Choosing the Right Cleanroom for Your Next Project

February 27, 2024

Tim Tench

Senior Operations Director

What is a cleanroom?

A cleanroom is a space that maintains a very low concentration of airborne particulates. Cleanrooms are commonly required for scientific research and production and in nanoscale industrial production environments. Most of these controlled environments protect the products produced, such as electronic devices, semiconductors, pharmaceuticals, and medical equipment.

In the not-too-distant past, selecting a cleanroom type was primarily driven by cost and time considerations. But the construction landscape has recently evolved through changes in labor rates and the emergence of dozens of Modular and Portable On-Demand (POD) cleanroom manufacturers. Today, the best cleanroom system for your project should consider many variables, in addition to time and money. In this blog, we’ll explore at a high level the various current options and factors to consider for your next cleanroom project.

Current Options

1. Prefabricated Cleanrooms

Prefabricated cleanrooms, now commonly referred to as PODs, date back as far as the 1960s. PODs have gained additional popularity with recent advancements in technology. These cleanroom PODs can be fully constructed off-site, undergo performance testing prior to delivery, and even arrive pre-certified. In many cases, they provide single connection points for chilled water, mechanical, and electrical, making these units plug-and-play.

2. Modular Cleanrooms

Modular cleanrooms, like PODs, have been around just as long as their prefabricated counterparts. These units are typically designed by a manufacturing firm, offer customization to varying degrees, and ship as a ready-to-assemble kit. They often require additional field work for mechanical and electrical systems. Assembling, wiring, and ducting modular cleanrooms is performed in the field by the respective trades.

3. Stick-Built Cleanrooms

Built per the design of architects/engineers, stick-built cleanrooms are built on site using materials like metal stud framing and wallboard. Depending on cleanliness requirements, walls may consist of gypsum (drywall) with an epoxy coating or be clad with fiberglass or metal sheeting.

Now that we know our options, let’s discuss the factors to consider for your next cleanroom decision.

Factors to Consider

Setting — Ground-Up vs. Existing Building

Ground-up projects allow for greater flexibility to customize the building to accommodate the desired cleanroom. In this setting, PODs typically allow for faster deployment. The new building structure can be designed to support the POD’s required specifications, including mechanical and electrical connections. While your builder is busy pouring foundations, erecting steel, and drying in the new building, the POD manufacturer will be hard at work in their facility building, testing, and pre-certifying your cleanroom.

When timed appropriately, the POD will arrive just as the building is ready for installation. Because the POD arrives fully functional, the time required from the beginning of installation to certification is greatly reduced, benefiting the project’s overall duration.

In contrast, adding a cleanroom to an existing building requires assessing structural compatibility, which may increase project costs. A cost-benefit analysis will help to determine if a self-supporting modular or stick-built cleanroom is a more economical option compared to a self-supporting POD.


While PODs offer flexibility in size and shape through the application of multiple units, larger cleanrooms may require stick-built or modular construction due to economies of scale.


If you have a cleanroom design and a cleanroom-ready existing space, in most cases, stick-built cleanrooms will provide the fastest and most versatile construction method. But if feasible, standard-sized prefabricated cleanrooms readily available from POD manufacturers can offer an even faster solution.

Durability and Life Cycle Costs

Epoxy-painted, gypsum-clad cleanrooms require continued maintenance, making them the least desirable to facility managers. But keep in mind that a stick-built or modular cleanroom can be constructed using coated metal panels with plastic welding similar to PODs.


If you are leasing your facility, a POD cleanroom is a great choice because it can be easily moved in its entirety and reset in a new location with relative ease. However, reinstallation challenges when relocating, such as missing or damaged parts, need to be considered.

In conclusion, selecting the right cleanroom type for your next project involves careful consideration of various factors, including setting, size, speed, durability, life cycle costs, and mobility requirements. Whether you opt for prefabricated PODs, modular construction, or stick-built cleanrooms, each option offers distinct advantages and disadvantages.

Cleanroom PODs:

Modular Cleanrooms:

Stick-Built Cleanrooms:

As the industry continues to evolve, it is crucial to stay informed and consult with a trusted construction professional to determine the most suitable cleanroom solution for your next project’s specific needs. For further information on cleanroom construction and how BE&K Building Group can assist you, don’t hesitate to reach out to Tim Tench at

Our experienced team is equipped to provide tailored solutions and comprehensive support throughout your project’s journey. Contact us today to explore how we can assist in achieving your cleanroom objectives.