How to paint your motorcycle or chopper

Published: 02nd February 2008
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The do it yourself motorcycle paint job.



Lightwieght Filler

Flowable Putty

Primer and hardeners

Epoxy Sealer

Base color Paint

Clear Coat/Hardener

Sandpaper by grit: 80,120,400,600,1500,2000


If you're like me, you don't have the luxury of a down-draft paint booth in your garage.

Here's what I did. I cleaned out a storage room that's attached to the side of my garage.

I lined the walls with white plastic, and placed a multi speed fan in the window.

I then went around with a roll of duct tape and sealed the perimeter of the fan to the surrounding plastic on the walls.

Now onto lighting. After the first time you try painting something, you'll quickly learn just how important good lighting is.

In fact when it comes to lighting, the brighter your paint area the better.

A friend of mine gave me two four-tube florescent light fixtures, which I hung on oposite sides of my new spraybooth. It's good to have reflective walls. Lining the walls with white plastic not only saves your walls, but it's also very reflective.


Before I continue, I want to stress safety. It's a very bad I idea to paint in a room that's attached to your home. In fact, it may be against the law in some jurisdictions. Also, paint fumes are not only super toxic, they're extremely flammable. Make sure your fixtures are wired correctly, and that your fixtures are completely encased with lens covers in place. Last but not least, make sure you have a good quality respirator with the proper filters for the type of paint you're using.


For tools you'll need at least two spray guns, a air regulator with a water filter, a compressor, and of course some air line. As aforementioned you'll need 2 paint guns... one for spraying primer, and another for spraying base and clear coats.


Make certain your gas and oil tanks are pressure tested and leak free before you start.

Ideally, it's good to sandblast your steel parts, especially if they have old paint on them.

If you choose not to sandblast, make sure to sand them really thoroughly and wipe them down with a non oil-based cleaner prior to starting the job.

The next step is to apply filler to the low spots and any trouble spots. It's a matter of personal preference, but I prefer to apply a coat of epoxy primer prior to spraying on the base coat. This gives a nice base for the filler to stick to. Mix your filler in small amounts (it sets up fast) and apply it smoothly and evenly onto your work piece.

After the filler has dried, sand it smooth with 80 grit and look it over for any low spots or nicks, then fill and sand again. After the necessary rounds of filler and sanding are completed, it's time to spray on the primer.

Lay down a couple of coats of epoxy primer. After the primer has dried, get a

spray bomb of black paint and very lightly spray it on your work piece. This is the guide coat.

The light black spray will show any waves, low spots or defects in your handy work. To repair the trouble spots that the guide coat exposed, you'll want to use flowable putty instead of filler. Apply the putty in nice even coats, then smooth it down with 80 grit sandpaper (wrapped around a foam sanding pad). Once you get the high spots leveled down, smooth it down even more with 120 grit, then completing it with 400 grit. You're now ready for the last coats of primer.

After the primer is dry, sand it thoroughly with 400 grit to give it a toothy surface for the base coat to stick to. I like to spray on a coat of epoxy sealer just prior to applying the base color coat. Besides providing a ideal surface for applying the color coat, it also prevents any solvents from popping through and forming bubbles in the clear coat. Be sure to follow the paint manufacturers specification sheets with regards to time between coats, mixing ratios and painting temperature. Failure to following the guidelines will cause you much grief...believe me.


Now comes the color coat. Apply the color coats as per your paint manufacturer's spec sheet.

Next comes the clear. After the first round of clear has dried, wet sand it smooth with 600 grit.

You'll notice ripples appear in the clear as you sand. Continue until the clear is even and the ridges are gone. If you're painting graphics on, now is the time to put them on. After applying the graphics, cover them with another round of clear. It may take one or more rounds of clear to completely bury the graphics. Be sure to wet sand flat with 600 grit between coats of clear.

After the final coat of clear is on, sand it down flat with 600 grit as before. When it's nice and flat, finish it off with 1500 grit. If you want to get it crazy smooth, go for a final round of 2000 grit.


Now for the gratifying part. The final step is to buff it to a mirror finish. You'll need a multi speed polisher, a buffing pad, and some polishing compound. There are lots of different brands of buffing compound available. Your local automotive supply store will be able to recommend something.

This little tutorial is meant to give you a basic idea of the paint processs. For more indepth guide click on the link below.


Motorcycle and Chopper tutorials by

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