Your bicycle may ride like a dream but look like a nightmare. Wear, tear and exposure to the elements is enough to make any bike need a face-lift. You can get that face-lift, or change a bike color that you no longer like, with a new bicycle paint job. Preparing and setting up for the paint job is as important as the paint job itself.
Preparing to paint a bicycle takes more than just grabbing a can of spray paint. To get the best results, you need to completely dismantle the bicycle and either strip or sand down any existing paint from the frame. Use a commercial paint stripper to remove the paint from the bicycle or a very fine sandpaper to sand it down. Sand off any rust. Fill any dents or dings with an auto body filler and sand it smooth while it's still wet. Put painter's tape around any areas you don't want painted, like the inside of the seat tube. Once the frame is ready for painting, apply a primer and let it set for 24 hours. Use a white primer to make the bike's new color the most vibrant.
One of the best ways to get even coverage is to use a paint sprayer, which is powered by an air compressor. Paint sprayers are notoriously messy, so prepare your location with plenty of drop cloths. Make sure the place where you are painting is well-ventilated and can hold your bike until you are completely finished with your paint job. Hang the bike frame so you don't have to touch or move it during the painting process. Hanging it also insures you'll get to all the nooks and crannies, will keep the paint sprayer at a consistent angle and won't mar the job by moving or touching any parts before the paint is fully dry. Pick a paint that holds up to the elements and is made for metal. Ideal choices include outdoor paints that double as rust protectors or paints made for painting cars.
One coat of color is usually sufficient for most bikes. Keep the paint gun at a consistent angle and length from the bike for even coverage. Let the paint dry for 24 hours and follow up with a clear coat for protection. For a durable layer of protection, the site Tandem Bicycle Central recommends very lightly sanding the paint with wet sandpaper before applying the clear coat, then lightly sanding the clear coat with wet sandpaper before applying a second coat of clear coat. Use a very fine grit sandpaper to do this job. Wait at least 24 hours before putting the bike back together to make sure the paint is fully cured.
Article Written By Ryn Gargulinski
Ryn Gargulinski is a writer, artist and performer whose journalism career began in 1991. Credits include two illustrated books, "Bony Yoga" and "Rats Incredible"; fitness, animal, crime, general news and features for various publications; and several awards. She holds a Master of Arts in English literature and folklore and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in creative writing with a French minor from Brooklyn College.