A booth, when broken down to its most basic form, is a giant air pump moving huge amounts of air through it. It’s impossible to think that anything mechanical can operate for long periods of time without servicing of some kind. Would you drive your car for 100,000 miles with the same air filter from the factory? A lack of maintenance and upkeep is only adding to your bill when things go south. Scheduling the time for filters or cleaning is the only way to stay on top of it if you are handling it all yourself. One thing we used to do is handle filters at the end of the day on Friday so that we’d be ready for the following week; Cleaning would be handled every quarter on a Saturday morning. There are many practices that can be implemented to keep your equipment up and running yourself but, if you’re busy and you’d like to hire out for these services, make sure you reach out to Accudraft. We offer excellent services to clean, service, and keep you up and running and if you do the math, it may actually cost you less than doing it yourself. You’ll get a better service done faster AND we’ll be able to do an 18-point inspection that will help you avoid any major breakdowns in the future.
Send a direct message to Accudraft (details below) and see how our service team can assist your shop. We service all booths and not just our own to help keep your shop moving forward. We help you with routine service, emergency repairs, regular maintenance, and annual inspections.
Social Media: @Accudraft Paint Booths
And remember, ”a clean booth is a happy booth.”