Frame Painting

I just finished painting a steel road frame and wow what a horrible experience! I feel like I’ve ruined 2^19 brain cells, my left arm is sore from all the stripping and sanding, the finish is crappy and the frame feels like 2kg heavier than when it was stripped bare.

What do you guys do for finishing a frame?

Ideally I would have liked to get the thing stripped back to steel and just ride that, it looked really mean, but then rust would be an issue. Is it worth sending the frame to a proffessional sprayer? Powdercoat or enamel? How much do these services typically cost? Do you guys know anyone in the Melbourne area that likes stripping and spraying bike frames?

There is a little on this topic on the various forums, but they seem to suggest don’t DIY (well now I know) or are very USA specific - and I’m sure things are slightly different here.


im getting a 1943 track frame powdercoated by (in Research, just out of Melbourne) - im getting some things fixed up also, the coating is about $130 if you get other work. $160 if you dont which is a relative standard to other places i believe.

kevin at paconi in braeside does it also, roughly the same price, i think he does enamel though.


Thanks Nick!! I had to drop the s to: but these guys look excellent.

gripsport’s horizontal rear dropout conversions don’t look too horizontal!? some seem almost parallel to the CS?

Most powdercoaters will charge about $50 to do a frame that has been stripped/sandblasted. Sandblasting will cost about $30-$45. Most powdercoat jobs do not seal the frame from rust/oxidisation, although there are places that do it properly (such as Spectrum Powderworks in the US). Professional wet paint jobs (with 2k clear) will probably start at $150 for single colour, no decal restoration. ‘Wet paint’ jobs (eg polyurethanes) are the best option for a lugged steel frame if you want to retain lug definition.

A full pimpin/custom paint job with House of Kolor paint, (sandblasted, 2k primer, basecoats, and 2k PU clear) can be yours for around $350.

hmm, thats really annoying. because im having a beautiful track frame from the 40’s powdercoated… and i was wondering about lug definition, but i didnt know enough about the process. oh well, its too late now. i’ll post final pics up here so people can see the results.

i was quoted $160 for a wet paint job from Paconi. in hindsight, i should have gone with them.


hmmn… is it possible to just get a clear rust treatment? A lugged steel frame looks very nice when fully bare. Especially if it’s got that ‘etched’ dark gun metal, or slightly polished look :slight_smile:

By the way - my spray-bomb came up looking pretty nice, but the surface is slightly fragile and chips easily. The suffering with undercoat fumes, stripper and paint mess was easily worth as much as others charge.

A raw/bare metal look can be achieved by; sandblasting and sanding to achieve the required raw finish, then apply a durable clear powdercoat layer (porous), which then needs to be sealed with a 2k epoxy clearcoat containing adhesion promoter. So it can be done.

i got my frame back powdercoated… its reasonable, but not amazing. the surface of the frame was pitted in some areas which was highlighted in the new paintwork. i’ll post some pics of it soon.

i did have another frame just bead-blasted. as ndf noted, it looks nice, especially seeing the careful bronze brazing.

is there ANY way i can achieve a nice paintjob at home? i mean, i cant go baking things, but im patient. or is it just impossible?



your best chance for success at home (without professional spray equipment, compressors and booths) is with an airbrush. You may need to thin the paints down a bit more than normal to get it through the smaller airbrush nozzle. Use automotive quality paint (etch primer, can use basecoat system for the colour), but you will need to use 2k paint for the clear, or it won’t be durable, or you can use 2k colours without a clear in some cases as they are durable and glossy. Use a mask suitable for 2k systems! google Suzy Jackson’s article on her painting escapades.

Dust is the enemy! clean your workspace well and mist the area down with water before shooting any paint.

hey malto, thanks for the reply

i googled suzy jackson, and found said article here:

very handy. it looks like she achieved quite a nice paintjob - also considering it was her first time.

is there anything that comes close to what you’ve suggested that can be bought in spray cans? im beginning to think i should just take this stripped frame to a builder and have them do it. or maybe even an automotive body workshop? i wonder if i masked the frame and brought it in if they’d go over it cheaply…


Spray Cans?..I think the result will be disappointing.
If you strip the frame, get it sand-blasted and take it to a painter (same day as they can paint it), they might only charge about $100-125, especially if you were happy to use whatever paint they have left over in the pot.

What needs to be masked?

If the frame is a bit rusty/pitted it might cost a bit more as the primer will need to be built up and sanded more.

To paint a frame right (smooth, even finish) takes time - a lot of layers, and sanding. Typically 2-3 coats of primer (more if pitted), 2 coats of base colour, more for multiple colours, including masking time, 2-3 coats of clear - more if decals are involved. Add more time for prep if it’s a lugged frame.

Expect to stuff a few efforts up before you can achieve something you are happy with.

I painted my old peugeot frame by hand with a brush. I used bio-organic paint stripper (the solvent based strippers knock me for six) and bio-organic enamel paints. I used a really good quality brush recommended for smooth application of enamels. However, I am seriously disappointed with it. Even with time, patience and love I didn’t achieve what I hoped. Dripping and uneven application were the main problems. And it is prone to chipping if you look at it.

I was considering using an airbrush but could not justify the economics of it. Rattlecans weren’t an option as they make me crook too.

I wouldn’t brush paint another frame and wouldn’t recommend it to anybody. I did read up before starting and did it fully aware of the pitfalls. glad i tried though.

I am saving up to send it to Matt at Kookie bikes to get a good looking paint job. He built my wheels up for me and did a great job.

It is possible to get a nice finish from spraying with a can. I have done three frames now and I am very pleased with the results. What you must have is Patience! it took me 5 days to get the finish I wanted.

The magic paint in a can is a one pack epoxy enamel. Its called RUST GUARD and the brand is White Knight. I’m pretty sure you can only get it at Bunnings.

Anyway I was put on to this stuff by the guys at Neal Bates Automotive when getting my reynolds 853 trials frame fixed up. these guys are the only people in canberra with the skills to weld 853 and They make their roll cages out of 853!!! back on topic, This paint is what all the rally guys use to spray their wheels, roll cages, and under carriages between races so the cars look all nice and shiny. It is tough stuff and doesn’t easily chip it and doesnt need a primer.

Back to being patient. You need to apply the stuff in very thin coats and let it dry completely between coats. The first couple of coats will barely cover the frame. 1 coat a day for 4 or 5 days with a light sand between coats and you will have a nice tough glossy finish that is thin enough to get good lug definition. Not as glossy as auto paint with a good clear but tougher.

Only catch: you can only get the stuff in like 10 colours :frowning:

I’m gonna give Joel (tomacropod) a hand to do his battaglin with the stuff so I’m sure hell post some pics of how it turns out


I have always stripped my frames myself, and then gone to an automotive shop and asked them to undercoat and paint the frame in whatever the colour in there tin is. Usually costs me a slab of beer, and the result is always good. They even have put the frame in the ‘baker’ as well…

Sorry if im jumping in late (or if someone else has said it) but Bell St Powder in Preston will do a bike for $100, blasted and then powdercoated. They know their shit too (masking up BB holes and such).

I hear on good authority that it’s quite a bit cheaper if they’ve already got the right colour ready to go, rather than having to set up a colour just for you (however, I have no idea what that means. How does powdercoating work anyway?).

i wish knew how to mask bb shells. what a pain in the ass… $165 too.

having powdercoated a vintage frame personally, i would not recommend you do it on a nice frame. only do it if you’ve got a frame for beating around the street … it destroys lugwork, and generally doesnt look that nice. its strong though, nice on mountainbikes.


Powdercoating works on electrostatic attraction of ‘powder’ to the piece, then baked in an oven (i think). I guess the changeover of the powder and loading of the sprayguns takes time.

Just to add a bit more info, the particles are a polymer powder that are shot onto the piece and held on electrostatically. The baking cycle then melts the powder which runs and fuses. Thick, strong, but not much detail.

Angus’ budget paint jobs

Dragstar, one can of automotive undercoat, one coat of autotmotive top coat sourced at the illustrious Kmart

Track frame: three coats of high gloss enamel from the local Hip Hop store, worked a treat.