Posted 31 May 2024

Crossflow, Downdraft, and Semi-Downdraft spray booths: pros and cons of each type

When painting a car, aircraft, or any other sizable object, a spray booth is indispensable to ensure a top-quality finish. However, there are various types of spray booths, each with distinct advantages and disadvantages. The primary spray booth types are cross-flow, downdraft, and semi-downdraft. In this article, we'll delve into each type and explore their unique characteristics.

Cross-flow spray booths

The cross-flow spray booth represents the simplest form of a spray booth. It features a rear suction filter box located at the bottom of the cabin, which draws air from the filtering doors via an extraction fan and directs it horizontally across the entire length of the cabin.

The airflow is then expelled through the filters at the opposite end of the cabin. While cross-flow spray booths are generally the most economical option (as they don't require civil engineering), they do have some drawbacks. Since air doesn't flow directly onto the vehicle, overspray may settle on the freshly painted surface, leading to finish imperfections.

Downdraft spray booths

A downdraft spray booth represents an improvement over the cross-flow booth. It excels in removing paint overspray from the work area and reduces the risk of cross-contamination between workpieces. It is well-suited for applications requiring a pristine environment and high-quality standards, such as the automotive and aerospace industries.

This type of booth features an air inlet engine and an extraction motor. The air inlet motor delivers filtered and possibly heated air into the cabin plenum, while the extraction motor facilitates airflow through the floor filters and outward. This creates a downward airflow over the vehicle or object being painted, ensuring that overspray is drawn down and away from the freshly painted surface, resulting in a smooth and uniform finish. Downdraft booths typically come at a higher cost than cross-flow ones but are the preferred choice for high-end paint jobs.

Semi-Downdraft Spray Booths

As the name suggests, a semi-downdraft spray booth combines elements of both cross-flow and downdraft models. It is equipped with a ventilation and exhaust system that passes from the plenum's ceiling filters with reduced section, directing airflow vertically and then at a slight angle toward the suction box filters.

This creates diagonal airflow over the vehicle before being pulled down and expelled through the rear filters. Semi-downdraft booths offer a balance between the cost-effectiveness of cross-flow booths and the high-quality finish of downdraft booths.

Which type of spray booth is best for you?

The choice of the right paint booth depends on several factors, including budget, the nature of the work, and the size of the objects to be painted. Cross-flow booths are suitable for small-scale operations with limited budgets or for painting smaller aircraft, while downdraft booths are ideal for high-end body shops and other professional applications. Semi-downdraft booths offer a compromise between cost and performance and are suitable for various applications, including woodworking.


In conclusion, selecting a paint booth requires careful consideration of specific needs and budgets. Additionally, certain industrial sectors may have regulations and standards influencing the choice of ventilation flow. Cross-flow, downdraft, and semi-downdraft paint booths each offer distinct advantages and disadvantages, underscoring the importance of evaluating options thoroughly before making an investment.