What Kind Of Paint Do You Use On A Bike Frame?

Painting your bike is always a great idea. You not only get to give it a new look, but you also rust-protect it. The only concern is, ‘what kind of paint do you use on a bike frame?’

For starters, you need a primer or undercoat to promote better adhesion of the main coat. You also need the main coat and the topcoat to offer your bike an excellent finish.

I know how unnerving it is trying to figure out what paint to use. To help you, I’ll explain why you need all three paint types.

Plus, I’ll recommend the best paint for each category to help you get started as soon as possible.

Let’s get into it!

what kind of paint do you use on a bike frame

Which Paint Is Best For Bike Frame? (Quick Summary)

Here are the best paints for bike frames:

  1. PJ1 16-GLS Gloss Black Epoxy Spray Paint – Best epoxy-based bike paint
  2. Krylon 3106 Aerosol Paint – Best aerosol-based bike paint
  3. POR-15 46804 Top Coat Paint – Best direct-to-metal bike paint
  4. Rust-Oleum 7579838 Enamel Spray Paint – Best enamel-based bike paint

Bike Paint Types: What Kind Of Paint Do You Use On A Bike Frame?

You generally need a primer, main coat paint, and topcoat paint, as discussed below.

1. Paint Primer

Essentially, a paint primer is not an actual paint but only an undercoat. But despite that, it’s an essential part of the painting process.

For one, a primer protects your bike frame. Since it’s the first layer on the frame, it protects the bike frame against scratches and adverse weather.

In the long run, a primer improves the life and strength of your bike frame.

A primer also promotes better adhesion of the main coat. It lays a good foundation for the main coat paint to stick.

Without the primer, your main coat could start peeling off, leaving your bike looking distasteful.

Overall, you should apply 2-3 thin coats of the primer.

Now that you know what a primer does, you should get an option with rust-inhibition properties. Well, that’s what you get from the Rust-Oleum 2004 Zinsser Primer.

In addition to rust-inhibition, this paint primer reduces mildew, peeling, and even blistering. So, it promises the best frame protection.

Even better, it adheres to most bike frames without sanding and allows you to clean its coat easily with soapy water.

2. Main Coat Paint

After applying the undercoat and allowing it to cure, which should take about 4 hours, the following application is the main coat.

The main coat is what most people refer to as ‘the paint’ because it can work alone. Nevertheless, you won’t have the best results.

Ordinarily, a ½ pint of the main coat is enough for the entire bike frame, and you should apply about three thin coats.

Overall, main coat paints come in different types, as discussed below:

What Paint To Use On A Bike Frame? Main Coat Paint Types

a) Epoxy Paint

Epoxy paints, popularly known as floor paint, are a perfect choice for metal surfaces, including bike frames.

Overall, these paints are known for their colorful shine and durable coats.

The paints combine resin and paint hardeners to enable them to adhere firmly to the bike frame. As a result, they form a coat that’s weather-resistant, scratch-resistant, and super strong.

Note, however, that epoxy paints require a longer cure time than other paint types. While most paints cure within a day, epoxy paint requires up to 3 days.

One recommendation is the PJ1 16-GLS Gloss Black Epoxy Spray Paint.

This epoxy paint enjoys a porcelain-hard high-gloss finish. Plus, it’s scratch-resistant and rust-proof.

What Paint To Use On A Bike Frame

b) Aerosol Paint

Aerosol paints are known to leave a smoother coat. While most aerosol paints are used for decorative properties, some have rust-inhibition properties that make them ideal for the bike.

Well, that describes the Krylon 3106 Aerosol Paint.

This aerosol paint comes in a variety of bright colors to give your bike frame a stunning look. Its coat glows under U.V. black lighting for maximum visibility.

While aerosol paints are generally attractive and easy to use, you’ve to apply them cautiously as they contain toxic chemicals. So, ensure you wear a gas mask, safety glasses, and gloves.

c) Carbon Touch-Up Paint

You can use carbon touch-up paint if you have a carbon, aluminum, titanium, or steel frame.

Ideally, these paints are for covering minor dents on the bike frame. So, they aren’t the best for repainting the entire bike frame but only for fixing chips and scratches.

One fantastic thing about these paints is that they seal off the areas where you apply them. One such paint is the ACDelco GM 19367787 Carbon Touch-Up Paint.

The paint comes with a 4-in-1 applicator that allows you to seal minor and larger dents. You can count on this for a professional bike frame painting retouch.

d) Enamel Paint

Enamel paints are resin paints that are also known to adhere firmly to metal. The resin element enhances adhesion between the paint coat and the metal frame.

Additionally, it improves the paint’s luster to give your bike frame a fresh satin finish.

Overall, enamel dries much faster, unlike epoxy paints. Their only caveat is that they are toxic and so you should wear a gas mask, safety glasses, and gloves when working. Plus, only work in a well-ventilated area.

One perfect consideration is the Rust-Oleum 7579838 Enamel Spray Paint.

This enamel paint has rust-inhibition properties and a glossy, tough finish.

e) Direct-to-Metal Paint

Direct-to-metal (DTM) paints are designed to be used without the primer. So, if you want to save on cost, get DTM paint.

One choice with fantastic qualities is the POR-15 46804 Top Coat Paint.

This DTM paint is a primer, main coat, and topcoat combo, and that’s not all.

It enjoys a glossy finish and comes in a wide range of finishes. Also, it comes with rust-inhibition properties to protect your bike frame against rust.

What’s more, POR-15 46804 forms a U.V resistant coat to protect your bike frame from the sun.

What Kind Of Paint Should I Use On A Bike Frame

3. Top Coat Paint

After you apply the main coat and it cures for about 4 hours, the next and last application is the topcoat.

Like the main coat, you need to apply three thin topcoats. It’s essential, however, that each application dries before the next.

Overall, the topcoat is applied to the main paint coat to seal and protect it against harsh weather.

In most cases, the topcoat is transparent or somehow translucent, thus the name clear coat.

One great top coat to try out is the KBS Coatings 8404 Diamond Finish Clear Coat.

This topcoat works by the direct-to-metal mechanism, meaning you don’t need to use a primer before it. But still, it allows you to apply it over other coats.

Overall, it guarantees corrosion inhibition and a high-gloss finish.

N.B. – The Application Method Dictate What Kind Of Paint To Use On A Bicycle

Before you can buy bike paint, consider first how you’ll apply it. In that case, consider these two methods.

1. Spraying

You can virtually spray any paint. While it’s possible to use an airbrush gun, it is usually costly. So, I recommend the spray paint (spray can) method even though it can be wasteful.

Overall, the spray can method is excellent when on a budget. With just $15-$30, you can get spray paint and use it to repaint your bike frame.

An option like the Krylon K02797007 Fusion Spray Paint cost under $20 but serves as a primer, main coat, and finish. So, you don’t need to get any other paint after getting this paint.

2. Brushing

The most suitable paints for brushing are high-volatile types like enamel paints.

If you brush epoxy paint, you may end up with an ugly finish as the paint tends to drip due to its slow-drying property.

Bike Frame Painting FAQs

1. And What Kind Of Paint Should I Use On A Bike Frame?

Here are the most standard paint types you can use on a bike frame:

  • Primer, which is your undercoat that protects the frame
  • Main coat, which also protects the bike frame
  • Topcoat, which protects the other coats and gives your frame a shiny look

2. How Do You Paint A Bicycle Frame?

Here are simple steps on how to paint a bike frame:

  • Remove the wheels and other attachments from the wheels and put them aside
  • Cover the other parts on the bike frame with painters tape or trash bags
  • Turn the bike upside down and sand the frame with steel wire or high-grit sandpaper
  • Wipe off the frame with a wet cloth and allow it to dry
  • Apply 2-3 layers of the primer, followed by the main coat and the topcoat
  • Give all the three applications enough time to cure (about 4 hours)
  • Leave the bike outside to dry (up to 24 hours) before reassembling it

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In summary, what kind of paint do you use on a bike frame?

You should get a primer, main coat, and topcoat. But if you get a 3-in-1 option, then that’s better as it’ll save you money.

Remember, however, that getting high-quality paint is paramount!

Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of paint is typically applied to bicycle frames?

Bicycle frames, along with a host of other items such as new cars and refrigerators, have traditionally gone through a process involving enamel paint spraying and baking, yielding a highly resilient finish. This process is a meticulous one that starts with a rust-preventative primer coat. Post the primer application, several coats of color are sprayed on, often followed by a clear coat to impart an appealing gloss to the finish. The key lies in systematically layering several coats of quality enamel paint on a perfectly primed surface.

What kind of paint should I opt for if I’m considering repainting my bicycle?

If you are considering repurchasing a bicycle, the majority of which comes already painted, there may be instances when another primer coat becomes necessary. In such cases, a filling or surfacing primer is recommended. When it comes to choosing the type of paint, it can either be water-based or solvent-based. The latest automotive water-based paints are a good choice as they provide a slightly thicker and heavier coat, which can be desirable when repainting a bike. To touch upon my personal experience, I’ve had success using automotive water-based paints for their durability and excellent coverage.

Between acrylic and enamel, which one is a superior choice for painting bike frames?

From my years of experience in painting bike frames, I would advise favoring enamel over acrylic. Despite it being more time-consuming to dry, enamel paint offers significant advantages in terms of durability and the fact that it does not need a base primer. Pro tip based on my personal painting projects: If you’re struggling to find enamel paint that matches your bicycle frame, try using Humbrol model paints. These have a wide range of colors and are known to yield good results, especially when painting bike frames. Remember, the key to a smooth and durable finish lies in the quality of paint, and in this case, Humbrol enamel paints check all the boxes.

What’s the process to paint a bike frame?

I guess it’s time to get down to business, so let me walk you through the basic steps of painting a bike frame, based on my own multiple repainting projects. Remember, the process is not just about wielding a paint spray can, but also preparations and finishes that ensure a great outcome. I will share the detailed method in my next article on “Step-by-Step Guide to Painting a Bike Frame.” Stay tuned for that because it’s going to be a comprehensive guide for bike enthusiasts looking to give their ride a fresh new look! Till then, happy riding and remember, a beautiful bike is not just about the ride but also the pride!