Bicycle Painting - DIY

How to paint a bicycle (Do-it-yourself)

Below is how I went on to repaint an old bicycle.  I'm no pro at this painting stuff (my prior experience was painting a trash can :)  so I'm not trying to say this can be your guide, I'm just documenting how things went - mistakes, lessons learned and perhaps what went well.  The painting turned out good at first try.  So, how did I do it?  Continue reading to know.

My cousin found this used folding bike in a "surplus" shop. Functionally alright but aesthetically it's painful to look at - somebody slathered it with some paint on top of the original paint but it made it look worse. Still I kept it, looking beyond the paint and committed to give it a make-over - a new paint job.


Step 1 - Disassemble the bike. I would assume you know how to do this already because this is not a guide about disassembly.  This is easy but make sure you secure all the parts in a container so that you won't lose the little parts of the bike when you re-assemble them after painting.  

Step 2 - Strip the paint all the way to the metal.  This is the tedious part so be patient here.
  • I used a paint stripper here to make paint removal a little easier.  Bought this from a local hardware store.  Did this by applying the paint stripper on the old paint.  After a few minutes, the old paint developed into blisters.  This is a sign that the paint is starting to loosen.  I scraped it off easily with a plastic scraper.  I have to wear protective clothing and gloves because I heard if it gets into contact with your skin it will surely sting painfully.  My paint has several layers so I have to do this cycle of re-apply/scrape several times. 
  • The paint stripper won't do the job entirely so the next step I have to do is to scrape the remaining paint down to the metal with a sandpaper.  I used a grit 120 for this job.  This is the part that took the longest in terms of effort.  I spent 3 Saturday mornings doing this.
  • After the sandpaper job, I cleaned the frames running a dry rag on them to pick up the dusts.  

Bare metal after stripping all paint.  Sanded to smooth metal.

Step 3 - First coat - primer paint.  The first spray is a primer paint.  Consumed 2 cans of spray paint here.  I performed the spraying by applying thin layers of spray.  Each layer is done by spraying a fast sweeping motion from a distance of about 30cm.  I made a mistake of spraying too close and too slowly and I got clumps of concentrated paint and some runs.  There is a need to wait for one thin layer to dry first before applying another layer.  In my case, I waited 30 minutes per layer.  When this primer painting is done, I let it dry for 2 days.
After first few coats of primer paint

Step 4 - Spray painting time - the color of your choice!

I performed this after 2 days of drying the primer.
  1.  Sand the primer until desired smoothness and removing the runs.  I used  a grit 200 sandpaper for this job.
  2. Clean up to remove the dust using a dry cloth.
  3. Next I started spray painting color of choice, I picked a metallic blue color here.  I applied thin coats with 20 minutes in between.  I used 2 cans worth.  I waited for about 30 minutes before going to the next step.
  4. Next, I sprayed the clear coat using the same guidelines as #4 above.
  5. I let the paint job dry for 1 week and the result is below...

If you have any questions, feel free to ask using the comments section  below.  I'd be glad to answer.