Paint Your Frame

Painting a Bicycle How-To

Spray Paint Bicycle Frame

Painting a bicycle frame is a simple way to spruce up an old bike. It's amazing what the human eye picks up: any nicks, scratches, impurities or discolorations are very noticeable. 

Unfortunately, learning how to paint a bike frame is a complicated procedure, and even if you can find a bike shop willing to do a paint job for you, chances are it will cost hundreds of dollars.

If you're planning to learn how to paint your bicycle yourself, these are some great DIY tips to make sure you do it right.

Sand On, Sand Off

How To Paint Your Bicycle

Sanding properly is the most important part of learning how to paint a bicycle frame. You want to make sure that you rid the frame of every trace of the former paint. Any little bits that remain, rough areas or bumps will show up once you've painted, and it can look terrible. 

Likewise, your custom bicycle paint job won't look so good if you've got bits of the old color scheme peeking through your paint. Make sure that you eliminate every trace of the former color. Custom bicycle painting works best with a clean slate. 

You can get specialized paint stripper to do the sanding work for you. Where I'm from it's called aircraft stripper, and it'll take the old paint off in no time with very little effort. Just be careful where and how you apply it, since it's caustic and that can be dangerous.

3M 9005NA 9-Inch by 11-Inch Aluminum Oxide Sandpaper, Assorted
Amazon Price: $2.69 $0.01 Buy Now
(price as of Sep 4, 2013)

Tape It Up

Painting and Priming a Bicycle Frame

In pianting a bicycle frame, you need to cover up or remove anything you don't want coated in paint. So in other words, disassemble your whole bike, and protect the bits you can't remove.

This may seem like too much work, but you cannot protect your bike properly from overspray without taping and disassembling. It can ruin your components. Picking bits of paint out of a derailleur is not fun. It's part of the custom bicycle paint process.

Make sure that you label your parts as you remove them, so you can put it back together in the correct order. A diagram as you disassemble might help too. If you're building a bike from scratch anyway, this is a good opportunity to paint.

Primed and Ready

Priming Your Custom Bicycle Paint Job

If the title didn't make this obvious, then here goes: prime your bike first! It makes a big difference in the quality of the paint coat if you lay down a coat of primer first. You can find this in rattle can variety too. A good quality custom bicycle paint job will always have a primer coat put down first. 

It ensures that your custom bicycle paint job is nice and even, with no color discrepancies. Even if your frame is sanded down to bare metal, not having a coat of primer can make your color look very zebra. 

Also, primer is a perfect surface for the paint to sit on. It helps make sure that your paint will dry evenly and not run, streak, pit or crack. 

Layer Your Coats

Painting Your Bicycle Frame

how to paint a bicycle spray paint cans

Ok, I'm going to be a bit perfectionist here. As you add your custom bicycle paint job, do a few layers of your color.

Between each coat leave time for it to dry, and sand down any runs, drips or bumps in the paint. Spray paint on a bicycle is not perfect. It's a funny shape to paint, and you're bound to get some drips and runs. 

Use a very fine grit sandpaper, as course grit will rip your paint up and you'll have to start from scratch.

Keep in mind that spray paint doesn't have the greatest hardeners, so unless you use a heat gun or hair dryer on it, it'll take a while to cure. Your paint may be tacky even after a month. 

Additional Tips

-Use a good quality clear coat on your frame once you're done with the color, and it will help protect your paint job and give the bicycle a nice shine too.

-If you use an undercoat of silver or gold paint, and then use a bright color over top, it can give a bicycle a sort of depth and luminescence. For example, use red over silver, and you'll get a candy apple effect.

Rust-Oleum 7710830 Bright Coat Metallic Color Spray, Gold, 11-Ounce
Amazon Price: $5.99 $5.00 Buy Now
(price as of Sep 4, 2013)