Helmet Painting Info
Unless you paint helmets for a living or have seen the process from start to finish I don’t believe many people know what it takes to paint a helmet correctly. So I will show you the process I go thru to paint helmets so you have a better understanding of what’s involved to do the job correctly. I keep my clients updated every step of the way thru out the entire process on my tumblr page airbrushartist.tumblr.com/ .
I think the first thing you need to understand is paint is only as good as what’s underneath it, in other words if the proper techniques are not completed correctly chances of the paint failing on a helmet are pretty good. What I mean by failing is the paint will not adhere to the helmet surface as it should which down the road means the paint will chip easily or even come off in patches. Not good.
Starting with paint this is from Bell helmets:
“Paint can react with helmet shell material and affect its protective capacity. The outer shell of the helmet is constructed of thermo set composite materials and finished with a polyurethane coating. It should only be repainted by an experienced and qualified painter with high quality air drying acrylic or polyurethane enamel. In no case should the helmet be dismantled during painting. Paint requiring heat curing should not be used. Paint penetrating the interior of the helmet can affect the performances of the helmet liner and other components.”
Yes the kid at the flea market can paint your helmet for $100 maybe but you are putting your brain bucket at risk to save a few bucks, not a good idea. As Bell suggests work with a experienced, qualified helmet painter for best results.
When a helmet comes into the shop the first thing that is done is you are e-mailed the helmet arrived and work has begun. On every helmet the trim is carefully removed along with all the vents as the paint and clear coat should be under those parts and not butt up against them. If those parts are just taped off and paint and clear coat are applied you end up with an edge along all those parts, not very professional looking and gives the paint a good place to start failing. If the vents are left on and not properly prepped the paint will not adhere and eventually it’s going to come off. The vents are painted separately to match the design or graphics and installed after the final clear is applied. When the helmet is completed new rubber trim is put back on so it looks just as it did from the factory.
Above is a helmet with trim, Hansa device removed, sanded and cleaned. Lucky that temp design you see on the helmet was not used and I came up with a design the custom was very happy with. To prep a helmet correctly involves removing the visor, trim, masking the interior, sanding, cleaning generally takes up the better part of a day.
Next is the helmet design, paint phase.
This part of the project can take any where from a day or two to a week depending on the design. I use only House of Kolor paint and clear the same paint that all those custom bikes,cars and trucks in hot rod magazines you see are painted with. The only way to work thru this phase of the process is by communicating often with customers so that when the helmet arrives there are no surprises the helmet looks exactly like what we have been discussing all along from start to finish.
Finishing the helmet
With the graphics, design painted the helmet goes into the spray booth for first coat of clear. The clear is allowed to dry and the entire helmet is wet sanded and clear coated again so when you receive the helmet you can not feel the design or graphics under the clear coat.
After the second coat of clear has dried the entire helmet is again wet sanded and buffed and polished to a better than factory finish. All trim is installed along with the visor and Hansa device and the helmet is ready to return to the customer.
There you have it the entire process start to finish. I hope you have a better understanding of all it takes to correctly custom paint a helmet.
Call or text me any time with your design ideas, requirements 1-352-361-3403
Be sure to check out the GETTING STARTED page for more information.
Above is a video of some of the helmets I’ve painted.