Painting Motorcycle Helmets – Getting the Job Done Right

Painting a helmet isn’t the most common thing to do, but it might be a good idea at times. Are you bored with your old helmet? If so, you’re probably looking for a new one which can sometimes be quite tedious.

Finding the perfect design is trickier than it appears especially if you care for it to match your bike. If that’s the case, you might want to consider painting the helmet yourself.

Now you’re probably wondering how to paint your motorcycle helmet at home, but know that we’re here to explain this to you. Continue reading as we guide you through a step-by-step process of renewing your old helmet.

Can You Paint a Helmet?

The first thing you should know is that not every model can be painted in home conditions, at least not, so it looks decent. Plus, painting such an essential piece of safety equipment isn’t just mere spraying paint onto it. It should be done with care and attention since this is something that protects your head.

So, yes, you can paint it, but you have to be aware you might damage it unless you do the job correctly. Some steps of preparation are more critical than others though they should all be done with care.

Surely, you can paint over the old color, but that’s not the best way to do it. This way, the new look would last as long, and before you know it, the color will start to peel off.

Reasons to Paint

In most cases, people decide to paint their helmets when they get tired of them. Having the same model for a long time almost always results in you being bored with it.

Why not simply buy a new one? Though it’s a logical solution, it’s not always an option. Painting your old helmet is cheaper than buying a new one. Also, why would you spend the extra money and replace it if it’s in good condition?

Some people do this if they’re unable to find the design they like. Helmets come in a wide range of colors, designs, and styles, but sometimes, the shape that fits you might not come in the color you want.

You can also paint it if it’s slightly scratched and stained. Of course, if it’s cracked or broken, you should replace it altogether. However, if it has some stains you weren’t able to wash, you could cover them with a new layer of color.

Gather Your Tools and Clear a Space

As with all other work, you want to gather all the tools and materials beforehand. The last thing you want is to search for certain tools or have to stop the job altogether and go to the store to buy them.

It’s an unnecessary drag and waste of time which is especially annoying if you don’t have that much free time to begin with.

Also, choose carefully where you’ll do this. Keep in mind that you’ll work with paint which means you might stain stuff around you. For this reason, clear the chosen place of all the things you don’t want to paint on.

Depending on the complexity of your desired design, you’ll need:

  • Spray paint
  • Old newspaper
  • Raincoat or old clothes
  • A sticking plaster
  • Markers and paintbrushes
  • Flexible stencils
  • Detergent, wax remover

Remove Dirt, Grease, and Wax

Before you get started spraying paint on it, you want to make sure the surface is clean. This isn’t difficult to do, but it’s among the most critical steps, so make sure not to skip it.

Use any household detergent and make a mild solution with water. This will clean most stains, dry bugs and different debris that stuck onto the surface.

The next thing to do is use a wax and grease remover. Avoid using alcohol or acetone for removing wax and grease since those can damage the surface. Instead, buy an adequate remover. 

Of course, make sure to wear some gloves while doing this because your hands leave greasy deposits that you’re trying to remove.

Prepare the Helmet

If you’re working with your old piece, you have to remove old paint before you add a new one. However, this can be tricky especially if you’ve never done it before. Unless you do this correctly, you might damage the surface and potentially put yourself in danger in the future.

For this reason, you should consider buying a new helmet that’s either black or white. The clean surface gives you the opportunity of creating the desired design without tampering with the helmet as much.

If that’s not an option and you still want to work on the old one you have, make sure to do it with ease and care. Here’s what you should do:

  • Remove essential parts – depending on the model you have, there might be some parts you want to remove now. For full-face models, you should remove the visor, or it could end up covered in paint.
  • Sand the surface – use a fine 400-grade wet sandpaper to remove the sheen. By sanding, you make the surface more suitable for taking the new layer of paint. Sand it until you remove the old paint, but make sure not to go overboard. Too much sanding could damage the fiberglass or whatever material that’s protecting your head.
  • Clean it – once you’re done sanding, take a damp cloth and clean the surface. When it dries, wipe it off with a dry cloth to remove any remaining dust particles.
  • Base coat – give it the first coat of paint and let it dry before you proceed.

Mark the Design

Now comes the crafty and artsy part of this entire process. Though you’re still not grabbing the paint, now it’s the time to map out the idea.

We suppose you already have an idea on your mind or maybe you’ve put it on paper. Either way, you want to trace and transfer it onto the surface of your helmet.

If you still didn’t cover or remove the critical parts such as a visor, go ahead and do this now. Apply the base coat if you didn’t do that either, and you can even add another layer just to be safe.

Create the design you want by covering the parts you don’t want to be painted. Don’t worry if you don’t cover the entire surface you wanted since you can do piece by piece. It’s important to cover the parts you don’t want to color, but you can do the front first, and then back later.

Little Boy Wearing Black and White Helmet

Paint

Once you’ve covered the area you wanted to protect, it’s time to grab the paint of choice. This is when the process becomes even more fun and creative.

Apply one or two coats of paint but make sure to let each dry before adding more. Once it’s dry, remove the paper and proceed to the other side if you chose to do it in a few sections.

The way you paint depends on the overall shape of the construction as well as on what you’re trying to achieve. If it’s a technical design with many details, you’ll need more time, patience and precise tools.

The possibilities are endless, but it all depends on how creative you are. Whatever colors and patterns you’re going for, remember to do it carefully and with patience. The finished design will only look good if you’ve allowed the paint to dry.

Apply Clear Coat

Now that what you’ve created has dried, you should apply a clear coat. Many people often don’t care about this step because they’re too excited to take their new helmet out for a ride. However, this step is critical and skipping it might result in chipped paint sooner than expected.

A clear coat is the one that protects your design. It gives durability and endurance, so you get to enjoy it for a long time. 

You’ve probably worked hard to achieve the perfect pattern you’ve imagined, and for that reason, you should do the required to protect it. Again, allow the coat to dry before you put it on your head.

Reassemble

Once the top clear coat has dried, you can reassemble the helmet. If you’ve removed any parts before you got to painting, now it’s the time to put them back carefully.

If you took the visor off, you can place it back. Still, this is something you should do only if all the paint is fully dried. Otherwise, you might damage the new design by reassembling the piece.

Videos for Visual Learners

We tried our best to explain the process, but you might want to check out a video tutorial as well. It might be easier for you after visually seeing how to do it.

This is among the most detailed videos online. Part one lasts about 19 minutes, and you can find other parts on the user’s channel.

If you’re on a budget, you should check out this video. It’s a quick and simple way of renewing your helmet without spending too much.

Here’s another interesting video on how to achieve a new look. Take about 30 minutes to see it since it’s quite detailed and might help you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can painting the helmet damage it?

The paint itself will hardly ever damage the surface of your helmet. However, the process of renewing the piece might damage it unless it’s done correctly.

As we said, you have to sand the surface in order to make the paint stick to it better. If you happen to sand too much, you might damage the material it’s made of. This could put you in danger down the road.

Also, stuff like acetone and alcohol could harm as well. They might damage the surface or weaken some of its critical materials.

If you only use the tools we’ve mentioned in our list above, it’s unlikely you can do any damage. Remember to be gentle and take your time with this because safety should never be compromised, especially not for looks.

What is Plastidip and how is it used?

This is a type of spray-on air-dry rubber coating. It’s easy and convenient to use, but unfortunately, it’s not the most durable solution. It’s known to peel off quite quickly especially if you often use the treated item.

When it comes to using it on helmets, it’s something we wouldn’t recommend. It has some chemicals that don’t work so well with the chemicals in helmets. They bond and could cause deterioration which is something you don’t want for a piece of your safety equipment.

Still, there’s no proof that Plastidip could damage the helmet, but if you want to take the chance, that’s up to you.

Also, this piece of your equipment is something you’ll use quite a lot, and as we said, Plastidip isn’t the most durable type of coating. It will start to peel, and you’ll find the helmet looking even worse than it did before.

It’s not a bad product, but it’s just not the best for this particular job. It might be a good thing to use to preserve the original paint, but it’s not something you should use as the paint itself.

Can I use a vinyl wrap?

Vinyl wrapping works like a big sticker. It’s one of the easiest and most popular ways of renewing a helmet without actually painting it.

This shouldn’t be too hard, but it might take some trial and error at first. Also, there’s no saying how much time it will take you to do this since it depends on your skill level.

It sounds easier than it is because, even though you just have to place a sticker over it, there are many things you could mess up. Still, the entire process is much safer on your helmet than sanding and painting it.

Keep in mind that vinyl wrapping might also start to peel off sooner than later. It’s probably more durable than Plastidip but cannot match paint.

Conclusion

At this point, you probably understand why some people paint their helmets. It’s a great way of achieving a new and customized look you maybe weren’t able to find in stores.

Plus, there’s something hugely rewarding about the entire process. Once you’re done, you can take it for a ride and tell people you did it yourself when they tell you how much they love the design.

It’s also a great way of saving some money if you already have a fitting helmet sitting at home. If you dislike its color pattern or you just want to freshen it up a little, follow the steps above to do so.

Additional Resources:

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