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What Kind of Paint to Use on a Bike? – Expert Advice

Written by Gary Johnson / Fact checked by Henry Speciale

what kind of paint to use on a bike

There comes a time where your bike badly needs a transformation. It is not only about making it look new, but also protecting it from stubborn rust. When the exterior coating of your bike starts to chip, it has to be repainted.

However, you have to be extra careful in picking the paint color because regular paint you see in hardware stores will not work well on your bike. There are specific types of paint that should be used to prolong the overall structure of your bike.

So, what kind of paint to use on a bike? Spray paint or airbrush paint is the go-to bike paints for most bikers. Both are easy to use and can coat your bike in no time. To know more about bike paints, read on. We will explore the right paint to use for your bike.


Reasons to Paint Your Bike


Personalize the appearance

Normally, you buy a bike that has the standard bike model appearance. The look is uniform and you might find the same exact model when you go out on the streets. There are some bikers who might want to do some revamping and repainting to get a more personalized look.

In this case, you have the option to choose the bike color, design, and put more personality to your bike. It is very common that bikers will make a total redo of the bicycle frame and choose the color they want.

Protecting your bike

Another reason why some opt to paint their bike is to protect them from external elements. Bike paints or coats directly protect your bike from substances that can harm the metal structure. Most bike paints have the ability to protect steel or aluminum bike frames from water and grit.

These substances can cause corrosion, which will damage your bike. To prevent it from spreading throughout the bike frame, it is ideal to treat the rust and repaint your bike.

Transforming old to new

Many cyclists find it hard to let go of their old bikes. After years of usage, your bike will look old-fashioned and needs a revamp. Bike painting or spraying is the best way to go when transforming your bike into a brand new one.

Factors to Consider When Painting a Bike


Before diving into repainting your bike, there are important factors to consider. This ensures a successful bike painting process.

Rust removal is vital

If you own an old bike, and you already have it for years, it automatically builds rust and dirt on the surface. Before you paint the bike, you should remove the rust and clean the bicycle. In this way, the paint will sit well on your bike frame.

You can use sandpaper or aluminum oxide paper in removing the rust from your bike. Also, it is advisable to use a miniature orbital sander or mouse sander during the removal process. Ensure that you completely remove the rust from your bike.

Degreasing is equally essential

Degreasing is another way to ensure a successful bike painting. You can use white spirit or soap to remove stubborn oil hugging your bike frame. It is important to degrease your bike an hour before you apply the paint product.

Steel treatment

One way of protecting your bike from further rust and corrosion is steel treatment. You can use a rust converter or anti-corrosion primer to treat your bike. You can brush your bike with thin layers of these substances, and let them sit before painting. The anti-corrosion primer is a helpful way to prevent rust from building up. It can also help fight against coat chipping.

Paint color

This highly depends on your personality. Before picking the paint color, it is essential that you have everything planned out. Meaning, you have a vision in your mind about how your bike will look after painting.

In this way, you will not waste your resources and put more damage to your bike. You can also consult an expert on custom bicycle paint. Ensure that you get the color of your choice, and test it in broad daylight to know whether the shade is accurate.

Paint brand

Getting the best paint for bike frame means resorting to a trusted and reputable paint brand. If possible, do not use bike paint from a generic brand. It cannot provide the protection and coating you desire for your bike. Some paint brands can easily wear off, wasting your spendings in the process.

Right Bike Paint to Use on a Bike

For the optimum result, here are recommended bicycle paint you can use in coating and transforming your bike. Depending on your budget and skill level, you can choose which type of paint is suitable for you.

Brush paints

Using brush paints is the most traditional way of painting a bike. For the best result, you can use the following for bike painting:

  • Plasticote Enamel Paint – It is an oil-based paint that leaves no signs of brush marks. The Plasticote creates a hard gloss finish after coating your bike. The paint is very easy and quick to dry, requiring you to speed up the painting process.
  • Humbrol Enamel Paint – Another paint brand you can consider is Humbrol enamel paint. Like the Plasticote, it is oil-based brush pain. It is a thick substance leaving you a bumpy surface when applied very thickly.
  • Johnstone’s Professional Undercoat – This undercoat is an oil-based chemical ideal for a white topcoat for your bike frames. You can sand your bike after painting it with Johnstone’s. It requires sanding because the paint can leave brush marks upon application.
  • Household gloss paint – The paint is very thick to apply and slow to dry. It requires you to wait for two weeks or more to finally sand your bike after coating. When applied in a gradual manner, it can still give excellent results.
  • Hammerite – This type of paint can be used as a base coat. It comes in a very thick consistency, making it a hard material to work on your bike. It is marketed as paint and primer in one, but it gets hard using a paintbrush.

Spray paints

If you cannot work well with a brush, there are available bike spray paints on the market. A spray paint can create more uniform application for your bike frame. It does not require sanding after the paint application as well.

Spray painting bikes are easier compared to brush painting. It has a spray head that you can direct which area you need coloring. If you apply the spray paint properly, you will see a desirable result.

Next to brush paints, spray paint is a go-to choice for most bikers. The paint color is already mixed, so you just need to open the bottle spray and do the work. However, you have to take precautions when using spray paints.

It is important to maintain a considerable distance between the spray head and your bicycle. In this way, you can control how thin or thick the paint is being applied to your bike’s surface. For accurate results, hold the spray paint in a vertical position and spray the mixture gradually.

You can use Krylon’s Fusion All-in-One Spray Paint for bicycles or the RUST-OLEUM Enamel Spray Paint. Both finishes are glossy and can protect your bike from rusting when you spray paint a bike.

Airbrush paints

Airbrush painting is another innovative way to transform your bike. You will need an airbrush gun, a suitable compressor, and diluted paint. With this type of paint, you can keep the coating as thin as possible.

It will not require paint thinner to get a better paint consistency. Moreover, you can apply the paint more evenly. We recommend you use the Badger Airbrush for accurate results.

No matter what your bike is made of, you can use airbrush paint to coat and color it. Compared to spray paint, employing an airbrush when painting produces a more even and thin coating. It creates a fine mist on the surface and can be applied in several layers without appearing too thick.

Using an airbrush is one of the most excellent ways to paint your bicycles. Most airbrush paints can be used with any type of material and can provide you more versatility in painting.


Revamping or transforming your bicycle is easy if you know what kind of paint you are going to use. There are plenty of products available out there, so it might be confusing about what to pick.

May this guide on what kind of paint to use on a bike help to narrow down the choices for your bike painting needs. For other concerns, we are also open to discussion and encourage you to comment on your inquiries.

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