Introduction: Paint a Bike Frame

About: I like to make things for the internets. I also sell a pretty cool calendar at You'll like it.
Bikes get scratched up and start looking pretty ragged. Fortunately it's not too tough to give them a new paint job. Just a few tools, some spray paint, and a bit of time. It's all worth it, too, since the results make the bike look far better.

Step 1: Start Stripping the Bike

So everything that's attached to the frame needs to come off. That's the seat, wheels, chain, derailleur, all that stuff. To get these off you will need:
  • chain tool
  • Allen wrench (4mm, 5mm & 6mm)
  • Socket wrench
  • Crescent wrench
And for painting you;ll need some spray paint and clear coat. I used:
  • Blue Krylon Dual
  • Krylon Clear Coat
With those tools, go to it. The fun thing about bikes is that everything you need to remove is pretty clear. Is there a hole for an allen wrench? Good, use an allen wrench! That takes care of the brakes, bar stem, and bottle holders. Use the socket wrench to remove the crank arms, the crescent wrench for the front fork, and the chain tool for the bike chain.

If you're new to this, be sure to pay attention to all the parts you pull off as you'll need to put them back on later. Also, make sure to carefully store all of the pieces away. It's easy to lose a couple tiny pieces along the way.

Step 2: Clean It Up

So now you have the bike frame. Clean it up with something good to get rid of all the grease and dirt. I used Pedro's Green Fizz, but there are many options you can use here.

Step 3: Sand It Little

Use some sandpaper to rough up the surface of the old paint. I used 150 grit here, but could've gone even finer. The point is to give the new paint a good surface to hold on to, not to remove all of the old paint.

When that's done, wipe the frame down with a damp cloth to pick up all the dust.

Step 4: Cover Up Anything You Don't Want to Paint

This bike was in rough shape and the crank arms were absolutely not budging. So, fine, I wasn't going to remove them after all. Which isn't too bad since it's easy enough to cover them up with plastic bags and use some masking tape to keep them tidy as well as cover up all of the crank arm.

In addition to the crank arms, I also covered up the brake posts with masking tape.

Step 5: Paint!

OK, we finally get to paint. Some people recommend hanging the entire frame by threading a wire through the head tube and hanging it up by that. I didn't have any good place to hang the bike at my place so I opted for doing it on a tarp in two phases.

The first phase was done like in the first photo here with the frame resting on the seat post opening and the rear dropouts. In the second phase, I balanced it on a crank arm and one of the chainstays. It's not elegant or super stable, but it works.

For each phase of painting, I applied three coats of blue Krylon Dual spray paint. Just be sure to wait for at least 5 minutes between coats. So with two phases, this resulted in 6 separate coats of paint being applied.

After that, I let the whole thing dry overnight before applying 3 coats of Krylon Clear Coat with the same process.

Step 6: Put Everything Back On

Now it's time to put all the parts back on. If you paid attention and carefully stored away all your pieces, this should be quick and easy. If not, it can be a little annoying.

But that's it, your bike has a new paint job and you're good to go.