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Written by: Jeremy Winters

What to Consider When Buying a Paint Booth

For many just starting out, their main concerns are getting a booth that is within compliance with local code and starting to paint as soon as possible. Sometimes a busy business owner skips over some very important secondary questions like: What about the overall quality of the booth? How’s it made? Where am I going to get replacement parts? Who is going to service this new machine? These are things that are solved by buying from a quality and well established manufacturer like Accudraft.

Rushing into a purchase is something everyone should avoid. Certainly, as business owners, we understand the value in pushing your people to “hurry up and get running,” but we’ll show you how if you take just an afternoon an just look around, you can do yourself a huge favor and max out the dollars you’re about to spend. We’ve spoken with many customers over the years that purchased machines and didn’t really end up with a great long-term investment. Some things we hear are “I needed a booth and just assumed they were all the same” or “I was in a hurry and I needed it right away.” When you get into your next expansion or booth project, ask yourself, does it actually have all the features a booth can have by today’s standard? Does it serve the needs I have now and can it grow with me to higher levels of business?

When looking at the total cost of a booth project, you want to be sure that the project goes smoothly, that your shop flows correctly once it’s in place and more than anything, that the machine itself is the right one for the next 10-20-30 years. So let’s go over a few things that you should take into consideration before making your purchase

Paint Shop Flow

Are you a high production shop painting 4+ vehicles out of a single booth each day? Or are you painting significantly less? This can help you decide on a few options. A higher production shop benefits greatly from using heated systems for fast paint curing and you should always look for a draft type that naturally keeps the space as clean as possible (Think Dustless!!). If at all possible, a downdraft booth is the best option. Gravty pulls dust down, the draft pulls dust down, any particle movement created in the booth naturally heads to the floor and generally stays there. If possible, a fully grated floor is the absolute cleanest environment possible. A full floor of grates gives dust no place to settle. Absolutely everything falls through the grates and gets trapped in the filters. While the center-row pit design creates a strong rip of air around the object, remember that a fully grated floor with Accudraft’s Evenflo system allows you to create that same rip directly under the car but you gain the added benefit of the entire rest of the floor still having strong suction under the grates. This will trap any other debris in the booth. Dragging a hose across a dirty floor or tracking things around with your shoes is no longer an issue. No more paint build-up on the concrete floor or trash in the far corners etc. Truly a “clean room” type environment.

Another great option is a drive-through design booth with doors on both ends of the cabin. A drive-through design free-s up real estate and reduces down time when compared to having only one way in and out of the booth. You can stage cars ahead of the booth and demask and cool on the other side of the booth. Having to jockey cars out of the way of the booth when it comes to loading time is a huge time killer. Vehicles traveling in one direction through the paint shop is optimal.

Placement of the Booth

When considering booth placement, a few very important issues arise. If you plan on doing a drive-through design booth, will you have room to pull a vehicle out behind the booth? Is there already a rollup door behind the location for exit or other means of moving the car out? What about ceiling height of the shop? While most booths require a higher ceiling height, there are some applications made for shops that don’t. For example, our Accudraft Space Saver booth only requires a 12-15ft ceiling height. It is important to know the dimensions in the area you want to place the booth prior to purchasing and starting the install process.

Is Cutting Concrete an Issue?

Surprisingly, when looking at the cost of a booth, many shops forget that modification of the concrete is sometimes necessary when going with a downdraft booth. The unfortunate part here is that concrete work, no matter the scope, is never cheap. However, even if concrete modification is out of the question, a downdraft booth can still be had. Today, raised pit booths are available for those who want them but are limited by what they can do in the building which they currently reside. The raised pit is a fully grated floor which is extremely clean as we stated earlier. The above-ground version does require 7’ ramps in front (and rear if it’s a drive-through application).

What Kind of Booth Do You Want?

No matter what, it’s your shop, your choice. Going with a booth that you will be using for the next 10+ years is up to you. So being sure that you get the one you want is important. Find the one that fits your needs best and don’t compromise. Think about today and also THE FUTURE!! Whether it be a downdraft, semi downdraft, side downdraft, cross draft, etc. You want a booth that will deliver the best value for the dollar in your application.

What About Electrical, Gas, and Fire Suppression?

Is your electrical system up to par? What about your gas system? The last thing you want to do is sink all of that money into a booth and then have issues because of the gas or electrical and believe it or not, this happens a lot. If you’re a shop that is upgrading its booths, now would be a great time to have your electrical and gas systems checked. Fire suppression is a whole other problem that can be had. Many times, it tends to be a system that is ignored during planning since its something that does not get used in the normal daily operations. As with everything, things have changed over the years, and ensuring you have everything up to code, as well as correct wiring and plumbing will save you A LOT of headaches when it comes time for install.

Are All Paint Booths Expensive?

Actually no, not all booths are expensive and meant for high production. However, different booths are at a different price points depending on what they can do.The technology involved, the certifications held, the efficiency of the booth, etc.

What About Economy Booths?

Yes, Accudraft offers an economy-based line of booths called the Pro Series. Simple, bolt together construction with or without heat. They offer a great solution to a start-up shop that isn’t doing high production, hot rod shops that are only painting a handful of vehicles a year, or other applications fit right in to this group. These booths are widely used by many genres of refinishing currently.

Actual Cost vs. Upfront Cost

When looking to purchase a new booth for your refinishing needs, in some cases, the booth can actually be the cheapest part of the project. Construction and project fees by themselves can add up quickly. There is never just the cost of the booth and installation. Remember that the project costs are the same whether you buy a great machine or a not-so-great machine. Looking to save money on the booth is not the best policy. Ask yourself this question: If I’m going to spend 100, 150, 200k on a project that is centered around a machine, why would I skimp on the machine that I’m ultimately left with. We’ve seen people make the mistake before where they saved $10,000 on a cheap machine and still spent 100-120k on the project. The ended up “saving” as little as 5% when you look at the whole thing and now they have an expensive purchase of a tool that they’re stuck with using for the next 20 years.

Think of it as putting in a pool at your house. You shop and go small on the pool to “save” money… but still have to run electric, pour a pool deck, landscaping, permits, fences… All the same work, all the same money AROUND the pool. You turn around when it’s all done and you look out your window and say “I wish I went a little bigger.” All the costs were just about the same, the project was just as stressful.. and for the small difference in price, you didn’t end up with what you wanted in the first place. OUCH!!! We probably won’t admit it to our friends, but a lot of us have been here.

Why Buy a Paint Booth from Accudraft?

You’re about to spend, so consider EVERYTHING that comes with the price-point of a booth when shopping. What do you get for that initial price? Luckily Accudraft, as a rule, packages its systems fully loaded. No missing options or chopping of features. Accudraft fiercely protects its product packages and ensures that and Accudraft is an Accudraft no matter where it is. We will not chop down or remove features from a package. If there is a better deal to be had, our salespeople will work with you, but not by removing parts of the product. The product package stays the same. If it’s a TITAN, an ITALIA, or an SS, then that is what you’re going to get.

Not all booths are the same and here at Accudraft, we pride ourselves on delivering a quality, long lasting booth that will serve you and your technicians for years to come. We also have the service and parts in place to ensure that when needed, downtime is always a minimum. Take a look at what all Accudraft has to offer and see the difference when you go dustless.

Call 1-800-524-0340 or contact us online.