If clothes make the man, then paint job makes a bike. Having a freshly painted bike makes you feel like having a new bike, but it might cost just as much in some cases.
On average, a professional painter will charge $200-$500 for a paint job and an additional $100-$200 for disassembling the bicycle and stripping off the old paint. If you want to paint a bike yourself, it would cost you between $50 and $150.
My brother recently painted his bike by himself and did an amazing job. I calculated his expenses and compared them to what a professional painter would charge you. I was blown away by how much money he saved.
Is it worth painting your bike?
Painting your bike is absolutely worth it, as the new paint job will give your bike a fresh look. You will feel like you have a brand new bike for only a fraction of the cost.
Sure, paint jobs can cost just as much or even more than a new bike, but if you’re not too demanding in the color scheme, it shouldn’t cost you more than $500. Now show me a new bike that costs less. That’s right; there isn’t any.
By repainting your bike, you also extend its lifespan. A new paint job doesn’t only make your bike look good, but it also protects the frame from corrosion. Any scratches in the previous paint job expose the frame to potential damage, which can cause you many expensive problems if you don’t fix them in time.
Can I paint a bike myself?
Painting a bike yourself is tempting for many people. It bonds you with your bike and makes you proud of what you achieved. Excluding professionals from the equation also means the process will be much cheaper.
You need some skills to do the job correctly. Disassembling and reinstalling the bike will be the most challenging part but can be done even by someone with little experience. There are a lot of YouTube videos available, and if you follow them step-by-step, you will be able to get it done.
When disassembeling a bike, make sure you remove all the plastic parts and bearings, as they can get damaged during the stripping of the paint.
I want to emphasize the importance of the preparation of a frame. If you get it wrong, the final product will not be as good as you would like. Take your time to strip off the paint, sand the surface, and only then start applying primer paint.
Painting the frame is the most enjoyable part. There really aren’t any limitations on how it should look, so go crazy and do it as you please.
The cost of the DIY bike paint job
Most people will choose a DIY paint job as it is much cheaper than leaving it to professionals. Still, you will need to spend around $100, which is still a lot less than what a professional would charge you.
Below is a table of everything you need to paint a bike yourself. Also included are my recommendations on individual products and links to where you can buy them. I didn’t include specific tools you would need to disassemble the bike, as it wouldn’t make sense to buy them only for painting a bike.
|Paint Remover (ONLY FOR NON-CARBON FRAMES)||1||$15-$20||Buy Here|
|Sandpaper #320||One pack||$10||Buy Here|
|Sandpaper #600||One pack||$10||Buy Here|
|Sandpaper #800||One pack||$10||Buy Here|
|Metal Primer (for aluminum bikes)||1||$10||Buy Here|
|Carbon Primer (for carbon bikes)||1||$17||Buy Here|
|Spray Paint||2||$18 (3x$6)||Black: Buy Here |
Blue: Buy Here
Red: Buy Here
Yellow: Buy Here
Green: Buy Here
White: Buy Here
|Transparent finish||1||$6||Buy Here|
Why is professional painting so expensive?
If you leave the painting of the bike to a professional, then don’t expect it to be cheap. It will certainly cost you a few hundred bucks, as their hourly rate is quite high.
The paint itself is one of the cheapest things they will charge you for. You will mostly pay for the painter’s skills. That’s why the price will vary heavily from one painter to another.
Then there’s preparation work. Removing all the bike parts, stripping the paint off, and fixing potential damages on a frame can get quite expensive. And we didn’t even start painting the frame.
The upside of a high price point is that you are sure that the bike will look as you want. Skilled painters can create magnificent custom paintings that will blow you and everybody else away. Also, if something is not done well and causes problems, you know who to blame and from whom to demand repair.
How can I lower the cost of professional painting?
Getting a new paint job is very tempting, but the high price turns many people away.
There are a few tricks for lowering the price, but it will require some time and skills. If you don’t have one or the other, it’s better to leave it to the professionals and pay the full price.
Removing bike parts yourself
A professional painter will always paint only the frame without any other component attached. Therefore, many parts need to be removed beforehand.
Although the bike isn’t mechanically speaking too complicated, you still need some skills, knowledge, and specific tools to take it apart. And even more skills and knowledge are required to put it back together.
If you have the skills necessary and are confident that you can do it yourself, taking the already disassembled bike to the paint shop can save you a decent amount of money. The exact number differs between paint shops, but removing and reinstalling the parts usually costs between $100 and $200.
Stripping the paint off
Before any new paint is applied to the frame, the old paint needs to be removed. That can be done by chemicals or by sanding it. Most of the time, paint shops will use a combination of the two, while you will be stuck to sanding.
The price discount for an already paint-free frame is around $25. In my opinion, stripping the paint it’s not worth your time and nerves. Leave it to the professionals as they have the equipment that makes the process much easier and quicker.
If you’re still deciding whether to do it yourself or not, watching this video might help.
Carbon vs. aluminum – are there any price differences?
By default, professional painting of a carbon fiber frame is more expensive than painting an aluminum one. On average, the difference is about $100, but many factors contribute to the final price.
Ultimately, the price is determined by the condition of the frame. If a lot of preparation work is needed on an aluminum frame, the cost can rise, and painting an aluminum frame ends up being more expensive than painting a carbon frame.