How to Paint a BMX Bike Frame
Steps to Painting a BMX Bike Frame
OK there's two ways to paint your BMX bike frame: the quick and easy way and then there's best of class - obnoxiously, anally retentive way.
For the latter (that's the second one for all of you linguists) you're going to need a pretty nice shop and some pretty pro tools - things like a sandblaster and a pro sprayer. I'm more inclined to spend less time in the shop and more time out on my bike so let's explore the former, that's the 'quick and easy way'.
Step #1 - Strip it! Kind of obvious I know but, it's amazing how may guys skip this part. They just try and cover everything but the frame with tape and plastic. End result = a really crappy paint job. Besides stripping your bike gives you a chance to inspect every part for wear and to clean it. You'll just love the way it rides and feels once you get it back together. Plus you'll learn a ton about how your bike works by doing it. BTW when I say strip I mean strip it - everything off. Check out the pics and videos below if you want to see a completely stripped bike.
Step #2 - Strip the finish. OK, I know I already said strip it but you know I meant take it completely apart. Get it down to just the frame. In this second step we're working with the frame and we really want to make it naked. So, you're going to need to good quality stripper. Look for 'aircraft grade' stripper and you'll be fine. Don't go cheap on me here. Get new product - no used stuff that's been hanging around for years. Once you're done and it looks like you've got every last bit of paint off take time to rinse the frame thoroughly. Inspect it carefully. You may need to use a heavy brush, like a wire bristle brush to remove any little flakes or flecks that remain. Inspect it again and rub it down all over rag. Make certain there is nothing left. This will insure a beautiful final finish and no pealing.
Step #3 - Degrease. I know this seems like overkill but grease can kill your paint job. It can also hide from all the stripping and washing you did above so take this extra step to be sure. Get a good quality degreaser and give your frame a once over. Go over it again with a clean white cloth to be sure it's dry and ready for the first step of prep.
Step #4 - First Prep. Think of your frame like it was wood. For painting wood you need to make sure the wood is dry and read before applying primer. The process for metal or aluminum painting is even more complex. Your frame needs to be chemically ready to receive the primer so it and the subsequent layers of paint will all adhere properly. For steel frames use something like Metal-Prep. For aluminum use Alumi-Prep. Make sure you get the right one for your frame material.
Step #5 - Time to Prime. Doing this right will give you a bullet proof finish. Well not really but to will make sure you end up with the best finish possible. The type of primer you use will depend on the kind of material the frame is made of. If you have a steel frame use a primer specifically made for steel. If you have an aluminum frame it is very important you get a quality primer that is made for aluminum. Mixing this up or using a cheap generic primer is the recipe for disaster and your frame will chip, peal and look awful in no time. Use an epoxy primer for best results. 5b. If you really want to get anal here you can apply a primer-sealer over the epoxy primer but if you've done all of the other prep properly it's really not needed.
Step #6 - Put on you Top Coat. Acrylic lacquers are OK but if you really want a top quality job spend a little more and go for Acrylic Polyurethane.
Step #7 - Clear Coat. If you've just painted with a plain solid colour you can skip this step. But if you really want that 'bullet proof' look than it's worth doing. If you've done anything fancy with your frame paint, like beads, neon, etc. than definitely do a Top Coat. Finish Tip: apply your decals before you do the Top Coat. This really gives your paint job a pro look.
Step #8 - Let it Dry! At this stage everyone gets excited and impatient and wants to start putting it all back together so they can jump on their ride to show off their awesome work. Don't! Keep your baby safe, warm and dray for at least 3 days (72 hours).
Step #9 - Reassemble... gently! Take time to clean and inspect every part. Now is the time to replace anything that is worn. Go slow and gently. You've just done a killer paint job and the last thing you want to do is scratch or chip it by rushing reassembly.
Step #10 - Show off your Ride! Hop on at 7am and don't come home til dark or at least until everyone in town has seen your creation. If you belong to a Bike Club you definitely want to go hang out there.