How to paint bike fairings

Painting a motorcycle's plastic fairings to a fair degree of success can be a challenging project for most motorcyclists. A passable paint job can be accomplished with a quick coat of store-bought spray paint, but the results are usually best viewed from a 10-foot distance. While expensive automotive paints will produce a better finish, spray paints can also be used effectively at a lower cost, provided that meticulous attention is given to the fairing's preparation and painting technique. If you insist on using automotive paint, be sure that you can use it effectively to avoid costly mistakes.

Remove any decals or badges from the fairing, using a razor blade to separate the decal's adhesive from the fairing's surface. Clean off any remaining adhesive residue with a sticker adhesive removing cleaner. Wash the fairing with a mixture of mild soap and warm water to remove any oil and dirt from the fairing's surface.

Sand the entire fairing with sandpaper soaked in soapy water. Use a 600-grit sandpaper to lightly scuff the fairing's original paint. Sand down damaged or scratched areas on the fairing with a 300- or lower-grit sandpaper, depending on the severity of the damage. Dip the sandpaper in soapy water frequently to prevent the sandpaper from clogging with sanding dust.

Rinse the fairing thoroughly with clean water. Wipe the fairing dry with a lint-free cloth and allow it to air-dry for at least one hour.

Repair any damaged areas or low spots in the fairings surface with a high-quality body filler. Allow the body filler to cure for at least 30 minutes. Wet sand the repaired area with a 600 grit sandpaper soaked in soapy water until the area is smooth.

Wipe the entire fairing with a lint-free cloth and denatured alcohol to remove any remaining oils, grease or sanding dust.

Prime the fairing, using filler primer to fill in any remaining low spots or small scratches on the fairing's surface. Hold the primer nozzle approximately 20 inches from the fairing. Press the nozzle and move the primer quickly from side to side to lightly coat the fairing with primer. The primer should appear as a layer of dust on the fairing. Allow the primer to tack for at least 10 minutes.

Hold the primer nozzle 12 inches away from the fairing and apply a solid coat of primer. Start from the bottom of the fairing and move horizontally from one side to the other. Start spraying the primer a few inches before the fairing and stop a few inches past the fairing to prevent runs caused by over spray. Apply a second coat once you have sprayed the top of the fairing, starting again at the bottom. Allow the primer to dry for at least 10 minutes and repeat again.

Allow the primer to cure for at least 48 hours. Wet-sand the primer coat with a 1200-grit sandpaper soaked in soapy water. Rinse thoroughly with fresh water and wipe dry with a lint-free cloth.

Apply the base colour and clear coat following the same procedures.

Wash the fairing with mild soap and water to remove dust particles that can damage the clear coat.

Wet-sand the clear coat layer, using 2000-grit sandpaper soaked in soapy water, to remove imperfections in the clear coat. Rinse thoroughly and wipe dry with a lint-free cloth.

Buff the fairing lightly with an electric buffer to achieve the desired shine.


Work in a sealed paint booth to prevent dust and insects from contaminating the fairing's paint.


Wear a respirator mask and eye protection to prevent eye and lung irritations caused by sanding dust and paint fumes.

Things You'll Need

  • Razor blade
  • Sticker adhesive removing cleaner
  • Mild soap
  • Water
  • Lint-free cloth
  • 300-, 600-, 1200- and 2000-grit sandpaper
  • Denatured alcohol
  • Body filler
  • Filler primer
  • Base colour paint
  • Clear coat paint
  • Electric buffer
Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

An avid motorcyclist, Chris Gilliland has immersed himself into the two-wheeled world while balancing work life and raising three daughters. When he is not managing the parts department of a local, multi-line motorcycle dealership, Gilliland can often be found riding, writing or working on his motorcycle blog, Wingman's Garage.