With this guide, you don’t need a ton of resources or space to be able create a DIY HVLP spray booth to varnish your prints at home.

Varnish has always been a popular topic here on The Breathing Color Blog.

Whether we’re talking about how to properly apply it, or how to avoid ruining your work with it, we’re always thrilled to see your responses to varnish discussion.

Customers often ask us about their options for spray varnish. Could they buy a used paint booth? Could they build one at home? What kind of paint filters should they use to protect themselves?

With these questions in mind, we’re happy to bring this helpful DIY post, originally published in 2011, back from archives, updated with new products available in 2015.

Introduction: Why Spray?

While foam-roller varnishing can be a great method for many printmakers, some find HVLP varnishing applied in a spray box to be a much easier and more consistent way to varnish canvas prints.

This is especially the case when varnishing large canvas prints and high volume production runs, where it becomes increasingly difficult to use the foam roller method with consistency. The good news is, creating an HVLP Spray Booth for varnishing canvas prints is easier than you might have thought!

While there are countless variations of how this can be accomplished, in this post, we’ll show you one example of how to create a “no frills” DIY HVLP spray booth on a budget with items from your local hardware store.

Supplies and Materials

In our example, we have chosen to build our booth in an unused corner inside of a large room in our building. By using a corner, we have already created 2 of the 3 sides needed for our spray booth.

DIY HVLP spray booth

The Frame

Painter’s plastic and tape are always great tools for many types of home projects because the plastic is lightweight and durable, and painter’s tape does not leave behind a residue. Using drywall anchors and screws will provide a strong hold that won’t damage your wall. PVC pipe is very inexpensive and comes in many lengths and thicknesses. Utilizing the various lengths available as well as PVC elbows you could create an entire booth out of PVC pipe and elbows.

The Backing

Pegboard is a great choice for mounting the prints as the machined holes allow excess overspray to run through. This helps to keep the area clean.

DIY HVLP Spray Booth

The Spray Gun

If you don’t have a compressor or are limited on space, the Wagner Control Spray Double Duty HVLP spray gun is a great gun to use. The package includes everything that you need to get started. The gun connects to an air hose that is connected to the turbine. This gun is very easy to clean as you can simply run warm water through it, provided you do so relatively soon after you have finished coating. The turbine runs on a standard 120 volt outlet.


Shopping List

DIY HVLP Spray Booth
Picking up your materials for this project is as easy as stopping by a Home Depot. You can verify your local store has what you need by visiting the links below. Print out the list with Home Depot item numbers for easy shopping by clicking here.
 

Total Cost = $125


Ready to kick your varnishing game up a notch? Download the printable shopping list below, which includes Home Depot item numbers and check boxes to check as you pick up items at the store.


Step by Step Video Tutorial

View the below how-to video for a full walkthrough of how to set up your DIY HVLP spray booth using the products we’ve covered above.

Notes

With this set up and a spare Saturday to run to the hardware store, you’ll be up and running with your own HVLP spray booth in no time.

Remember to ventilate while spraying – ideally with a small fan pointed out a window as to exhaust the fumes. You’ll also need to protect yourself with goggles and a respirator. If you don’t have these items already, we recommend the following:

Total setup time for this project is about 1 hour, including setting up the HVLP gun. It only takes a few minutes to get used to the Wagner HVLP gun, and cleanup is as simple as running warm to hot water through it. All of the parts can be detached for cleaning purposes and can be put back together in seconds.

This is just one of many ways you can build a spray booth on a budget, but we hope it gets you thinking about how to improve your craft and save money doing it!

Here’s a video showing a custom spray booth, courtesy of our friends at Bellevue Fine Art who use our Glamour II print varnish to spray their prints:

Have any questions? Leave them in the comments below and we’ll help you out.

Further Resources

What’s next? Further your education on varnish with these selected posts from our blog!

  • The Solutions to 5 Common Print Varnish Problems

  • From bubbled or cloudy prints to cracked canvas, download this PDF to avoid making varnish mistakes that can cost you entire prints.

  • How to Spray Canvas Prints Like a Pro

  • When it comes to spraying prints, setting up your booth is just the beginning! This post covers best practices such as using proper lighting, and even includes a video to demonstrate proper spray technique.

  • Mastering Canvas Varnish: Water Vs. Solvent Bases

  • Learn about the two main categories of varnish and how to select the right one for your work.

  • 4 Options for Stretching Canvas Prints

  • After you’ve coated your canvas, you’re probably looking to get it stretched and ready for display or purchase. This guide walks you through four of the primary options for stretching canvas prints – from doing it yourself to outsourcing. Plenty of great links and information there.

About the Author

Nick Friend, President of Breathing Color, Inc., is a principle-centered entrepreneur who has over 15+ years of experience in developing and executing innovative sales and marketing strategies as well as building, training, and leading national and international sales forces. His ability to recognize market opportunities, build successful business models, and lead organizations has been demonstrated with multiple business ventures. Mr. Friend was honored by the Orange County Business Journal's "Excellence in Entrepreneurship Awards" in 2007 & 2008.

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