Among the many challenges a refinish technician is faced within the course of a day, keeping a paint job clean is one that can sometimes be much more difficult than it sounds. While a contemporary paint booth and modern equipment can certainly be beneficial, it is by no means a guarantee of clean work. In many cases, dirt nibs end up in your paint jobs as the result of something fairly simple that’s being overlooked.
We should all be in agreement that proper booth maintenance is crucial, from changing your filters regularly to keeping the inside clean and clutter-free. One thing to ponder, when was the last time you changed your airline? What condition is it in? Airlines wear and can sometimes be neglected, driven over, and covered in dust or overspray. What you can’t see is that airlines also wear on the inside. The inner wall can actually break away and unless your using a line filter it can send particles through your gun and into your paint. By properly maintaining your airline you can avoid finding dirt specks that you may never even of had a chance to see!
In newer, high-end paint booths, cabin pressure is not generally something to worry about. However, many paint booths do not automatically adjust the cabin pressure and it must be verified on every job. Different sized objects in the paint booth and filter saturation will both impact your cabin pressure. While negative pressure can increase airflow, it can also draw dirt into the booth. In most cases, you will want to be running at a slight positive pressure.
Evaluate your preparation materials, ensure that you are in the lint-free zone! Lint can usually be easily spotted so take some steps to eliminate it from your paint booth. Lower end masking paper and rags will introduce more lint, so avoid the temptation to cut costs using them. The same rule applies to tack clothes as a low-quality tack rag can break apart, fail to remove particles, and even transfer residue. If you’re using a cotton tack cloth look for a tighter weave instead of a low thread count, or consider a polyester knit tack cloth instead.
When it comes to maintaining spray equipment you should break down your gun often and ensure it is always as clean as possible. After cleaning let your spray gun air dry rather than wiping it dry with towels. This will prevent lint from contaminating your spray gun and ending up in your paint jobs. When spraying, set your wall regulator to the lowest pressure needed to achieve the required PSI at your gun. This will not only just reduce air surges, but also improve your spray guns performance.
Lastly, remember that with a great paint job comes great responsibility. There is no time like the present to take those preventative steps that you’re already aware of. Toss away that re-usable wheel cover, save masking for the end, and use your stands for the paint booth only. Take the time to evaluate your current process and invest yourself in prevention, not into polishing.