Painting a frame


New Member
Feb 19, 2012
Hi all,

Painting a frame. I am not too worried about a professional appearance, but I do want it to be durable and rust-protected. I'm after a chrome or silver, and I don't have any spray equipment, so I would prefer spray cans if possible.

- What types/brands of paint should I use, and where can I get them in NZ?
- Do I have to remove all old paint first?
- Do I undercoat with something?
- Is some sort of top-coat required?

Alternatively, is it more trouble than it is worth and should I get a professional on the job?

Go down to a car parts store and use the rattle cans (spray) in whatever colour takes your fancy. The quality of the jobs mainly depends on prep work and patience. I've seen fun paint jobs given to cheap cars with alternative product from Rustoleum - a paint designed for outdoor furniture and the like. Always read the labels on all of the cans (if you get a primer, colour and a clear) as there may be a requirement to apply the colour within a certain period of time after using the primer. Same with the clear coat on the colour... If you have a fairly good painted surface to start from normally a medium scotch pad will suffice to key the surface. Some form of chemical cleaner/degreaser is helpful - but again, refer to the instructions on the can for prep if there is any. Most large paint companies with have hint and tips on their website. One thing that never hurts is practice. Go get some inexpensive metal pipe from the local hardware store and primer and paint it. Get some wet n dry paper of various grades (heavy - say 100 grit) for removing paint after playing and some 800 and 1500 grit for colour sanding if you want to try and get an ace finish. If you want to try colour sanding make sure there's plenty of paint on - curved surfaces are a ***** to sand but if you get it right it will look good. Patience is key. Several thin coats are much better than one heavy coat. Be consistent with drying times. If there's a time limit to apply more coats while the paint is set and you miss it then you'll have the long wait until its dry to apply more paint... That's just the way it is. Have fun painting the metal pipe and see if you like the results.
Well you can certainly do this and with luck get good results... but you are not likely to get a true professional looking result.

I have painted frames before but used a spray gun and compressor.

Painting should be done with good ventilation or outside if you can keep things from blowing onto the paint. I wear a special breathing mask when I paint or use chemicals that give off fumes.

You want to get primer, color paint and probably clear coat. Paint made for cars would be good and all three should be compatible. A car parts store should have this.

1. Strip everything off the frame and remove any stickers, decals whatever. If there is any rust on it you will have to use some fine sandpaper, or wire brush, (Dremel with wire brush wheel is easiest) to remove it.

2. You will have to scuff up the existing paint so primer can hold. Auto paint shops sell plastic sponge like pads for this but you also could use fine grit wet sandpaper.

3. Clean the bike with soap and water then dry it. Then clean it again with denatured alcohol.

4. Hang the frame by putting a string through the head tube with something large at the end so it can't pull through. Do the same with the fork but tape over the part that goes into the head tube to protect it from paint. Put a rag into the bottom bracket and tape the end to keep paint off the threads. You need to be able to move around it.

5. Get some good auto quality primer in a can and spray that on following directions. Let it dry fully and then scuff it up slightly using scuffing pads or wet fine grit sandpaper.

6. I don't know what kind of finish paint you can get where you live. But any quality paint for cars should be fine for you project. Follow the directions and don't try to put on too much at a time or it will run. It is better to do a lot of thin coats waiting a while for each to dry. (The amount of time to wait between coats should be on the can.)

7. Optional - you can spray a high gloss clear finish coat of the same type of paint you used for the color coat.

8. Let this paint dry for quite a while... several days. The longer the better. Some paint will not achieve its maximum hardness for weeks, So be careful when rebuilding the bike.

Good luck. The worst that happens is you screw up and get drips. You can sand these down with wet sandpaper and repaint. A bike is pretty small so a can of paint will go a long way.
Gee it seems Swampy and I were writing at the same time. We're pretty much in agreement I see.