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Frame Painting: 1K or 2K Clear Coat?

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Frame Painting: 1K or 2K Clear Coat?

Old 07-12-22, 09:43 AM
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PoorInRichfield
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Frame Painting: 1K or 2K Clear Coat?

When painting a frame, which type of clear coat do you typically use... 1K or 2K?

It's my understanding that the 2K clear coat is much more durable as it's a two-part polyurethane coating. However, it's also apparently more toxic when spraying (of some concern to me), a little more expensive, and is it perhaps overkill for a bicycle frame? I'm currently painting a steal frame and trying to decide which type of clear I should purchase for when my project gets that far. Note that I'm using spray cans, not an airbrush.
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Old 07-12-22, 03:42 PM
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I don't know about the "much more durable" aspect. Pretty much anything that will scratch 1X paint will also do so to 2x paint. As far as health concerns go, with common sense one can reduce a lot of the exposure. Venting, wind/draft direction control, smart part holding method, gloves, glasses, no distractions, the list goes on.

Unless one is applying decals the need for a clear coat is debatable. Andy
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Old 07-12-22, 06:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Andrew R Stewart View Post
Unless one is applying decals the need for a clear coat is debatable. Andy
Thanks. Yes, I'll be putting on replica decals and would like a clear coat over them.
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Old 07-12-22, 11:43 PM
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Let me help my buddy Andy out with a bit more explanation. There are a couple of different types of paint pros use when painting a bicycle frame. It used to be that almost all frames were painted with a urethan or polyurethane enamel. The brand name most commonly used was Dupont Imron. Both the color and the clear were the same chemical composition. Urethan enamel is an epoxy type of paint. This paint was developed for airplanes if I understand it right. A polyurethane clear coat is always your best choice for durability and gloss. Bicycle paint is subject to a lot of abuse and you want the toughest available. If you find subject threads by DIY painters, you will read a lot of complaints about durability when they tried whatever instead of polyurethane enamel. You don't need to join this sad and dissatisfied group.

Automobile paint is also available in a base coat/clear coat version. These base coats are not durable at all but they have the advantage of being very thin. This allows for for several colors not to have a thick edge when doing 2 or more colors. This works well for painting decals. There is a variety of glamor colors (like pearls) that are base coats. Once the base colors are applied, they are protected with urethane or polyurethane clears. Yea the same stuff as Imron.

If you take reasonable precautions, you don't have to fear using urethane enamel. For sure you want a charcoal respirator. They are widely available. You also want good ventilation so you are not constantly standing in fumes. One of my colleagues who was a master painter used to paint outside letting the breeze take the fumes away.

I recommend using a catalyzed primer to start. After sanding it sooth, apply your color coats. If you are using a base coat system then you will apply a couple (at least) of clear coats over the thin base color coats. Then your decals can be placed. I will usually put on multiple coats of clear over the decals so they can be sanded smooth and not cut into either the color coats or decals. The entire frame is wet sanded with 600 grit and then the final clears are applied. Since you won't be using a professional gun, you will probably want to rub out the final clear to a higher smoother gloss. That is a separate subject.
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Old 07-13-22, 05:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Doug Fattic View Post
If you find subject threads by DIY painters, you will read a lot of complaints about durability when they tried whatever instead of polyurethane enamel. You don't need to join this sad and dissatisfied group.
Excellent information, Doug! I had painted a frame decades ago and the one thing I remember is that it chipped way too easily and I felt it wasn't worth my time. That frame had no clear coat on it.
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Old 07-19-22, 02:37 AM
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I recommend 2k clear as well. Andy is probably right that it's only a bit tougher, but it's like puncture-resistant tyres: enough is as good as a feast. Spray.bike with its own clear coat gets chipped off during normal winter riding on a bike without fenders. This is not acceptable. I completely stripped and repainted that frame recently with the same colour and 2k clear. It's now glossy and lovely and easy to clean (but I haven't tried it in the winter yet).

Anyway these are my tips:

1. Let the 1k colour coat dry properly, like several days indoors or somewhere hot, before putting the clear on
2. Make sure you buy the glossy one if that's what you want (it has 88E on the can). They also do a satin and a matt.
3. Only spray it outside and use a respirator as well. Safety glasses also a good idea because it gets in your eyes depending on the wind.
4. Don't get any on your or your neighbour's car.
5. If/when bugs get into it just leave them there. This is better than trying to get them out when it isn't dry yet.
6. You can build up the bike carefully after 48h but I wouldn't clamp it in a workstand yet-- it can take a month to reach full hardness.

My favourite for the paint underneath is Montana Gold primer and colour. But spray.bike is OK too if you keep the can nice and close to the work (or you get annoying powder everywhere).
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Old 07-30-22, 08:22 PM
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Originally Posted by guy153 View Post
I recommend 2k clear as well. Andy is probably right that it's only a bit tougher, but it's like puncture-resistant tyres: enough is as good as a feast. Spray.bike with its own clear coat gets chipped off during normal winter riding on a bike without fenders. This is not acceptable. I completely stripped and repainted that frame recently with the same colour and 2k clear. It's now glossy and lovely and easy to clean (but I haven't tried it in the winter yet).

Anyway these are my tips:

1. Let the 1k colour coat dry properly, like several days indoors or somewhere hot, before putting the clear on
2. Make sure you buy the glossy one if that's what you want (it has 88E on the can). They also do a satin and a matt.


My favourite for the paint underneath is Montana Gold primer and colour. But spray.bike is OK too if you keep the can nice and close to the work (or you get annoying powder everywhere).
Montana is an acrylic, isnít it?
Iím keen to use the Montana black-purple, but after reading Doug Fattic s post, Iím thinking I should look for a urethane base. I think. Iím not sure. AnywayÖ.
Montana gold was recommended to me by a local Detroit bike shop owner/builder/artist - with Eastwood epoxy clear.
Iím still getting the frame set ready for primer, so this is a helpful thread.
thanks.
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Old 07-31-22, 03:18 AM
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Originally Posted by mrv View Post
Montana is an acrylic, isnít it?
Iím keen to use the Montana black-purple, but after reading Doug Fattic s post, Iím thinking I should look for a urethane base. I think. Iím not sure. AnywayÖ.
Montana gold was recommended to me by a local Detroit bike shop owner/builder/artist - with Eastwood epoxy clear.
Iím still getting the frame set ready for primer, so this is a helpful thread.
thanks.
Yes Montana Gold is acrylic. Doug Fattic knows much more about these things than I do. But the Montana stuff goes on well compared to spray.bike (also acrylic) which can leave a lot of powder lying around on the BB shell area which drops down from the other tubes as you're spraying them.

The last two frames I sprayed I went over the whole frame with 400 grit and then acetone. Not sure if the 400 grit helped but I think it might have done. The tubes are often quite shiny from the factory and I think you want to take that shine off to avoid runs in the primer (which are of course visible through the top coat).
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Old 07-31-22, 07:30 AM
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Good surface prep usually is to slightly roughen the surface so any coating can have a better "bite" and not flake/scrape off as easily. Runs and drips are about that coating's application. (As in how heavy one is spraying on the paint), not surface condition. Andy
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Old 07-31-22, 10:21 AM
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I just finished painting a bike..the second of two bikes that I've painted, so far. I use PPG auto paints loaded into rattle cans. This offers you hundreds(thousand+?) of colors. Auto parts places that sell paints will have a machine to load spray cans. I use Buy-Right Auto Parts in Racine. The basic process (for me..there's many) is 2k SprayMax primer, base coat color, 2k SprayMax Clear Glamour topcoat in high gloss. This yields terrific results for about the same as you'd pay for a powder-coat job and looks MUCH nicer. Easy paints to work with. Wear a chemical mask. Spray around 70 degrees and 50% humidity, outside preferably with little to no wind..pick your days. Make sure the various paints you use are compatible or you'll get to strip and paint the bike twice.

Just took a few not so great phone photos. Frame and fork looks much better in person. I didn't do the sanding between coats as Doug suggests. Doug's process is the correct way to do it and no doubt yields a flawless paint job. My paint jobs, while not perfect, are a 1000% better than what I started with (the bike pictured here was a pukey blue color, emphasis on pukey, and was about the ugliest bike in the world.) and I'm good with a couple tiny flaws. If I had a more controlled painting area rather than outside in typically hot and humid, and often windy Wisconsin summers (I'm right by Lake Michigan), I'd probably spend more time in the process. That, and with so little experience, and not wanting to repeat any of the (good) results I've achieve on a paint job in progress, I'm a bit afraid to mess something up and have to re-do priming and/or basecoat and/or clearcoat. The paint runs about $25-$35 a can. I use one can of 2k primer, two cans of basecoat-main color, one can of basecoat accent color, and two cans of 2k clear glamour coat per frame/fork. All in..the red frame was $180 in paint.

The blue frame pic is a bike I painted last fall. Same paints, same process, but before clearcoats. The pinstripes are uniform-straight..just distorted by the camera.







edit..The red bike is inside my truck. Auto paints are often baked after application. Since I don't have an oven that size, I'm letting the frame sit in my truck as it gets plenty hot in there when sitting in the sun.

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Old 08-07-22, 07:53 PM
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Originally Posted by fishboat View Post
If I had a more controlled painting area rather than outside in typically hot and humid, and often windy Wisconsin summers (I'm right by Lake Michigan).
I'm also in Wisconsin about a 1/2 hour northwest of Milwaukee.

For my project, the Montana Cans metal primer went on wonderfully smooth, but the Montana Cans Gold white went on horribly bumpy... not impressed.
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Old 08-08-22, 01:25 AM
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Originally Posted by PoorInRichfield View Post
I'm also in Wisconsin about a 1/2 hour northwest of Milwaukee.

For my project, the Montana Cans metal primer went on wonderfully smooth, but the Montana Cans Gold white went on horribly bumpy... not impressed.
Interesting you say that. I painted another project (not a bike) with white Montana Gold. I think was "Shock White". Also very lumpy. It even blocked the nozzle and I had to use one off another can.
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Old 08-08-22, 05:08 AM
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Originally Posted by PoorInRichfield View Post
I'm also in Wisconsin about a 1/2 hour northwest of Milwaukee.

For my project, the Montana Cans metal primer went on wonderfully smooth, but the Montana Cans Gold white went on horribly bumpy... not impressed.
I've never heard of Montana Gold paints..looked it up. It appears to be artist-graffiti paint. While it might be high grade paint for someone tagging a building, I think it's a long ways from automotive finishes. Paints in general are one portion of the world where you mostly get what you pay for. One plus with the MG paints..I'm guess it'll strip off easy with some chemical stripper.
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Old 08-08-22, 05:35 AM
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Originally Posted by fishboat View Post
I've never heard of Montana Gold paints..looked it up. It appears to be artist-graffiti paint.
Yeah, graffiti seems to be their target customer. With there being so many paints to choose from, I opted to give Montana Cans a try based off of this guy's video and because they had a teal color that appeared close to what I wanted: ETOE Designs -

I agree that Montana Cans probably isn't the paint to use if you're trying to refinish a high-end frame.
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Old 08-08-22, 05:46 AM
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Yes I also used them because I saw them on ETOE. Idk if he's sponsored or anything. But they seem to be pretty good.
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Old 08-08-22, 07:17 AM
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Ya..I've watched a number of his videos. He appears to be quite skilled, though I honestly never took note of the paints he was using. Montana Gold..there they are. He must be sponsored by them as I can't imagine any other reason to use them, given their website and typical market. If he's going to have a u-tube space and do a "diy with rattle cans" video..might as well generate some revenue with a paint sponsor... I was surprised to see him using SprayMax primers and clears though.

True auto-grade paints are a very different beast. (While I have little experience using auto paints, I was a polymer chemist in the coatings industry for a few decades. Becoming a Tier 1 or Tier 2 supplier to the auto industry is extremely difficult. Offering excellent products, very difficult in itself, is only the beginning.) Any serious player in the coatings market develops very specific coatings for very specific applications. As coatings performance expectations increase, the raw materials needed to achieve that performance also increase, and can get very pricey. Competition is brutal. All this leads to (coatings) paints being designed to meet very specific performance metrics, with the least costly raw materials, and no more...as "more" directly increases their costs to a point where the end-user simply won't pay for it. In the broad coatings world, a graffiti paint would (have to be) be designed to meet very the low performance expectations of a very low-cost market..and no more. Trying to use lower performance paints in a higher end(expectation) application may work to some extent (assuming primer, color coat, topcoat are compatible..big assumption in some cases) or it may fail miserably. Even if it does come out ok in the short term, I wouldn't expect it to last in the long term. Coatings design, cost, and performance just don't work that way.

The ETOT guy using MG paints is a bit questionable. MG is trying to extend their market(beyond graffiti/artist use) by using a guy and application like this. While the coatings seem to be compatible and "look" good on a video (a rock would look good with a coating of Spraymax Glamour coat of it), what his frames look like in person, and how long they last, who knows.
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Old 08-08-22, 08:34 AM
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Issues of paint going on too dry or lumpy or whatever happen all the time. As a pro, I solve these problems by adding more reducer or changing the kind of reducer (they are temperature related). Or I'll change the settings on my spray gun or even change what gun I am using to a different nozzle size. I'll back up a bit and explain more. Primers are usually mixed right before painting (well epoxy type of primers anyway). They consist of 3 parts, the primer, the activator and the reducer. The reducers come in 3 or 4 different temperature ranges. In other words based on what temperature the air is in the booth when I am spraying. However I change reducers for other reasons too like for example the paint is going on too dry so I switch to a higher temperature reducer. In fact to get House of Kolor primers to lay down smooth I most often use the highest temperature reducer no matter what the air temperature is. I don't always use the ratio recommended either. I might add more reducer than called for to get the paint to lay down smooth. These adjustments to ratio and reducers are what contribute to getting a decent job.

In a base coat/clear boat system there are only 2 ingredients in the color paint, the color and the reducers. The smoothness of these coats again depends on the ratio and type of reducer. The clears (like the primers) consist of 3 parts including an activator. I have several different types of clears and depending on the application play with the ratios and reducer temps. For example if I am adding clears over a decal to smooth them out, I'll use a fast drying clear so I don't have to wait a long time between coats. If I am doing a final clear then I want a much slower drying reducer so I don't get "over spray". That is a term used when new paint doesn't flow out because the surrounding paint has already started to set up and as a result the paint looks dull.

However it isn't necessary to have all my equipment and paint options to do a good job. Spray cans work. I make corrections all the time by sanding smooth and redoing again. However it is usually necessary to put a protective clear in between the mistake paint and the corrective paint. The hardest part of painting is putting on the final clears to be glossy and smooth. However it is possible to polish the final clear that came from a spray can so it looks like how I do it with my spray gun.
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Old 08-08-22, 11:56 AM
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Originally Posted by PoorInRichfield View Post
Yeah, graffiti seems to be their target customer. With there being so many paints to choose from, I opted to give Montana Cans a try based off of this guy's video and because they had a teal color that appeared close to what I wanted: ETOE Designs - spray paint a bike at home with supreme quality DIY - YouTube

I agree that Montana Cans probably isn't the paint to use if you're trying to refinish a high-end frame.
...that particular brand and product is one of the few color coat paints I've found problematic in use on bike frames.
You can still get it to work (sort of) as a color coat under a 2K glossy clear as your final finish, but it is considerably more difficult to manage.

The range of colors is very tempting, and I fell for that. I would not use the again to paint a bicycle frame.
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Old 08-08-22, 12:16 PM
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Caution on 2K if it is an Imron paint - don't count on a charcoal filter. They do not stop all the bad stuff. You have to have good outside air to breath.

All this was common knowledge in boatbuilding circles in the '80s. That stuff is (safety, environmentally) simply bad. Sad because it is the best bike paint ever.
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Old 08-08-22, 02:36 PM
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Originally Posted by 79pmooney View Post
Caution on 2K if it is an Imron paint - don't count on a charcoal filter. They do not stop all the bad stuff. You have to have good outside air to breath.

All this was common knowledge in boatbuilding circles in the '80s. That stuff is (safety, environmentally) simply bad. Sad because it is the best bike paint ever.

I used this mask:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

and P-100 organic vapor cartridges outside:
https://s7d9.scene7.com/is/content/m...CartridgeChart

Also wear goggles(thus stuff targets mucus membranes and eyes..if I remember from my research last fall) and cover skin with gloves, pants, socks, long sleeve shirt. From what I remember..for guys that work with this stuff all the time, they use a moon-suit with fresh air pumped in (working under positive pressure). Fun stuff, but easy to protect yourself outside for the occasional one-off job.
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Old 08-08-22, 04:29 PM
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activated charcoal filters work with isocyanates, it's just that you don't know when they stop filtering. Remote air supply is far safer.
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Old 08-09-22, 07:56 PM
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Spraymax 2k is an incredible product for what it is. I was very impressed by it. The film build is kind of low imo for a rattle can product, so don't be afraid to put many coats on there if you're looking to wetsand orange peel out.

Definitely use a proper cartridge respirator with the black filters (organic vapours), and don't do it anywhere near kids/seniors. I would be very careful with dust and airflow; wetting down the floor could help a lot, as well as minimizing dust on your clothing. Cotton free clothing would be ideal if you don't have access to a full paint suit. Sounds overkill but dust nibs are the worst

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