Painting A Hydroponic Vertical Farm

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In this post, I walk you through what decisions I had to make when deciding how (or if) to paint my farm. After reading this you’ll know what to put on your walls for any indoor grow room, hydroponics or not.

painting for indoor growing grow room paint hydroponics paint

This is part of my series on building my own vertical farm proof of concept. For the introductory article, start here.

The surface on the walls are important: proper reflection can increase lighting up to 30%. Perhaps more importantly, the reflected light helps even out your light coverage and prevent dark spots beyond the canopy. This happens because is able to bounce off the reflective covering of the walls and ceiling and come at the plants from many different angles. Thinking this through will make your grow lights seem brighter and more powerful without actually increasing the amount of electricity you use.

Playing into that is situating your plants and lights close enough to the reflective surface for that to make a difference, but since I’ll be setting my pallet racks and plants against the walls, I’m all set.

Painted hydroponic grow room vertical farm

My finished room. This gives you a good idea of the scale of the grow space as well: about an 8×16 footprint.

Now, I’m no Bob Ross, but I thought about painting quite a bit. I had decided early on against anything else for a few reasons. I’ve grown in rooms before that use something like hammered aluminum, the material on the inside of grow tents for example, to make the lights shine as brightly as possible, but that didn’t seem like it would be as neat or as forgiving (for both maintenance and installation*) as a few coats of paint. It’s also definitely more expensive. It is actually more reflective, but I’m eager to get going on my project and it would have been one more thing to find a good source for. Paint I knew I could just get at the hardware store.

The best type of paint to use is a white, latex based, antimicrobial, scrubbable paint with the flattest finish possible.

Let’s break that down:

  • I wanted white paint because it disperses heat without trapping it close to my plants, meaning there is less worry about venting or temperature control
  • I wanted latex-based paint because it helps waterproof my drywall**
  • I wanted antimicrobial paint to control for mildew or mold growth in case my humidity gets out of whack. I’m not super worried about water spillage since I won’t be top watering, but this, combined with the caulking I did around the space where the wall meets the floor should keep my insulation nice and safe
  • I wanted scrubbable paint so I don’t have to worry about paint  coming off during cleaning
  • I wanted a flat finish because it actually reflects more light than a glossy one (85% reflectivity – though I don’t entirely understand that metric)

All in all, while not the absolute highest “lumen saving” option, white paint is the best. It’s affordable, easy to install and use, improves the durability of the space, and does a fantastic job. It made the choice easy for me and only cost around $50 for 2 coats of around 480 sq feet of coverage.

Processed with Snapseed.

The paint I used. Purchased at Lowes. Unfortunately, it’s not marked as “scrubbable” but it seems like it will be durable enough.

*improperly installed surfaces like this can create air pockets, leading to hot spots, reduced reflection, or moisture buildup.

**lesson learned on new drywall for me- it sucks up a lot of paint. I went through two cans painting the walls and ceiling and I could probably do another coat.

4 thoughts on “Painting A Hydroponic Vertical Farm

    • Thanks for the question. That’s not the best idea for 2 main reasons. Primarily, it is more expensive without a corresponding increase in performance. In other words, your plants might grow a little better, but not better enough to justify the increased costs. I’ve tested this by growing plants in grow tents and other areas with reflective sidings and comparing the results to plants grown in other conditions. The second reason is that if you opt to try and save money by using actual aluminum foil (instead of something like a grow tent or an adhesive reflective foil that you can stick on walls like wallpaper), you actually run the risk of REDUCING reflected light if your surface isn’t applied correctly, allowing moisture trapping pockets to form between the foil and the wall that could act as a vector for disease/excess general humidity, and you will create hotspots on the wall.

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