Diy Custom Bicycle Frame Painting

A custom and unique paint job for your bicycle doesn't have to cost a fortune. Tips and instructions on how to paint your bike frame with very little money by doing it yourself.

A custom and unique paintjob for your bicycle doesn't have to cost a fortune. Follow these tips and you can transform your bike from blah to bling with very little cash by doing it yourself.

Before taking on this project, you should have a general idea of what you want your bike to look like when you finish. Look at magazines or bike websites for inspiration. While you are at the auto paint store, purchasing most of the supplies that you need, the representative can give you pointers on how to achieve the look you want with their particular product. Let's get started.

Complete disassembly is the first step in preparing your bike frame for paint. You need to remove everything including the crank assembly and the head tube assembly. If there is a chance that you will forget how to reassemble your bicycle, take pictures, before and during disassembly, which you can later use as a visual reference. Coat all bearings with assembly lube (available at most auto parts stores) and place in a sealed plastic bag. To avoid losing parts during teardown and overspray during the painting process, put all non-painted parts in a sealed storage container or cardboard box.

Now that your bike has been taken apart, you are ready to start prepping the frame (and any other parts included in your scheme) for paint. Remember: to achieve a durable and high quality finish, meticulous preparation is essential.

Remove all decals from your frame. Chances are, the decals on your frame have been there for years and are not going to come off easily. Heating them with a hair dryer will soften the glue, and make it a less difficult task. Some glue will remain after you remove the decal, but you will take care of that in the next step.

Use adhesive remover to get rid of any glue that did not come off with the decals. The remover initiates a chemical reaction with the glue, causing it to curdle and lift, while you simply wipe it away. As with all chemicals, follow safety precautions and usage instructions according to the manufacturer's label.

After your frame is free of all decals and glue, you are ready to tackle the existing paint. If your frame (or any other part you wish to paint) is carbon fiber, you will have to sand all the paint off by hand. Use the least aggressive sanding paper that will still allow you to remove the paint comfortably. Start with 200-grit sandpaper, but depending on your original paint, you may be able to go with finer.

If your frame is metal, you have three options: have your frame bead blasted, remove the old paint with a chemical stripper, or sand the old paint by hand. If you don't mind putting a little extra money into your custom paint job, bead blasting is the way to go. After having your frame blasted, you get it back ready to wipe down and paint.

For the more budget minded bicyclist, chemical stripper is a good way to remove the old paint. It can be messy and you may still have to sand some obscure areas by hand, but it makes quick work out of paint removal, without the higher cost of bead blasting, or the monotony of removing paint by hand. Sand the entire frame with 400-grit sandpaper after stripping, so the new paint will adhere properly.

Now that your frame is absent of all paint, use liberal amounts of adhesive remover to clean it thoroughly. Adhesive remover also doubles as a very good wax and grease remover. Work in sections and use a new clean rag to wipe dry the excess chemical.

After the initial degreasing and cleaning, you are ready to mask any areas that need to be protected from paint. Masking tape ranges in widths from 1/8 inch to 2 inch, but you will need nothing other than a roll of 1/8 inch and a roll of 1/2 inch. The cheaper brands of masking tape tend to lift at the edges, defeating their purpose. To save yourself some problems, buy name brand. The 1/8-inch tape is superb for tight contours and the 1/2-inch tape will fill in the gaps. At a minimum, mask the inner surface of both the head tube (tube on the front of the frame that houses the bearings for fork steering) and bottom bracket (the part of the frame that houses the bearings and crank axle). Paint, in those areas, will flake quickly and cause premature bearing failure.

Clean the frame again, as you did before, with the adhesive remover. Saturate the masking tape as little as possible, and from this point forward, you should not touch the frame with your bare hands. The natural oils in your skin would transfer onto the metal and, if painted over, would cause "fish eye"; paint rejection due to oil contamination of the surface.

Improvise a way to hang the frame at chest level inside your painting area. Hang, and then wipe the entire frame with a clean tack cloth--a soft and sticky rag sold at most auto paint stores--to remove any dust that may have settled on your bike.

Before you paint the frame, you will need to apply a primer coating. Aerosol cans, of primer, work well for small jobs such as this. Ask your local auto paint store to recommend a brand and type they have available. Wear proper safety equipment and follow the precautions and usage instructions on the primer label.

After the primer has fully cured, you can prepare it for paint. Perform the preparations for topcoat (color), according to the primer label, if any are necessary. The texture of your primer coat will reflect on the topcoat, so make sure that your primer is smooth before applying your color. You can wet-sand with 600-grit sandpaper to get it into shape. Clean again with adhesive remover, after wet sanding, and wipe the entire frame with a clean tack cloth.

Most auto paint stores have the capabilities to put any paint they sell into an inexpensive and easy-to-use aerosol can. When deciding on a color for your custom paint job, look at autos for inspiration. Make note of the particular make, model, and approximate year so your local auto paint retailer can mix it for you. If you find an interesting paint design that you want to try, practice on a scrap piece of tubing or a broom handle. Fades and other custom techniques are not as hard as they look.

Follow safety precautions and application instructions on the can label to apply the color coats to your frame. If you are using more than one color on your bike, start with the primary color. Allow the primary color to fully cure, then mask as needed. Scuff the exposed area, until it is uniformly dull, with steel wool. This will promote adhesion for the next color coating. Wipe the frame down with adhesive remover as before, followed by a clean tack cloth. Repeat until you have applied all desired colors to your bike.

To add depth and luster to your custom paint, you can sand the entire frame with 00 steel wool until the finish is uniformly dull, clean with adhesive remover and a tack cloth, then apply three medium coats of clear-coat.

Reassemble your custom and unique bike after the appropriate curing time.

© High Speed Ventures 2011