Cheap Spray Booth for About $22

About: I have always like building... now I have the skills and equipment to do some really cool stuff.

Supplies you'll need:
1. box fan 24" (most stores have these for about $12-$15)
2. Air conditioning/heating filters close to 24" square to be same size as fan... little bigger one way is okay. (hardware store under $5)
3. Cardboard box (mine was 25" x 25" x 8")
4. Duct (duck) tape (hardware store $6)
5. Dowels 1/4" about the size of a pencil, three or four (hardware store, less than $1 each) If you have bamboo rods that will work also.

Step 1: Box:

Your box should be 24" x 24" or slightly bigger with a depth of 6" or more.
Open the box and tape the flaps open to make a big cardboard tunnel.

Front top flap... fold all the way back and tape down, otherwise it's kind-a hard to see your work (see image)

Tape inside and out, don't leave any little gaps!

Step 2: Fan:

1. Stick fan in back end of box. Put the bottom of the fan in about 2" farther than the top of the fan (this will enable you to put it up against a wall and the fan will have room to breath).
2. Tape the edges of the box to the fan... you want the fan to draw the air through the box... not suck it through little cracks.
3. Make sure that the fan is pointing/blowing out of the box rather than through the box!

Step 3: Filters:

Slide the filters, one at a time, down to the end of the box till they touch the fan.
If you planned right the filters are just small enough to slide inside the box. If they are snug on the sides and a little big on the top and bottom.. that's okay, just angle the filters.

*(Note: I didn't know anything about filters when I did this... I later discovered that better filters will remove smaller particles and some can even remove the bad smell)

Step 4: Poles:

Use duct (duck) tape to secure the poles in the mouth of the box opening. You can also drill little holes and stick them in... but I didn't think of that till later.
The sticks are to hold the paper, aluminum plate, or whatever you are airbrushing away from the filters and the fan (the fan sucks really good even on the lowest setting)

*(If you want to drill some holes on the vertical sides and put the poles in horizontally... that will work also, just use a clothes pin to hang your paper or other art.)

Step 5: Plug It in and Start Painting...

This set-up works really well and costs lots less than others that you can buy. The fan is quiet, powerful and adjustable if you want more suction.

One other advantage that this has over the plastic tub kind that I have seen is that when the year is over (teaching that is) you can trash all but the fan and save lots of space... Just make a new one the next year.

The only drawback to this... is that isn't not big enough for t-shirt work. It twill works but it's a little awkward. I have since made a bigger better one...

Step 6: Newer, Bigger & Better

This is part two of the cheap spray booth. Using the same parts and a new box I created a bigger, better & Newer spray booth that works great and lets you paint on t-shirts.

It doesn't look like it... but this is pretty much the same thing in a different configuration. I used a box that was roughly 18" x 15" x 36"

I cut the box diagonally from to create two wedge/triangle shapes.

then taped them together to form one bigger wedge/triangle shape

Step 7: Fan

I cut two holes in the back of the wedge/triangle shape that was a little smaller than the fan (about 23" x23")

The fan is just taped to the back of the wedge/triangle shape and taped so there are no holes for air to get sucked through.

This design is a little different in that the fan is straight up and down... I needed to give the fan some breathing room so I took two paper towel tubes and taped them on the bottom corners of the wedge/triangle shape. Now the fan can dissipate the air better.

Step 8: Sticks

I used bamboo sticks, again because I had them, to make stand-off for the art and so the t-shirt boards wouldn't get sucked into the filters.

I cut a little notch in the edges and the middle of the wedge/triangle shape, slid the bamboo sticks in and taped them down. (I use large paper clips to hold the paper in place when painting)

Step 9: Filters (+$4-$5)

This time I used much better filters... last time it was all about cheap. This time I used better filters that will actually catch smaller things as well as help with the smell. (this only raises the price $4-5)

the filters are just big enough to cover the hole that leads to the fan but small enough to fit in the box (The filters are 14" x 21" x 1"). You can use bigger, thicker, more expensive filters it just depends on how much you want floating around your room. If you are painting in a one room apartment you might want thicker, better filters and add a charcoal filter for the smell.

I taped them in using the yellow duct (duck) tape forcing all the over spray to go into the filters rather than around them.

Overall this set up works really well for larger things. If you only do model cars or smaller stuff... stick with the other one. I would recommend upgrading the filters for better filtration.

Step 10: All the Pictures...

Here are all the pictures so you can look without having to skip all over.

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    19 Discussions

    More than likely... it's moving so much air that it would be really hard to cause any fire or anything. Make sure you are venting outside... and you should be good. Those box fans don't have much in the way of a great power draw so sparks and such are minimised.


    5 years ago on Step 5

    i just checked, desk top spray booths cost from $70 to $500,, may be you could buy the motor and filters, for those folks who are concerned about motor spar[king


    5 years ago on Step 5

    , this is great, schools don't have the money anymore to buy stuff. good for you in solving a problem at a low cost..


    10 years ago on Step 10

    If you paint smaller stuff and can find an old microwave oven being thrown out. Take the plate and the roller from the bottom and you'll have a stand to put your stuff on and you can easily spin it when painting to get at all parts easily.

    5 replies

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Microwaves are also one of the best places to place your finished panel as they keep dust away quite efficiently. Or so I have been told by many a model maker.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Another option is to pick up a 'lazy susan' at a garage sale, or cheap from wally-world.  They can be found for less than $5, and it's an option if you can't find an old microwave.


    Reply 10 years ago on Step 10

    Wow, That's a really great idea. Been wondering how to do that. I have been sticking my fingers in it.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Cool, but I have some safety concerns about this one. Commercial spray booths are very careful to have electrical equipment that is rated to contain sparks if it malfunctions. The flammable spray paint can easily create a flammable atmosphere inside the box enclosure. If the cheap box fan overheats or has any issues it can ignite this atmosphere, causing a nasty fire. It's not smart to pull flammable vapors over a non-flammable rated motor.

    2 replies

    Works great. if you wanna use it for Spray paint you need to use a different system that ducts the fumes outside... ask me how I know this. g