At some point, your bike will need a makeover and a fresh, new look. Can you use spray paint on a bike?
While there are plenty of paint options available at hardware stores, not all of these are suitable to use on bikes. Most bikers will usually opt for spray paint or airbrush paint.
Spray paint is a good option for painting your bike, especially to give it a more uniform look. It is much easier than brush painting, but you do need to keep certain things in mind to make your bike look good.
Painting a bike seems like a pretty straightforward process, especially when it comes to using spray paints. In reality, it is not as easy as it seems.
While painting our own bikes, we learnt a few things we wish we’d have known before we started. Fortunately, you won’t have to learn them the hard way, since we’ve put all this info in one place for you.
Painting Your Bike with Spray Paint
Again, painting a bike seems like it’s pretty easy – and it is, for the most part! As long as you have the right paint and you prepare the bike for painting, you’re good to go.
But many people don’t understand how to go about painting a bike, nor how time intensive it can be. In fact, many people make the mistake of thinking that spray paints can be sprayed directly onto the bike without any preparation, and end up ruining their bikes in the process.
The basic steps to painting your bike include:
- Cleaning the frame
- Removing rust
- Cleaning surface
Unfortunately, most people will skip all these steps and go straight from disassembly to painting – and some don’t even do that!
If you use your bike daily, you don’t necessarily want to hand it over to the professionals. Although they can do a much better job than you can, you may not have the time to go without your bike for too long.
If you go about painting your bike the right way, you can save up on a lot of repair and maintenance costs as well.
How to Spray Paint A Bike
Let’s go over the steps to paint your bike with spray paint.
Dismantling Your Bike and Removing the Parts
The first step to painting your bike is to clear the area you’re going to be working in. Spray paints can get very messy, so you want to make sure there are no valuables around.
Dismantle your bike and remove the parts one at a time. Before you do, make sure you know how to put them back together too. If you can’t be sure, it’s best to take a picture of the bike before you start removing parts.
Cleaning the Frame
At this point, you should start with cleaning down the frame. You can use a damp cloth to remove the dirt. Don’t worry too much about how clean it looks, because at this stage you’re simply trying to get rid of any debris that is stuck on your bike. You can also use some sandpaper and scrub the frame.
Under normal circumstances, this would remove the paint, and would be a terrible way to clean your bike. However, if you’re going for a repaint, then removing as much of the old paint as possible will help. Scrubbing with sandpaper won’t just help with that, but will also help remove the more stubborn debris and dirt stuck on the frame.
You can also use some grease to help you out.
After you’ve scrubbed the frame with sandpaper, you have to start on the rust. The sandpaper will have gotten rid of a lot of it for you, but there are always spots on the frame which refuse to clean themselves, no matter how hard you scrub.
In such cases, you can use chemical sprays to dissolve the rust and remove it. You may have to use a cloth to wipe this away and clear the frame. Don’t rush with the process because the chemical spray will also need time to dissolve the rust properly before it manages to clean the frame.
You can also use home-made rust removal agents, but chemical ones are best for guaranteed removal.
This step is not mandatory, but may be needed depending on the condition of your bike. Sometimes, after years of use, your bike may have gotten damaged with dents and holes. Ideally, you’d want to fix these if you’re repainting so your bike can look new.
Epoxy putty is an easy way to do this, though it takes a while to fully harden so you won’t be able to use your bike for about 12 hours. You can sand it further to make sure it merges with the frame.
At this point, you should once again clean the surface from any dust or grease from earlier steps by rubbing alcohol on it with a piece of cloth. Since the real painting starts right after this step, you should avoid touching the surface once you’re done with cleaning.
Priming the Frame
If you’re using 2-in1 paint, this step may not be necessary, but most spray paints aren’t 2-in-1. Priming the bike helps paint adhere to the surface regardless of what kind of paint it is and what material your bike is made of. The primer should be applied thinly and evenly. Ideally, you should do so in multiple thin coats to prevent any air bubbles or drops, and keep it smooth.
Finally, you can get around to painting it.
Painting the frame would be similar to the priming step. You should apply multiple thin coats to cover the frame in a uniform way and to keep any running paint drops from ruining the frame.
The benefit to spray paints is that they are easy to apply without having any running paint, and the coat is usually very uniform. Therefore, using spray paints is a go-to for many bike owners who want to repaint their bikes.
For both painting and priming, make sure you are in a well-ventilated area. These formulas will usually give off harmful fumes which can cause health concerns if you breathe them in too much.
Once you’re sure the paint is fully dried, you can reassemble your bike and it is ready to go! Make sure to compare the before and after of your bike. Besides the color and finish, it should be identical.
Even small mistakes in assembly can cause severe damage to your bike, so if anything looks off, make sure to look into it thoroughly before using your bike again.
Can You Spray Paint Your Bike Without Disassembling?
It is possible to spray paint your bike without taking it apart. In fact, the disassembling and reassembling is probably the most tiring and irritating part of painting a bike, but it is quite important – especially if you’re using brush paints.
But spray paints do make this process easier. You can use spray paints directly on the bike without dismantling it, but this is not recommended. For one thing, you wouldn’t be able to clean the bike frame as well as you would if you had taken it apart.
For another, you would have to use masking tape and plastic sheets to prevent areas you don’t want painted from getting paint on them. These are not very reliable, and even one leak can cause permanent damage to your bike.
About THE AUTHOR
Mountain biking is more than just a hobby for me - it's a way of life. I love the challenge and excitement that comes with it, and I'm always pushing myself to go faster and ride harder. Some people might think that mountain biking is dangerous, but I see it as the only way to live.Read More About Danny Lawson