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What Makes a Marine Paint Booth Different?

Water-borne vessels such as ships, yachts, boats and jet skis require durable and long lasting paint jobs that can withstand the elements. Fresh water, salt water, sun and wind can strip away protective coatings leaving your watercraft vulnerable. Accudraft thought of this when designing their marine paint and refinishing booths, creating the ideal environment for applying marine coatings. Temperature, humidity, and exposure to compounds are tightly controlled in order to meet code for safe and efficient operating conditions.

A large yacht ready for refinishing

Designed to Fit Your Needs

The height and width of watercraft like sailboats and tall ships plays a part in the overall shape and layout of the marine paint or refinishing booth. Booths can be designed to conform to the watercraft to reduce the overall volume of the interior of the paint booth. By making a design that accommodates the body of the vessel, the overall airflow needed is reduced, thus minimizing the overall heat, cooling, humidity and control capacity required. Not only is the size of the air handlers needed reduced and more affordable, the overall energy needed to condition the marine paint booth is greatly reduced. This translates to saving on energy every day for the life of the installation.

An example of a marine paint booth designed to fit the body of a sailboat

Marine paint booths with a conformed design are more efficient work spaces since hoses, reels, electric, air, water can be installed closer to where they will be needed. Curtains can also be integrated into the design of the marine paint booth, and can be drawn down to isolate the marine painting spray area or make several areas for prepping parts, substrates or spraying marine coatings. If radiant heat technology is used to heat the paint booth, the sections are closer in proximity to the body of the watercraft being painted. This offers better heat distribution for the vessel as well as the painters or workers working in the booth.

Air Temperature and Humidity

When spraying marine coatings on large vessels inside a paint booth, the size becomes a major point of analysis by engineers. When conditioning air to such a degree of exact standards (usually imposed by the marine coating manufacturer in order to ensure proper performance of the coating) it is important to understand exactly how much energy is used to achieve these near perfect air conditions. Marine paint booths require the addition of heat and/or cooling as well as humidification or dehumidification to get the air inside the paint booth to the specifications required.

Enhanced Filtration

Many marine coatings contain hazardous elements that must be filtered and neutralized to adhere to emissions standards and regulations. The National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants, or NESHAP, dictates that filtration must meet minimum efficiency requirements in order to be allowed to operate. Method 319 is a test that uses potassium chloride and oleic acid to simulate chromate paint overspray and ensure filtration is up to code. Our NESHAP filter arrays consist of multiple stages of filtration to meet industry standards, and can be condensed or expanded into separate chambers to allow pressure readings to be read between each filter section. Carbon filtration may also be employed to help neutralize certain elements found in the chemistry of marine coatings and materials.

Exploded view of a four stage NESHAP filter wall

Airflow and Recirculation

Moving the air through a marine paint or refinishing booth can be challenging due to the requirements for temperature, humidity, and speed. In addition, the shape of the watercraft can affect the airflow pattern and, if not addressed, can result in unfavorable spraying conditions. By keeping the airflow moving freely, overspray is minimized and operations run more efficiently.

Getting air to flow properly is important, but so is recirculation in marine paint booths that are spraying marine coatings. The MACT (Maximum Achievable Control Technology) standard is a level of control to reduce hazardous air pollutant emissions, and must be met to ensure recirculated air is safe to work in. Airflow and air speed lfm requirements for paint booths required by OSHA, NFPA, and the department of environmental protection can be met with the use of recirculation while still saving the facility energy.

Airflow diagram of a marine paint booth in a downdraft configuration

Another reason air recirculation is important is heat reclaim. On a large watercraft paint booth, reclaiming heated air can save thousands of dollars per month. There is no need to exhaust all of the used air and draw in fresh every cycle. The bigger the marine painting application, the more the user will save with the addition of heat reclaim.

LEL Monitoring

LEL stands for Lower Explosive Limit, and must be monitored using a device that detects hazardous levels of a combustible gas or solvent vapor in the air. Marine and watercraft paint booths must meet MACT standards for airflow and air speed. Several authorities dictate the airflow standards to maintain a safe environment in which to spray marine coatings. Airflow throughout the marine paint boot must be maintained such that the LEL is not exceeded.

A standard LEL monitor

LEL is one of many factors that come into consideration when designing a marine paint or refinishing booth. Many marine coatings contain VOC’s and other compounds that must be monitored in and around the paint booth. Many locations throughout a marine painting facility must be monitored in different ways. Where the marine coatings are being sprayed, a few different compounds or levels must be monitored. Paint kitchens or marine paint storage areas must be monitored separately and for different compounds or different levels of hazardous marine coating compounds present in the air.


Standalone control panels for marine paint booths provide heating, cooling, re circulation, and humidity control at one convenient location for the paint booth operator. Marine paint booth control panels that include BMS (Building Management System) integration capability allow several paint booths or marine coating application systems to be joined onto one local network. This network can be controlled by the larger building management system employed throughout the marine maintenance facility. These building management systems can control several aspects of the facility including the paint booth or watercraft painting hanger, hvac systems, pump systems, fire alarm, security alarms, critical facility infrastructure and emergency announcement systems, to name a few. Engineering a marine paint booth that can be its own BMS or integrated into an existing building management system is critical to some of the worlds most advanced marine painting, maintenance, and corrosion control facilities.

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