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  1. #1
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    Painting a Road Bike

    I'm going to be purchasing an older commuter road bike and was curious what the best method is for painting the frame? Spraypaint? That is what I've been thinking but wonder if there are better options.

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    It IS possible to use spraypaint and have very nice results. Preparation is the key here. One of the downsides to using spraycans is that the paint can be much softer and more prone to chipping than higher end paints that require hardeners. Although, a good thing about using spraypaint is that your frame can be easily touched up. Good luck.

  3. #3
    Member Tonedef131's Avatar
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    The cheapest way of doing it will definitely be the ol rattlecan.

    However, if you are wanting something durable that you won't ever have to mess with again you may consider powdercoating. I am in the process of building a commuter right now and I am hoping to find a frame for cheap because of scratched/chipped paint. Then I will sand it down, powdercoat it and ride it year round rain or shine.

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    powdercoating is good **** man.

  5. #5
    South Carolina Ed
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    I've repainted several bikes with good results using Rustoleum spray paints. They are better quality and more durable than most. Simply strip all of the old paint off; remove the rusty spots with a wire brush on a drill; paint over the small pits you can't get to with that stuff that stops rust; mask off the threaded surfaces; put a few coats of primer on, lightly sanding in between; spray a few thin coats of color; and then spray a few thin clear coats. The Rustoleum takes about a day to dry in between coats so be patient. You can do a little sanding in between coats to fix the drips and dust spots. It'll look great and last a long time.

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    Can you "oversand?" What do you use to sand down the bike before spray painting it? Also, could you maybe just spray over the old paint job? What is powder coating?

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    Have the frame media(sand)blasted and powdercoated. Extremely durable and reasonable priced. I had the frame, fork, and crank of my winter project done for $125.00.
    .

    If your heart is set on paint. PM Dr. Deltron.. He is a master.

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    Please donate to the Mark Reynolds Memorial First Bike Fund at www.markreynoldsfund.org

  8. #8
    Faith-Vigilance-Service Patriot's Avatar
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    Createx Auto Air colors are also very good, but you'll need an airbrush, and you'll need some two part automotive clear coat to finish.
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    What is "good" depends a lot on your expectations. If all you want is a bike that matches your kid's Radio Flyer in finish quality, rattlecans at Walmart or Pepboys will work just fine for you.

    Powder coating is very tough, but the type of finishes you can do is limited. Things like metalic, pearl, candy, or even clear coat is just about impossible to do right in an oven. You can rule out any type of custom painting too, except may as the very base solid color coat.

    The all around "Best Method" remains the paint ***. Painting a bike is actually much more difficult than, say painting a car or a motorcycle. Bike frames are mostly small diameter tubes intersecting at all kinds of odd angles. It takes more skill to lay on even, wet coats in 3D like that, and have no runs or orange peels, than a mostly flat car panel. I would suggest mastering the easier stuff first before trying to shoot a bike frame.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Volfy
    The all around "Best Method" remains the paint ***. Painting a bike is actually much more difficult than, say painting a car or a motorcycle. Bike frames are mostly small diameter tubes intersecting at all kinds of odd angles. It takes more skill to lay on even, wet coats in 3D like that, and have no runs or orange peels, than a mostly flat car panel. I would suggest mastering the easier stuff first before trying to shoot a bike frame.
    ^^^ This is why I use an airbrush. I dust on lots of fine coats. Takes a little longer, but much better control. I only use a bigger touch-up *** for the clear coat.
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    Quote Originally Posted by pinetreeforest1
    Can you "oversand?" What do you use to sand down the bike before spray painting it? Also, could you maybe just spray over the old paint job? What is powder coating?
    Depends on the substrate.

    If it is steel, and you sand down to bare metal, you need to treat the ferrous metal with bluing agent before priming, otherwise rust through will eventually happen.

    Aluminum is not quite as prone to rust as steel, so a bit of burn-through is okay.

    Ti is similar to Al in that it doesn't surface oxidize as readily as ferrous metals.

    Composites is not that big a deal either. As long as you don't sand into the actual carbon fiber weaves and break the fibers, you can refinish per the normal steps. There is usually enough of the matrix material (the epoxy resin that surrounds the fibers) for you to scuff sand before priming. Just don't go nuts with the sandpaper or scuff pad.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Patriot
    ^^^ This is why I use an airbrush. I dust on lots of fine coats. Takes a little longer, but much better control. I only use a bigger touch-up *** for the clear coat.
    I guess airbrush will work for solid colors and thinner type paint like acrylic lacquer - with lots of patience, of course. Thicker paints and anthing with metallic flakes will probably not draw through the tiny orifice very well.

    These days, you can pick up a fairly good quality small HVLP detail *** for less than $40. Add a decent size air compressor (2+HP min) and you can start shootin' paint.

    Okay... it actually takes a few more swipes of the credit card, but if you're serious about trying spray painting, that's what you can tell the wife...

  13. #13
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    I painted this with Duplicolor from the auto parts store. With clearcoat over the top it is durable enough. About 15 bucks for the paint.

  14. #14
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    Actually, using an airbrush, I find I get into cracks and crevices better than with the HVLP I was using. The HVLP had a tendency to dump paint in larger quantities (even when the volume control was turned way down), and was more prone to runs. Also, the airbrush allows me to use much less paint. A smaller spray with better control, I end up using less than half the paint I was using with an HVLP or even my touch-up ***.

    You can blue the steel, but you really don't need to apply a bluing agent. A good modern primer already has chemicals in it which reacts and bonds to the bare metal to create that microscopic layer of protection against corrosion. That is essentially what primer is for.

    Just sayin'.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Patriot
    You can blue the steel, but you really don't need to apply a bluing agent. A good modern primer already has chemicals in it which reacts and bonds to the bare metal to create that microscopic layer of protection against corrosion. That is essentially what primer is for.
    You most likely can get away with it, especially if the burn-thru blotches are small. But if it is my bike/motorcycle/car/truck/M1 A1, I wouldn't risk it.

    Actually, the main purpose of primers is not corrosions prevention. Rustoleum burned that into the mainstream consciousness, right, wrong or indifferent. Technically speaking, the sole purpose of primers is adhesion promotion. Straight primers really act like a sponge. Creates lots of surface area for the top coat to cling to. It is also why general purpose primers, by themselves make very poor rust proofers, as I am sure many a redneck with primer grey or primer maroon Camaros found out the hardway. The "sponge" also lets air and moisture through just as readily as top coat paint.

    You are right, these days there are a billion different primers, the major ones are:

    Primer sealers: provides a chemical and physical barrier between incompatible substrate and over coat.

    Primer surfacer: help surface build up for covering up sand scratches and other small surface imperfections.

    Epoxy primers: arguably the toughest prime there is. It seals the substrate so well, some people use it to protect underbody components like subframes and A-arms without a top coat. But it's expensive.

    Water-based primers: yes, Virginia, there is such a thing for auto finishing. I have seen it sprayed on bare steel. These are very high techy and very specialized. Won't find it on the stock shelves at your nearest auto paint store, but will become more and more mainstream as the EPA further clamps down on VOC.

    But I digress.
    Last edited by Volfy; 05-25-07 at 04:32 PM.

  16. #16
    South Carolina Ed
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    It's not hard to paint a bike with cans of spray paint. Be neat, prepare the frame carefully, go slow, use thin coats, let the surfaces get good and dry between coats, and lightly sand out any imperfections as you go with fine grit paper (>=200). You should be able to do the whole thing for less than $20 and the results will surprise you. It's easy to get fancy and mask off different tubes to paint them different colors. Talk to somebody at a store that sells stuff for painting cars.

  17. #17
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    volfy,

    Please digress. This sure beats the Campy vs. Shimano threads.

    I was going to say epoxy primer. My auto parts store carries it. Works great on steel, and even better for aluminum when regular primers don't like to stick. There is also a new one by 3M that supposedly oxidizes the metal when applied, and also acts as a color coat adhesive layer. Sort of a 2 for 1 deal, to make prep from bare metal easier, and is apparently much less toxic than an actual bluing agent. Some of those salts are pretty nasty stuff.
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  18. #18
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    No matter how you decide to finish it, find a good media blaster and have them strip the frame . $25-$30 or even more. Compare that to your cost of sandpaper, rust remover, time + improved finish quality - you'll find it's the cheapest money you've ever spent.

  19. #19
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    ^^^^ DO NOT SAND BLAST ALUMINUM!!!

    Steel is ok to sandblast though. I sandblasted my steel bike. For small jobs like bikes, it's best to use a chemical stripper, especially for aluminum or Ti. Sandblasting aluminum can and will destroy the metal. Glass beading of aluminum is ok, but is extremely time consuming for uro paint removal. I recently did my aluminum MTB frame with plain stripper from Walmart. It took three aplpications and a graden hose to wash off between coats. It took about 1 hour. Keep in mind, most of that time was waiting for the stripper to react, so several beers were consumed during this period. Those 12oz curls were alot of work.
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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by crazyb View Post

    I painted this with Duplicolor from the auto parts store. With clearcoat over the top it is durable enough. About 15 bucks for the paint.
    how did you get the trek letters on? are they decals?

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    I've also had some good results lately using Rustoleum's professional enamel. I sanded down the wifes bike to nearly the factory primer (over the course of a few days, it's a lot of work). with 220, and then gave it another sanding (taking a while again) with 400. I used Rustoleum self etching primer, two coats 30 min apart in the summer heat, then started the enamel about an hour in. I applied about 3 - 4 coats of the pro enamel ~ 45 minutes apart. I let it hang in the heat of the day, then brought it inside at night when the humidity was high. It took nearly a month to fully harden, but I honestly believe the results are as tough as the paint from the factory at this point.

    The cost was low enough, but the time was very high. if you have a preference of time over money it's best to have someone else do it.

  22. #22
    don't misunderestimate me BoSoxYacht's Avatar
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    I love seeing 7 year old threads pop up again.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BoSoxYacht View Post
    I love seeing 7 year old threads pop up again.
    Whoops, I only saw the last date posted.

  24. #24
    don't misunderestimate me BoSoxYacht's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KBentley57 View Post
    Whoops, I only saw the last date posted.
    If you ever need to paint a bike black or clearcoat one, Eastwood 2k is the way to go. It's a 2part paint in a rattle can, and it works great.

  25. #25
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    with lots of prep work, spray paint can be great, but you have to have patience (allow enough time between coats). Any shortcuts you take during prep work will surface in the end.

    I've spraypainted motorcycles with good luck. Lots of sanding, cleaning, priming, sanding, cleaning, painting, waiting, etc. etc. The problem with the bike is reaching the small crevices where tubes meet (or lugs if the bike has) when you first start sanding it down.

    I'd suggest sand blasting the paint off something like that, but if you're paying someone to do that then you may as well pay to have it powdercoated. Spraypaint only really makes sense when you can do it yourself start to finish.

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