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  1. #1
    Senior Member thehugoball's Avatar
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    frame painting on the cheap

    Does anybody have any recommendation for how to do a simple repaint job on a steel frame? My main questions are what to use to remove the old paint and how and what to use as a topcoat. As for the paint itself I've heard that pretty good results can be had by using Rustoleum if applied carefully and from an even distance. Any advice and links are great appreciated.
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  2. #2
    Spelling Snob Hobartlemagne's Avatar
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    chemical paint remover works wonders. get some protective gloves too- and some rough sandpaper for the stubborn bits of paint that wont give up.

    The first rule of flats is You don't talk about flats!

  3. #3
    Faith-Vigilance-Service Patriot's Avatar
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    I had a local sandblaster do my steel frame for $10. I then repainted it myself with regular primer, and used Auto-Air colors acrylic automotive paint with an airbrush. The airbrush does require a bit of investment though. However, the paint is beuatiful.

    Yes, you can use Rustoleum, but the final finish will never be quite as durable as a two-part automotive clear coat.

    I would suggest after painting with Rustoleum, go to your local auto paint store, and have them premix a spray can of clear coat for you. Then you can give it a couple coats with having to buy a paint sprayer. However, you have to go home and clear coat it right away, because it will harden in the can within a day. or even within a few hours. You can generally get home, and shoot one coat, wait about 15-30 minutes for it to set, then give it another coat before it sets up too much. Sometimes three coats are best, especially if it's a cheaper bike used for commuting or MTB'ing which gets alot of abuse. A thicker clear coat is best.
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  4. #4
    Senior Member Surferbruce's Avatar
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    i've done a couple rattlecan jobs, and they're mediocre at best. if thats the way you're gonna go i wouldn't bother stripping the old paint completely, just sand it and rough it up. then degrease the frame good and give it a couple coats of primer. follow it with a few color coats, letting it dry completely and wetsanding on between coats. follow that with a couple coats of clear and you'll have a decent looking job(from 6 feet away).
    problem is it'll chip easily and even if you have a magic touch up close is gonna look not so great. by the time you buy all those cans and sandpaper and tape and stuff you'll be halfway to a nice professional powdercoat job. i just had an alu frame powdercoated for 90$ and it came out beautiful. steel frames run under 80$ for a single color including blasting. if it's a bike you care about at all i'd highly suggest that route.

  5. #5
    Senior Member thehugoball's Avatar
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    you convinced me

    Where do I find this inexpensive powdercoating? Do you know of a place in the NYC area?
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  6. #6
    Dr.Deltron
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    Quote Originally Posted by Patriot
    I would suggest after painting with Rustoleum, go to your local auto paint store, and have them premix a spray can of clear coat for you. Then you can give it a couple coats with having to buy a paint sprayer. However, you have to go home and clear coat it right away, because it will harden in the can within a day. or even within a few hours. You can generally get home, and shoot one coat, wait about 15-30 minutes for it to set, then give it another coat before it sets up too much. Sometimes three coats are best, especially if it's a cheaper bike used for commuting or MTB'ing which gets alot of abuse. A thicker clear coat is best.
    I'm just curious, have you actually ever done that?

  7. #7
    Senior Member Surferbruce's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thehugoball
    Where do I find this inexpensive powdercoating? Do you know of a place in the NYC area?
    ask around at some bike shops and see who they recommend and get out the phone book and call your local powdercoaters and ask what kind of experience they have doing bikes.
    the place i used for instance does all the Intense brand bikes, so i figured they had a clue, and they did a great job.

  8. #8
    Senior Member thehugoball's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Surferbruce
    ask around at some bike shops and see who they recommend and get out the phone book and call your local powdercoaters and ask what kind of experience they have doing bikes.
    the place i used for instance does all the Intense brand bikes, so i figured they had a clue, and they did a great job.
    OK but what was the place you used??
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  9. #9
    Senior Member Surferbruce's Avatar
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    i used Olympic Powdercoating in Santa Ana Ca.
    Spectrum Powderworks is another well proven company too, i forget where they are.

  10. #10
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    There are powdercoaters doing industrial type work in nearly all large cities - its that popular. If you're not picky about color, and use a powder they're using for another job at the time, they'll coat a bike frame for low cost - 30-40 bucks. Be sure to plug any holes you don't want coated (or else you'll have to clean them out later).

    Chemical paint remover works to some extent, depending on paint. It totally removed paint from a cannondale (except for decal area). Barely touched the paint on an older trek. Sanding is a real PITA - not too bad on main triangle, but stays, bb, brake bosses and dropouts take forever. A dremel with sanding wheel will go a lot faster (be super careful on aluminum). Sand (or bead) blasting is the way to go if the price is right. BTW most powdercoat shops are setup to sand blast as part of prep work.

    As a few folks have already stated, rattle can paint jobs are very disappointing - lot a work, kinda crappy results. I found a textured paint to spray with - it's a flat finish with textured surface. The good thing about it is when i nick this paint at some point down the road, I can touch it up with an artist's brush and you can't even see the repair. Plus, the texture hides the little paint job defects you would see if you used a more common glossy rattle can paint. Obviously I'm not concerned with getting professional looking results - nothing fancy, just protecting the steel.

    http://www.rustoleum.com/CBGProduct.asp?pid=27

    PS - If rattle-can spraying an aluminum frame, you need a good primer. It's hard to get paint to stick to aluminum, even when you've prepped the surface well. Paint flakes off aluminum. It's painful to watch. Usually start's flaking off 10 minutes into bike reassembly. Steel works better with rattle can paint jobs.

  11. #11
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    Whats the difference betweek taking the bike to get powder coated compared to just getting it painted?

    I found a local place and want this done right, so all I need to do is ask to get it sand blasted and then powder coated in a color I want?

  12. #12
    I ride my bike Revtor's Avatar
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    The difference is that powdercoat gets baked on and ends up as a shell of polyester that is typically twice as thick, and easily twice as durable. Most places cannot get you small details with powdercoat. (lugs, pinstripes, etc.. Most industrial places probably wont even go for fades. If you find an automotive or motorcycle specialty place, then they might be more into doing custom things.


    get it sandblasted, seal off all threads and holes with hi temp tape (powdercoater will have this) they spray the powder on, then bake it at around 375.

    ~Steve (Needing this service within the month!)

    try andersoncustombicycles.com looks like the place to go for a good job.. if you get a quote, let us know the $$ thanks!

  13. #13
    Dr.Deltron
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    Quote Originally Posted by Freud
    I found a local place and want this done right, so all I need to do is ask to get it sand blasted and then powder coated in a color I want?
    Correct. And I would recomend paying for a clear coat of powder as well. Especially if the color you pick is metallic or pearl.

    Going rate ranges from $80-$150.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Patriot
    I had a local sandblaster do my steel frame for $10. I then repainted it myself with regular primer, and used Auto-Air colors acrylic automotive paint with an airbrush. The airbrush does require a bit of investment though. However, the paint is beuatiful.
    Did you put anything on top of the AAC paint???

  15. #15
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    I just repainted an old centurion accordo with automotive touch up paint in a can. Looked great but scrapes off with everything except my fingernail. It wasn't like that when I finished the color coat, but I waited a week or so before adding the clear coat. When I did, the paint cracked and it comes off much easier now. Be warned, you must add the clear coat right after the color coat, as soon as the directions on the can recommend.
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  16. #16
    Senior Member Nessism's Avatar
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    I paint my own frames using automotive paint (PPG) and while the stuff is NOT cheap, it is cheaper than paying a pro (since of course my labor is free). If painting more than one frame, some economy of scale comes in and makes the paint purchase more viable.

    Rattle can paint is not very durable and doesn't hold up to stone chips, and normal handling wear and tear. I'd go powder coat over rattle cans any day.
    Becareful buying/selling bike parts on-line. I learned the hard way. :(

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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nessism
    I paint my own frames using automotive paint (PPG).
    Where do you get the paint and how do you spray it?
    Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.

    -Abraham Lincoln

  18. #18
    Senior Member Nessism's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bailcash09
    Where do you get the paint and how do you spray it?
    Local auto paint retailer. PPG and Dupont paint can not be sold through the internet per distribution agreements (or so I'm told).

    Spray with an automotive touch-up *** and 20 gal. air compressor.

    Unfortunately, the smallest quantities are quite large and not bicycle friendly. For example, one quart of epoxy primer and corresponding hardener costs about $70 - enough paint for about 6 or more frames depending on how careful you are. Clear is about the same. Base coats are sold in smaller quantities but are VERY expensive depending on color - I paid $75 for one pint of red which is one of the more expensive colors.

    If you are just painting one frame you would be better off to send it off to Dr. Deltron. If you are painting several, and or like to do your own work, buying the paint is not a bad way to go. Spraying with a proper spray guy is a LOT easier than a rattle can. I'm far from a professional but have been able to achieve excellent results primarily because the paint is so nice and flows out like glass (makes hacks like me look good).
    Last edited by Nessism; 05-26-07 at 02:50 PM.
    Becareful buying/selling bike parts on-line. I learned the hard way. :(

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  19. #19
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nessism
    Local auto paint retailer. PPG and Dupont paint can not be sold through the internet per distribution agreements (or so I'm told).
    Does anyone know of any other good automotive-style paints that are sold in smaller quantities?
    Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.

    -Abraham Lincoln

  20. #20
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    Standard automotive paints like those from PPG are dangerous to work with. Be sure you read up before spraying. Safety gear, an air compressor and all the rest of the things you need will cost far more than paying a pro to shoot the paint for you.

  21. #21
    Dr.Deltron
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    DIY PAINTERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Here is a site that has just about everything you'll need. Sent right to your door!

    Don't thank ME, DirtDrop POSTED it! (in another thread)

    http://www.tcpglobal.com/kustomshop/

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by bailcash09
    Does anyone know of any other good automotive-style paints that are sold in smaller quantities?
    Auto Air Colors and House of Kolor base coats are both available in sizes as small as 2oz. I've purchased AAC in 4oz bottles from Tri City Paints (tcpglobal).

    Prepwork-->Primer --> Basecoat --> clearcoat.


    The smallest I've seen primers and clear coats available is in Quart Kits. The quart kits typically make about 1.5 to 3 quarts. These are true multi part automotive paints. You mix in an activator and sometimes a reducer right before spraying. HOK clears are expensive.



    2 part automotive paints contain isocyanates and many other nasty chemicals. Typically you need a fresh air respirator and a full body suit. You don't want to get over spray on your skin. Read the MSDS before using them!

    Water born paints like AAC are less dangerous. There is at least one waterborn automotive primer out there. I've yet to see any water born clear coats.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by Andrew*Debbie; 05-28-07 at 09:11 AM.

  23. #23
    Senior Member Nessism's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew*Debbie
    Standard automotive paints like those from PPG are dangerous to work with. Be sure you read up before spraying. Safety gear, an air compressor and all the rest of the things you need will cost far more than paying a pro to shoot the paint for you.
    True...but this forum is for/about framebuilding, as in DIY or ask a pro.

    I use a 3M charcoal mask when painting - costs $35. Removes all the bad stuff with the exception of when spraying catalyzed clears, for which one should have a fresh air mask. When spraying the nasty stuff I do it out in the open air when possible and don't linger in the haze. OSHA allows use of this kind of paint w/o fresh air as long as the spraying is done is a down-draft paint booth. Of course this kind of paint booth is not generally available but I take this to mean that as long as you are not breathing the fumes directly, the risk is minimal. Mind you, we are talking about painting a few frames a year, not on a professional basis. At any rate that's what I do. In the grand scheme I've thrashed my body way worse riding my bike than breathing in a few fumes past my paint mask.
    Becareful buying/selling bike parts on-line. I learned the hard way. :(

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  24. #24
    Ride or Die
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    Best bet is probably finding a local university art studio. They generally have all sorts of equipment, and are fairly generous with use of things like spray booths and sandblasting cabinets (just make sure to bring your own medium, because it can be expensive). Just talk to the person who runs the studio and ask. It can't hurt.

  25. #25
    Senior Member jschatz's Avatar
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    Epoxy spray paint for appliances can work OK. It's a hard finish and is super glossy (you have to spray just the right amount or it runs and sanding is a *****) and a good choice if you can live with black or white.

    I did some forks on a mountain bike and they are bulletproof.

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