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Painting a helmet

Old 04-10-14, 06:53 PM
  #1  
j mazz
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Painting a helmet

has anyone painted a helmet? i have the Giro Aeon, it has that shiny, slick plastic shell. It's all white and i want to color it with some orange and blue. regular spray paint seems like it would bead up. any hobby paint that would work and still keep that shiny look?
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Old 04-10-14, 07:01 PM
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a more important consideration than aesthetics. is what paints will chemically react with the helmet. embrittling or melting the styrofoam would be bad
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Old 04-10-14, 07:05 PM
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+1, you have 2 concerns.

1- Good adhesion on the shell, without chemically damaging it.

2- Even more serious is the complication of overspray hitting the exposed styro in the cutouts.

I'm sure it could be done, but it has to be done right. You might do better asking on the helmet thread in A&S. They need a break from all the bashing of non-helmet earers.
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Old 04-10-14, 07:07 PM
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Right, I would tape it off good. It looks to be glued on the styrofoam -nice to remove it, paint it, then glue it back on. But I'm afraid it would damage it.
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Old 04-10-14, 07:09 PM
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The shell could easily be damaged by the paint solvent. As a plastics chemist I strongly advise against painting the helmet.
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Old 04-10-14, 07:12 PM
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interesting. i recently bought an airbrush setup intending to use it for model railroading.
my helmet is kindasorta beat up and i thought i might practice on it first.
i just used waterbased acrylic paints and i'm working on a spiderman theme. red w/ blue visor, and black cobwebbing.
the plastic was slick and shiny, so i scuffed it up with 240 grit sandpaper (all i had), then washed it with
dish soap, rinsed well, and let dry overnight.

when finished i'll spray some matte overcoat on it. if it gets beat up some more that's ok.

the paint booth is a large box, a window fan, and dryer vent hose.

what fun it was! ask me for some tips i learned the hard way.


the webbing is done. looks rough, but every nuclear mutated spider has to do his first web.
after looking at all the posts, i'd like to ask how long helmet warranties are for? a year?
if yours has expired, go for it!
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Old 04-10-14, 07:15 PM
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Alrighty then. Hey, I can't see it when it's on my head anyway!
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Old 04-10-14, 07:19 PM
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Originally Posted by j mazz View Post
Alrighty then. Hey, I can't see it when it's on my head anyway!
And don't forget about painting the helmet voiding the warranty.
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Old 04-11-14, 05:18 AM
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RCGroups.com is an RC forum and in the foam electric sections would probably be the easiest place to search for what paints work well with foam. RC is probably the largest hobby that would be painting EPS, EPP, and EPE foams. If I recall, Walmart or Michael's has a good selection of paints that are safe for foam. Not sure how they would work on the plastic though as in RC, you are purposely painting the foam where with a helmet, you are only worried about the overspray and are purposely painting just the plastic.
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Old 04-11-14, 08:18 AM
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I haven't tried it myself, but you might be able to paint it with plastic primer.

You'll lose the shiny look of the helmet (which doesn't matter since you'll need to have sanded it before adding the primer) so you'll need to apply lacquer after you've painted it your chosen colour.

You could always buy a cheap helmet and try it. Post your results!
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Old 04-11-14, 08:25 AM
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If I was going to paint a helmet, would be looking at polycarbonate specific paint, like Tamiya RC car paint, that said, given all the masking, and the possible damage to the polystyrene I wouldn't do this, and if you look at helmet manuals (sticker inside them), they always say don't paint / put stickers on them.
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Old 04-11-14, 08:30 AM
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dont do it

voids the warranty
potentially and very easily ruins the helmet by dissolving the foam
and the foam is the part that protects you

if you are going to do it
and can figure out a way to mask it that completely eliminates the possibility of getting any paint on the styrofoam
try pactra paint
made by testors
my experince from racing rc cars years ago has shown that it bonds perfectly to polycarbonate
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Old 04-11-14, 08:44 AM
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That's a $250 helmet. Even if you get paint to stick, it's going to look crappy. You are better off just buying a helmet with the colors you like. I think Giro used to make one with similar colors is a Rabobank team design you can probably find
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Old 04-11-14, 09:01 AM
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The best thing to use is an adhesion promoter, like the one Dupli-Color makes.
https://www.duplicolor.com/products/adhesionPromoter/

It makes paint stick to plastic parts without affecting the plastic.

Ian
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Old 04-11-14, 09:19 AM
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Only my Fiberglass motorcycle helmet , in the mid 70's..


volatile solvents particularly those in the spray can, the ones that evaporate, will make the EPS foam break down.


A hardshell bike/skate helmet , if you mask off everything but the shell you may get away with it ..

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Old 04-11-14, 11:42 AM
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The best folks to ask would be the manufacturer, but we know what they will say.
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Old 04-11-14, 11:55 AM
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Originally Posted by j mazz View Post
has anyone painted a helmet? i have the Giro Aeon, it has that shiny, slick plastic shell. It's all white and i want to color it with some orange and blue. regular spray paint seems like it would bead up. any hobby paint that would work and still keep that shiny look?
I bet there is some kind of tape or applique that would give you the effect you want, with out solvent based materials. Or the rubberized coating that peels off, like wheel dip.
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Old 04-11-14, 11:57 AM
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Originally Posted by jimc101 View Post
If I was going to paint a helmet, would be looking at polycarbonate specific paint, like Tamiya RC car paint,...
Me too. With care it's possible to do a very good professional looking job. I wouldn't be concerned about the integrity/safety of the helmet, but you should proceed only at your own risk.
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Old 04-11-14, 01:07 PM
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Why not just take off the shell?? Then glue it back on? I doubt you'll be able to not get any paint on the helmet itself
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Old 04-11-14, 01:44 PM
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I just got a Bontrager Specter that came in flat black and grey. Loved the fit but didn't care for the colors but didn't like any of the others. I bought some automotive pinstripe and added that to the helmet. Came out really nice and you can't tell it didn't come that way.
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Old 04-11-14, 02:20 PM
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The shell is integral to the protection. It is not just the foam. The shell supports the foam. Do not dick with it PERIOD. Why would you pay that kind of money for a helmet just to ruin it. All these guys telling you how to do it, it's not their head!

And the adhesive on stickers, pin stripes, decals and such can be just as damaging as paint. As I said already , don't do it.
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Old 04-11-14, 02:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Astrozombie View Post
Why not just take off the shell?? Then glue it back on? I doubt you'll be able to not get any paint on the helmet itself
Like most road helmets other than the real cheapies, these are "in molded" which means the polystyrene foam is expanded and molded into the shell, so that they're adhered together. The shell can't be removed without taking some of the foam with it.
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Old 04-11-14, 02:26 PM
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Originally Posted by rpenmanparker View Post
... Why would you pay that kind of money for a helmet just to ruin it...
I've ruined most of the helmets I've bought, not by painting them but rather by ramming them into the road or dirt with my head.
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Old 04-11-14, 02:27 PM
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Originally Posted by rpenmanparker View Post
All these guys telling you how to do it, it's not their head!
I think the end advise just about everyone has given is don't do it, but if the OP is going to, there are optimum ways to get the best results by using specific paints
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Old 04-11-14, 02:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Looigi View Post
I've ruined most of the helmets I've bought, not by painting them but rather by ramming them into the road or dirt with my head.
An allowable exception. And that does explain a lot.
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