Painting Process

Design & Masking

It’s kind of hard to describe in writing the next steps I took to get through the project. Keep in mind, each paint stage has several coats laid down and was given about 24 hours to cure enough for me to handle the frame in order to prep for the next stage. I’ll just lay out the pictures of the next stages and leave a brief description of what was going on. Like they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.

As I mentioned before, you need to work backwards. The maroon was my first base coat for the rear seat stay and chain stay. The front triangle base coat was white. I had to mask off the previous maroon base coat in order to not get any what overspray on it:

Mask the frame

Painting the front base layer of the frame. Notice the rear triangle is completely masked off to prevent over spray.

My next step was to add some detail that I wanted to add to the seat and chain stays. I ended up using some yarn to wrap the stays to get some of the design detail that I wanted. Notice how I masked and wrapped the front half of frame to prevent over spray:

Detail masking.. it's a bitch

More masking to get the detail I wanted without having overspray on the rest of the frame.

What the detail looked like after a couple of passes of white paint on top of the maroon base layer:

Frame seat stay and chain stay detail.

Frame seat stay and chain stay detail.

The next part was tricky. I wanted a fire engine red on the frame that was primarily on the seat tube and bottom bracket shell but blended more intricately than just plain lines into the white base layer. First, I had to protect the detail I had created. I was very careful with my Frogtape to make sure I covered every line I wanted to preserve:

Frogtaping the frame

Frogtape. The ctrl+s of bike frame painting.

To get the detail I wanted for the fire engine red to bleed into, I first drew out my pattern on some adhesive stencil paper I got from Michael’s and then went to town with an exacto knife. NOTE: Make sure to measure the circumference of the tube you’re making the pattern for. Most bikes have a larger down tube and a narrower top tube. As such, your stencil paper will end up being two different widths. This step actually took me a couple of tries to get right. Symetric patterns work best… unless your some sort of geometry savante:

Carving patterns for the frame

Carving patterns for the frame

The next hardest thing from cutting the pattern on the stencil paper was getting it to stick on a round tube without any air bubbles at the edges:

Apply the stencil to the frame slowly..

Apply the stencil to the frame slowly and carefully to avoid edge bubbles.. like the ones above!

I masked out the rest of what I didn’t want fire engine red and then laid on a couple of coats of the red:

Red. Like a fire engine.

Red. Like a fire engine.

The last step was to paint the front end with the hammered black and to put a silly logo on the head tube of the bike. It wouldn’t be custom without a silly custom logo, no?

Prepping the last of the frame for paint.

The final stage of painting. I have the red masked now… if you look closely, you will notice that I have the stencil revealed where I want the details of the black coat to cut into the white.

The silly logo:

My silly bike logo

My silly bike logo.. this was placed front and center on the head tube.

The Rust-oleum hammered black was actually my favorite paint out of this project. It has a pretty wicked finish that looks great on a bike. If I were to do a frame in a single color, I think I would grab one of the colors from the hammered finish line. Again, with all the coats, I did several passes with this color.

Hammered black

The final coat of hammered black on the frame.

6 Responses to Painting Process

  1. James

    Question if I’m doing a stencil on my bike once iv passed over it Afew times and the colour is covered well do I remove the stencil whilst the paint is still wet?

    • ekothree

      Hey there, I let my paint dry before removing the stencil. I just had to be careful not to pull the stencil up to fast. I didn’t want to pull up dry paint with it! I’m guessing you could probably pull up the stencil once the paint has set (~1 hour or so) and be fine as well.

  2. John Angus

    if you get dribbles of paint.. do you just leave them to dry and then sand them off?

    • ekothree

      Yes, sir. I’m guessing you’d probably want to give it a light pass with the rattle can after that to get rid of any sandpapper around the run.

  3. Andrew

    Hi! Great write-up. I was a bit confused on how long you waited before applying your second/third/fourth coats of paint and clear coat. Did you sand between every coat?

    Say I wanted to paint a bike a single solid color. Should I do the primer, wait 24 hours, do several coats color, wait 24 hours and sand, then do the clear coat? After that let it sit for a week?


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