Painting a Bike Helmet




Introduction: Painting a Bike Helmet

My bike helmet somehow lost that thin plastic veneer that keeps it from looking like the goofy foam hat that it is, so I decided to give it a paint job.

Step 1: Sand and Wash

Start by removing the little pads inside the helmet.  These will just get in the way or get dirty, so we won't put them back until we're done.

I don't know that sanding was absolutely necessary here, but in most instances it helps paint to adhere.  I used a fine grit sanding pad to give it a quick once over and remove any glue that had previously held the plastic cover.  The pad made it easier to get into the holes in the helmet, but regular sandpaper should do the trick.

Once you've smoothed out the surfaces you plan to paint, make sure you handwash the helmet and remove ALL of the dust you've just made.  If there is any dust left when you paint, then you'll be painting the dust instead, and it will peel later on.  A rag is especially useful to remove any remaining dust and dry the helmet.  Make sure it is completely dry before moving on to the next steps.

Step 2: Get Your Tape On

Get yourself some blue painter's tape and tape over everything you don't want to paint (and I mean everything).  You should also tape the inside of the helmet to keep the spray paint from getting into the interior and hitting the strap.

Generally you want to leave the whole area you plan to paint open.  We're going to paint in stages, adding more tape at each stage rather than removing and re-taping a different area.

Step 3: Paint the Lightest Layer First

Now that you have your helmet all taped up, find a well-ventilated spot and lay down some newspapers.  Spray ONE light layer of a plastic adherent paint and let it sit for 20-30 minutes or until it begins to feel dry to the touch.  Spray a second layer and leave it to dry for at least 4-5 hours.

Step 4: More Tape

Now we're going to tape over all the areas we want to remain the color we've just sprayed.  In my case, I wanted the interior grooves of my helmet to be yellow, so I taped over them and left the outer grooves exposed.

Step 5: Next Layer

After adding tape, spray the second layer the same as the first.  You can do as many layers as you want, spraying progressively darker paints and taping as needed. More layers means a lot more drying time, and it might require a few days to get a good result.  Once you spray the last layer, let the helmet dry for at least 24 hours before you even think about touching it.

Step 6: Remove the Tape and Admire Your New Helmet

Not perfect, but I wasn't exactly going for a professional finish on my $30 foam hat.  Hopefully your taping skills are better than mine.

2 People Made This Project!


  • Digital Fabrication Student Design Challenge

    Digital Fabrication Student Design Challenge
  • Colors of the Rainbow Contest

    Colors of the Rainbow Contest
  • Electronics Contest

    Electronics Contest



3 years ago

Is it possible to paint over the plastic?


3 years ago on Step 2

You can also stuff newspaper in the inside and use a round tip object to push through the holes.


8 years ago on Introduction

Please tell me you have no intention to continue using this as a bike helmet. Without the plastic shell, it will offer near-zero protection. If you have ever seen a bike helmet which has saved someone's life, as I have, you would understand.

I urge you edit this Instructable with a disclaimer.


Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

Maybe plastic "shell" was a bad description. There was a very thin, purely aesthetic, sheet of plastic that was practically a sticker. Here is a link to the type of helmet I'm talking about:

Obviously no one should bike with a helmet that has been structurally compromised, but that is not the case here. Thanks for your concern though.


Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

That thin little bit of plastic is actually so that your head will slide along the asphalt or cement on initial impact and not grind in and twist your head when you hit. Yes it is almost laughably thin, but it does do what it was designed for.


7 years ago on Introduction

I saw this and am trying it out on my helmet now. I recommend sanding the helmet as well not just because the paint will hold better but it will also help to hide all the little bumps and holes in the foam. Otherwise it is going great!