I used to automatically look for a new bike when mine was looking old.
Why didn’t I discover painting my old bikes sooner? It’s not that hard to do and saves a heap of money!
It’s also a great option if you want to add personality to your bike. The good thing is that you don’t have to hire a professional to do so. Painting bikes is hassle-free and accessible to anyone.
Follow these steps for how to paint bikes:
- Place the frame.
- Get painting.
- Dry and reassemble.
Sounds simple, right? There is a bit more to it than that, and I’ll guide you through each step soon.
First, let’s look at the benefits of painting a bike and which paints to use.
Why Paint Bikes
The most common reason to paint your bike is to give it a new lease of life. There’s no charm in an old-looking bicycle, unless you love the worn-out, rustic look.
Painting a bike frame is part of its refurbishment process. Don’t get a new bike every time yours looks worn out. Save money and polish it up with some paint!
Doing so is also a great way to express your personality. Everything we buy is an expression of our preferences, and these show our personality and tastes. Bicycles don’t offer many options to express personality off the shelf, but bike painting opens this possibility.
The alternative is getting a custom-made bike. I know this isn’t within most of your budgets, but you can completely style your bike to your taste with engravings and graphics.
If you’re handy with art and style, why not create your custom bike with paint and decal to your desire? Think of the savings!
Can I Paint My Own Bike?
Yes, you can most definitely paint your bike. In fact, I recommend you do it if you have the desire and patience. Learning how to paint bikes isn’t hard, especially with my detailed guide. But, most people are scared to do so.
Bike shops can do the job for you, and there’s truth in them being experts if you want the job done professionally.
But, most people don’t need the best job. They only need a good paint job. Differentiating between the two is difficult as most DIY paint jobs look professional. Because of this, be confident that painting your bike is an easy thing to do. It’s also much cheaper than going to a store.
The money saved can buy high-quality paint!
Which Paints To Use on a Bicycle?
A dry-powder coating is best for most bikes. It’s a reliable type of paint that’s easy to use. Beginners and professionals will get excellent value from this paint—it’s great for crisp finishes and restoring worn-out bikes.
Another reason for this paint’s popularity is safety. Most dry-powder coatings are acrylic paint compounds. These are one of the safest compounds for paint on the market. Unlike oil paints, acrylic ones feature water solvents, meaning they’re less likely to contain harmful toxins.
Choose a High-Quality Paint!
Your bicycle is your pride and joy. You wouldn’t want to decorate it with a cheap coating, and better-quality paints last longer, saving you from repeating the paint job anytime soon.
Since we expose our bikes to all kinds of weather conditions, the wear from a year of hot, cold and rainy weather shows more on poor-quality paint. Avoid this by buying premium.
As a precaution, don’t mix paint brands. Even if they’re all acrylic paints, the chemical compositions can make it tough for them to complement each other. They could also react with each other—ionizing agents can collide and start a reaction.
Also, consider the aesthetic you prefer. Some lean towards a subtle matte finish, while others prefer glossy and shiny finishes.
How to Paint Bikes: Step by Step Guide
OK, so now you’re set on painting your bike, here’s my ultimate guide on how to paint bikes.
First, here are some things to grab:
- Bicycle tool kit.
- Paint stripper.
- Safety glasses.
- Face mask.
- Powder coating gun (optional).
- Spray paint.
The steps are in chronological order, so work through it at your own pace.
Step 1: Preparation Stage
Like most jobs, good preparation improves the likelihood of success.
We’re focusing on painting the frame here, so you need to isolate the frame in a position that will be most conducive to painting.
1. Isolate the Frame
To ensure you don’t get confused about which part goes where, film this process. You can always watch the video if lost:
- Use a bicycle tool kit to remove the wheels, cranks, chain and brakes.
- Remove anything else that attaches to the frame—bottle holders and other accessories included.
- Place the nuts and bolts in a labeled bag. This will make it much easier to reassemble the bike.
2. Remove Stickers
After isolating the frame, you need to prep it for painting.
Many people forget about the original stickers until it’s too late, so remove them early on.
Stickers use a strong adhesive, so use hot air to reduce the stickiness. A hairdryer can help here.
3. Remove Paint from the Frame
Double-coating paint is not a good idea. The new paint won’t stick to paint properly, but you’ll get a better result by painting on the frame’s raw base.
We can use a paint stripper to do this.
Step 2: Frame Placement
After isolation, mount your frame in your work area. DIY’ers will have no trouble doing this, but I have some tips for the less-confident.
1. Picking Your Area
Your workstation should make painting easy for you, and it’s best to paint outside to help the paint dry faster.
It also ensures you don’t inhale any fumes, but painting outside isn’t an option for most people. If that’s you, ensure you’re in a well-ventilated room. The goal is to ensure airflow. If air circulation is good, you’ll feel more comfortable when painting.
In both conditions, it’s best to have newspapers and covers. These catch paint droplets and ensure you don’t make artwork out of the floor or ground.
You’ll need to temporarily step into a weather forecaster’s shoes. If it’s likely to rain, you’ll need to work indoors or at least undercover.
2. Mounting the Frame
The most important part of learning how to paint bikes is frame placement. When done well, it will ensure you have a professional-looking paint job.
A suspended frame makes it easier for you to operate, track progress and notice flaws. You can move around the frame to make sure you do a stellar job.
To mount the frame, find something to hang it on. This can be a roof rail or a simple tree branch.
If you’re painting inside, you can hang wires and ropes from the ceiling.
3. Mounting Alternatives
I prefer hanging the frame because you won’t have to touch it when painting.
Paint takes a while to dry, and if you have to consistently hold your frame to move it, you’ll never finish.
So, any mounting method that ensures you don’t touch your frame often is enough.
For example, you can clamp the frame on a b—make sure you’ve protected your table from paint droplets.
Another mounting method is to use a fastened pole—like a broomstick dug into the ground. This acts just like hanging if you slide the frame’s head tube onto the pole.
Step 3: Painting
Now we’re on to the fun part! At least, it was the most fun for me.
If you’ve done your prep work well and correct, the chances of messing up the paint job are super slim.
Get your paint in your hands and proceed with a professional’s confidence!
This part will take the longest since you need to layer several thin coats on top of each other. The alternative is having one thick layer of paint, but this won’t last as long.
To apply the coat, you want your spray paint to be about a foot away from the frame. This allows visibility and ensures drip marks don’t form.
Your hand should always be moving. Dwelling on one area won’t create that smooth finish. During this initial coat application, try covering the entire frame with the paint.
Having to always move your hand can be tiring. Most people don’t have enough arm or shoulder strength to last the process. If that’s you, have someone else take over when you get tired. If you think you’re fit enough to do the job, stretch well before starting. This will ensure you avoid unnecessary cramps.
- First off, apply the primer and let it dry. You only need one coat.
- Apply the first coat of paint until the primer coat isn’t visible.
- Let the paint dry for 15 to 30 minutes.
- Once dry, repeat the painting process two or three more times. The number of times you’ll apply coating depends on the paint type you chose. Some coatings are thicker than most and will need less application—check the guidelines on the canister. You don’t need to reapply primer more than once.
Step 4: Drying and Reassembling the Bike
You’re almost done!
This part requires a full day’s patience before riding your new masterpiece.
Take the time to rest and recover. You’ll be riding a brand-new-looking bike tomorrow, and it’ll feel like you’re riding a completely different one.
Dry for 24 Hours
Leave your bike frame to dry for 24 hours to fully ensure every single part is dry, and the paint won’t smear or rub off.
Resist the urge to touch or move your bike. First-timers often fail to do so, so distract yourself by planning a new bike route or snapping your project on social media.
Only Move the Frame if You Have To
Outdoor painters need to consistently check the weather since rain will stop the paint from drying and cause it to run.
If rain is a possibility, move your frame:
- Pass a broomstick or pole through the head tube.
- Hold the broom with one hand and hold the opposing end of the bike with the other.
- With caution, move your frame to another mounting spot.
Reassemble Your Bicycle
You’re now an expert on how to paint bikes, but keep that energy going while you reassemble your bike after the 24-hour wait.
Your bike should be completely dry now, so grab all the removed components and put them back together, step by step. Use the recorded video if you have to.
By now, your bike is complete. Well done!
FAQs on How to Paint Bikes
Should I Turn on My Heating To Dry My Bike?
You shouldn’t need to turn your heating on to specifically dry your bike. Normal room temperature is good, so there’s no need to transform your room into a sauna. 24 hours of natural drying will work fine; don’t try to use shortcuts by employing alternative heating methods.
How Many Times Should I Paint My Bike?
There’s no fixed amount of times you should paint your bike. Although frames are robust, paint removal can damage the frame, especially if you use a harsh paint stripper. To avoid this, ensure you pick the right color and paint the first time around.
Can I Paint My Bike Without Taking it Apart?
Yes, you can paint your bike without taking it apart, but I don’t recommend it. You’d have to carefully cover all the components with a sheet and tape. This can be frustrating to do, and it may be quicker to remove all components.
Learning how to paint bikes is a rewarding process, especially for those who love cycling.
Painting bikes helps restore our faithful and loyal bikes. It breathes new life into them. It also helps us express our vibrant personality.
You’re now equipped with the techniques needed to create your masterpiece, so what are you waiting for? Get painting!