July 8, 2014

paint-a-bike tutorial

I am so excited to be sharing this DIY with you! I have been planning on doing this project for a while now, & last weekend I finally had the time (& the courage) to repaint my bicycle.
There wasn't anything wrong with my bike before, I just wanted to change the look (& minimize the logos plastered all along the frame). Honestly it wasn't as difficult as I had hyped it up my head to be. Just remember the motto: We can make anything!
WARNING // Do not attempt this tutorial unless you have a crap-load of free time! This is definitely not a weekday project. It's more of a weekend-with-nothing-else-on-the-schedule project. Seriously, it took forever. Totally worth it though. 
To paint your bike, you'll need a few things: 
  • Sandpaper (medium & fine grit)
  • Two cans of Paint & Primer spray paint (mine is in mint green!)
  • Two cans of Spray Polyurethane 
  • Masking tape
  • Aluminum foil &/or plastic bags
  • Tools for taking bike apart (varies on model of bike, but you'll probably need a hex key set & a wrench)
 First things first - take a big breath, & begin disassembling your bicycle. Take off any part you don't want to paint. Having never done this before, I took many pictures of my bike before getting started so that I'd know what part went where. I took pictures as I was going too, so that I could go back & reference the order in which things came apart. I also labeled my pieces as I went, i.e. "rear brake cable to right handlebar," etc. Take your time, & be meticulous. You cannot take too many pictures. 
Next, tape & cover the parts you didn't want to remove, but don't want to be painted. I, for instance, was too chicken to remove my chain & gears. & my pedals. & my handlebars. Okay, I basically just took off the brakes & the seat. Obviously the more you remove the easier your bike will be to paint. If you're hesitant about your bike-assembling abilities, that's okay too, just cover, cover, cover! I covered the larger pieces of my bike in plastic shopping bags, the smaller portions in aluminum foil, & taped everything in place. 
That was the difficult part. Now onto the strenuous part: sanding! Sand the areas of your bike that are to be painted. You want your frame to be roughed up enough that the new paint will stick. Use the medium grit sandpaper for this step. Make sure that your mouth is covered when you're sanding - you don't want particles of paint & aluminum in your lungs. 
My weak arms got the best of me, so I gave in & used an electric sander. 
Painting time! Painting time is the best time of any project, in my opinion. Hang your bike in a well-ventilated area (outside is best), & apply one coat of spray paint. Wait until the first coat has fully dried, then apply a second coat. If there are areas of your paint job that are irregular, sand them down with the fine grit sandpaper. Repaint if necessary. Wait at least 24 hours before applying the clear-coat. You'll want to make sure the paint has completely dried, so be patient.

Apply two coats of polyurethane clear-coat in the same manner. Wait 24 hours before taking your bike down & removing the masking tape & aluminum foil. 

Re-assemble your bike, following all your meticulous photos & notes.
Now to cruise in style on your personalized ride! 

P.S. // How I made my bike pouch & other bicycle inspiration.


  1. This is just too cute. I am absolutely terrible at assembling things or remembering where everything went, I don't even have spray paint but I must try this project. Oh, and I don't even have a backyard, so I have to make this in a park and stay the night there in a tent or something hahah. But I'm sure it will be worth it! Mint green is such a pretty color. Thanks for the tutorial, really inspired me!

    1. Glad I could inspire. You'd definitely need to set up camp for a while!

  2. Such a great post, love the colour you've chosen! x

  3. ahhhh what an amazing idea! Just one question, where did you bought the paint? like to try this!

    1. You can get all the supplies needed for this project at Home Depot, Lowes, or your local home improvement store!

  4. Have you done the bag on the handlebars as well? I want one, it looks great!

    1. Yes! The bike bag is a do-it-yourselfer; here's the link:

  5. Any issues with the paint after some use? How's it holding up? Anything you wish you had done differently?

    1. The paint is holding up just fine, no fading or wear. I do wish I had done an additional coat of the polyurethane - there are some small spots where the clear coat did not completely cover & it seems to be picking up dirt. But other than that I'm pretty happy with how it's holding up. Thanks for asking!