How to Sand & Paint a Motorcycle

by Jenny Carver

A basic motorcycle paint job at a paint and body shop can cost a couple thousand dollars. If you want a custom paint job, the price is even higher. A really good paint job takes many hours of sanding and preparation, with very little time actually painting. Learning how to sand and paint a motorcycle for yourself can save you thousands of dollars. You can take as long as you want and get a quality paint job done exactly the way you want it.

Purchase the paint, primer and supplies. The primer, paint and clear are available in spray cans, so you don't need a paint gun and air compressor. You can get custom paint mixed, and most large industrial or automotive paint stores can put it into a spray can for you.

Take the motorcycle apart. Remove all of the parts that will be painted, though large parts, such as the fenders and the gas tank, can be left on if the parts around them are masked off and covered with tape and paper. Tape over any openings, bolts or bolt holes so the parts won't be covered in paint.

Sand all of the parts to be painted with 300 grit sandpaper until they are dull and smooth. Use your hand and the sandpaper only. Do not use a sanding block or sander. Sand them again with 800 grit sandpaper in the same way. Wipe the parts down with wax and grease remover.

Spray the parts with three light coats of primer. Allow the primer to dry for 30 minutes between coats. Keeping the sandpaper soaked with water, use 1200 grit sandpaper to sand the primer until the parts are smooth and the primer is even. Allow the parts to dry, then wipe them with wax and grease remover.

Apply four thin coats of paint. Allow each coat of paint to dry for 30 minutes.

Spray the parts with four or five thin coats of clear coat paint. Allow 30 minutes of drying between each coat. Allow the final coat to dry completely (about six hours). Sand with 800 grit sandpaper until smooth and dull. Spray two or three more coats of clear paint and allow them to dry completely.

Sand the clear coat again with 1500 grit sandpaper and water. Keep the paper wet at all times. Sand until the surface is smooth and dull.

Use an orbital buffer with a polishing pad and liquid buffing compound (swirl remover) on the painted parts. Buff until the paint shines. Wipe away any excess compound with a rag and water.

Tip

  • check Always sand and paint in a well-ventilated area or use a paint booth.

Warning

  • close Never sand or spray primer and paint without a painter's mask. Wait at least one month before applying wax to the new paint job.

Items you will need

About the Author

Since 1997 Jenny Carver has served as editor and freelance writer for many offline and online publications including lovetoknow.com, autotropolis.com, "Hoof Beat News," "Import Tuner" and others. Carver owns a custom automotive shop where she has been doing paint and body work, custom interior work and engine building for over 11 years.