Hey I saw your paint job on the #bike thread on tumblr.

Hey I saw your paint job on the #bike thread on tumblr. Looks awesome! I was tryin to go for a chrome or silver for my own. How did you do it? (paint type, coat, precautions)? Thanks in advance and great blog!

Hey man, thanks for the kind words. I’m not an expert by any means but painting comes down to these steps:

  1. Prep
  2. Prime
  3. Paint
  4. Polish

(The 4 Ps! Watch as this non-expert pares this down to 4 easy steps.)

Prep: The frame I have was painted by a previous owner (poorly) so there was a total of four coats on it already. I took everything off of the bike except the bottom bracket. I hardly had to mask anything and it was easy to paint the tight spaces, but I needed some special tools. I spent some time stripping it down to bare steel, which took a lot of elbow grease with some stripper and steel wool. If you just have the factory paint job you can get away with scuffing it up with some 400 grit sandpaper. I masked off the brake mounts, the inside of the seat downtube, anything threaded and the bottom bracket and spindles. I hung the frame by a dowel through the headtube with some ropes from the rafters in a garage. The fork fit onto the end of the dowel. If you don’t disassemble the bike, I’ve seen some people turn it upside down and mount the seat tube on a vertical pipe of some sort. Wipe everything down with a clean damp rag or a tack cloth to make sure it’s free of dust and oils.

Prime: Grab a few cans of grey primer and do a bunch of light coats. Do one, wait ten minutes, do another, wait, then one more. Let it cure for a day or two. If you’re painting over a stubborn colour you’ll want to repeat the primer step so it blocks it.

Paint: I sprayed a separate colour and clear coat from spray cans formulated to be used on metal surfaces. I sprayed some light coats of white, waited, and then one heavier coat to get a nice gloss. It’ll take some experimenting to see how slow you need to move the can before it’s coating enough. Too fast and you’ll get rough “orange peel”, too slow and you’ll get nice glossy drips. I followed that process twice for the white colour coat and then did a wet sand with 1000 grit paper. This will help remove any rough spots or “orange peel” texture before you move to the clear. It’s just a light wet sand though, so don’t use too much pressure. Be prepared to do some touch up spraying if you go through the colour coat. (Or ignore it like I did.) Finally I sprayed two coats of glossy clear.

Polish: Today I went and bought some 2000 grit paper and some polishing compound so that I will be able to finish the bike once the clear coat cures. The sandpaper will remove any orange peel in the clear but leave you with many fine scratches. The polishing compound will take out those scratches and leave you with a nice glossy finish.

Ta-da! Send me a photo when it’s done.