If your bike’s frame has become scratched or it’s looking dull, you might not realize that you can paint it to give it a freshening up. This will save you money and ensure you can continue enjoying your bike.
Can you paint over your bike frame’s existing paint? You can do this, but you will need to sand the existing paint so that you prepare the metal for the new paint.
That said, painting your bike frame is easy. Here are the simple steps to follow so you can breathe new life into your trusty bike.
What Paint Can You Use on a Bike Frame?
If you want to paint your bike frame, for best results you need to choose the most appropriate type of paint. You need a primer, followed by a main coat of paint, and finally, a top coat to protect the paint.
Some of the best paints to use as the main coat for your bike frame include the following:
- Aerosol paint: This paint goes onto the frame smoothly. It can be rust-resistant, which is a bonus.
- Carbon paint: This type of paint is meant for frames that are made out of carbon, stainless steel, titanium, or aluminum. However, note that these paints are suitable for touching up areas of your bike frame without repainting the entire frame.
- Enamel paint: This paint contains resin that sticks to the metal effectively. This also helps to boost the shine and gloss of your paint.
How to Paint a Bike Frame in 11 Easy Steps
Step one: Take your bike apart
The first thing you need to do before you can paint the bike frame is to take the bike apart. This will give you easier access to the bike frame.
Remove the wheels, cranks, bottom bracket, derailleurs, brakes, chain, seat, handlebars, and the front forks of your bike so that you’ve got nothing but the frame.
Step two: Check the frame for stickers
The bike frame might have stickers on it. You want to take these off so that you can paint the frame properly.
You might struggle to remove these, so try this tip: use a blow dryer so that the heat will warm up the stickers and make it easier to peel them off.
Step three: Clean your bike frame
Now that your frame is ready to be painted, make sure you clean your bike before going ahead. This should take the form of a damp cloth to remove sand, debris, and dirt from the bike frame so that the paint will be applied more effectively.
You can also use a bit of WD-40 spray to eliminate glue residue that’s still present after you removed the stickers from the frame.
Step four: Remove the existing paint
If your bike frame has glossy paint on it, you should sand it down before applying new paint. However, even if your frame has matte paint or it’s currently bare, prepping it with the use of high-grit sandpaper is highly recommended.
This will smooth it down and make the surface stick to the paint more effectively. It’s a good idea to wipe the frame down again with a damp cloth and some soapy water after sanding it.
Step five: Cover up bike parts you don’t want to paint
A bit of painter’s tape should be applied to any parts of the bike you don’t want to get splashed with paint, such as the brake posts.
Step six: Hang your bike frame
To ensure you’ll paint every inch of your frame and make the painting process much easier, you should hang the bike frame.
Put rope through the head tube and hang it from a rafter or tree. If you have to work inside, such as in your garage, you can hang the bike frame from the ceiling.
Be sure that you have enough space to move around the bike frame so that you’ll paint it all over. And, if you’re painting it indoors, cover the floor with newspaper to catch any paint spills.
Step seven: Apply your paint
Spray painting your bike frame is easy. Just make sure that it can be used safely on the metal frame and choose a quality spray so that you get the best results. Choose a matte or glossy paint, depending on your personal preferences.
You shouldn’t mix together different spray-paint brands as these could interact negatively with each other.
When applying the paint, you should hold the can of paint at around a foot away from your bike frame. Don’t spray too much in one area as this will cause paint drips while also giving you an uneven finish.
Step eight: Let the first coat dry
You should leave the frame to dry for about 20 or 30 minutes. Then you can apply a second coat. Note that you’ll need to apply multiple coats of paint so that you get a uniform appearance.
Step nine: Apply your top coat
While you might think that you don’t need a top coat, this is essential to ensure that you protect the paintwork. This top coat will also help to prevent rust from forming on the bike frame metal.
You should aim to apply two or three coats of a clear top coat. Just make sure you give each coat of paint a chance to dry for about 20 minutes before applying another one.
Step ten: Leave the bike to dry
Now that you’ve applied the main paint and top coat, you should leave the bike frame to dry for 24 hours. Don’t move or touch it during this time.
Step eleven: Reassemble the bike
Once the bike frame has dried completely, you can reassemble the bike.
Can You Paint Your Bike Frame With Brush Paint?
If you want to paint your bike frame with brush paint, this is easy to achieve but it might not be the best option, especially if you’re painting your bike for the first time.
This is because spray paint will go on smoother than paint in a can. That said, you can paint your bike frame with a brush. Here are some tips to follow.
- Start with a primer: Apply a minimum of two coats of primer so that the paint will better adhere to the metal of the bike frame. Choose a primer product that will prevent rust from forming on the bike. If your metal is already showing signs of rust, applying a zinc chromate primer is a good idea.
- Apply the paint: The best type of paint for your bike frame is high-volatile paint, such as enamel paint. You should avoid using epoxy paint because it’s thick and takes a long time to dry. You should apply three thin paint coats to the frame, bearing in mind you need to let the paint dry between coats. Once you’re done, let the paint set for several hours before you apply a clear top coat. You should apply three coats of the top coat, remembering to let them each dry.
Finally, allow your bike to dry for 24 hours before you touch or move it.
Can You Powder Paint Your Bike Frame?
What about powder paint? This is another option you have at your disposal if you want to paint your bike frame, but it does take a bit of skill and you won’t be able to do it yourself.
Powder paint is when you apply a dry color pigment with an electric charge onto a grounded metal object. The powder makes use of compressed air and the electric charge ensures that the powder will stick to the metal.
How powder paint is applied to your bike frame is via a spray gun that’s filled with dry paint. After the bike frame is cleaned, it’s sprayed with this powdered blend. Then, it’s put in a large oven that will heat the bike frame to up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
This is an important step so that you can achieve an even, consistent result (via Epic Bicycles). It’s also why powder paint is best left to the professionals who will have the required equipment.
Can you use acrylic paint on your bike frame?
While acrylic paint is water-based so it won’t be harmful to your bike frame, even if it’s aluminum, acrylic gets easily scratched so it’s not a good choice for painting your bike.
How can you remove rust from your bike frame?
A mixture of vinegar and baking soda that has lime juice added to it can be applied to rusty parts of your bike. Leave it to work for 10 minutes, then scrub it with a steel wool pad.
If you want your old bike frame to look brand new again, you should consider painting it.
Whether you choose to paint it with paint from a can, a spray paint bottle, or you opt for the powder coating option, we’ve checked out all the alternatives so you can choose the best one for your bike.
Last Updated on July 27, 2023 by Danijel Cakalic