I need to buy an airbrush spray booth for my hobby room, so it’s time to take a look at the best available choices, and see which one is right for me.
eBay portable spray booth: sold under various brand names, there’s plenty to like about these units, beginning with their affordable price points. Even delivered into Canada, the cost would be no more than $200.
From its remarkably compact folded size, it quickly expands out into a usable spray booth for smaller model kits. Need something bigger? You can place two units side-by-side, and mate them together.
The portable spray booth can be purchased from a vast array of on-line sellers, and can be purchased with or without a telescoping length of outlet hose. I already have a better quality exhaust hose and a custom-built exhaust port, but I would still need one of their exhaust outlet flanges, so I’d order this spray booth with the optional exhaust system.
The are a few deficiencies to contend with here. The exhaust fan is not especially powerful, resulting in airflow that’s adequate, at best. The filters are comparatively small, but, at five for only about $25, quite inexpensive. This spray booth seems built well enough to get the job done, but clearly will not withstand rough handling or hard impacts.
Overall, I consider this spray booth the “budget oriented” contender.
The Paasche HSSB-22-16: an all-metal spray booth. Compared to the folding portable style booths, this is bigger, heavier-duty, and features higher airflow and potentially better filtration. It also costs a lot more, with a selling price just under $400 USD. Adding in shipping and duty, it would cost me $600, landed in Canada. That’s more than I’d be willing to pay for a no-frills, no extras, spray booth. I see this unit as being priced at double what it’s truly worth.
BenchVent A300S-D: This spray booth is immensely popular in Great Britain and throughout parts of Europe. Popular YouTube modellers like Paul Bretland and Phil Flory can frequently be seen using them in their videos. In fact, Phil Flory now uses a pair of them, side by side!
The GraphicAir sell for about £220, which currently equals about $360 CDN. That’s not too bad! I do like everything about this spray booth. It’s simple, effective, ergonomic, and affordable, so why isn’t this my automatic choice?
The one sticking point is the incredibly high shipping costs from the UK. To get one of these booths shipped to Canada would cost a whopping £100, or $160 CDN. Another issue is the high costs of air filters, when purchased from BenchVent. A simple work-around for the filters is to buy the material in a bulk roll, cutting off what you need, as you need it. It wouldn’t take long for that little scheme to pay off.
If a North American company marketed a spray booth, like this, I’d buy it in a heartbeat! And I’m sure many other hobbyists would too. As good as the A300S-D is, a total cost of $520 to have one shipped over from Britain just doesn’t sit well with me.
Artograph 1530: this is probably one of the more popular spray booths in North America, mostly because it enjoys good availability through graphic supply distributers. Scale modelling is probably not the Artograph’s intended use, but it can surely do the job.
What, right away, stops me from giving the Artograph any serious consideration is its downdraft design, meaning the plenum chamber and exhaust fan motors are underneath the work surface. This results in the spray area being elevated about 20cm, so I’d have to stand and spray downwards while using my airbrushes. Every other design I’ve looked at would permit me to remain comfortably seated while spraying.
Another knock on this booth is the exhaust outlets exiting out the side. I would have to gently curve my exhaust hoses (there would be two, in this case) toward the outlet above where I work. That’s not just inconvenient, it also hogs valuable working space.
If all that wasn’t enough, the Artograph spray booths are absurdly overpriced. One dealer in Canada is charging $755 for this unit. I could get one shipped from the U.S., but even then, it would still come in at well over $600 CDN.
Pace Peace Keeper 24″ Super Mini: if I must spend anywhere near $600 to get an effective spray booth, this is the one I’ll get!
This Pace spray booth is loaded with serious features, like polished galvanized steel construction, an industrial fan motor, built-in lighting, separate front-mounted switches for the lights and fan, and as a practical touch, it can even use common household air conditioner filters, which are available at most local hardware stores. The blatant “Rah-Rah, Made in the U.S. of A.” Peace Keeper graphics which come on this spray booth are a bit off-putting, but those can always be removed.
So those are the contenders I have to choose from. Right now, I think the Pace 24″ Super Mini may have the inside track, but we’ll see what happens in the next couple of months, when I actually have to commit hard-earned dollars. Stay tuned…