How to prep a helmet for paint

Written by c.l. rease
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How to prep a helmet for paint
Painting changes the look of a motorcycle helmet. (Helmet for motorbike image by Ivonne Wierink from

Customising a helmet allows you to show your individuality and creativity while staying safe. Purchased pre-painted helmets have a high-gloss finish that protects the base coat of paint and eases the process of cleaning the helmet. When applying new paint on a helmet, the high-gloss finish inhibits the new paint's ability to stick to the surface of the helmet. Proper preparation ensures that the new paint adheres to the surface of the helmet without flaking or chipping.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Phillips screwdriver
  • Plastic container
  • 320-grit sandpaper
  • Water
  • 600-grit sandpaper
  • Clean rag
  • Masking tape
  • Tack cloth
  • Aerosol primer

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  1. 1

    Remove attached accessories from the helmet by removing the screws from each attachment with a Phillips screwdriver. Set the screws in a plastic container.

  2. 2

    Wet a piece of 320-grit sandpaper with water. Sand the surface of the helmet, using small, circular motions. Rinse the helmet with clean water after you sand the entire surface of the helmet. Continue sanding if you see any high-gloss finish remaining on the helmet.

  3. 3

    Wet a piece of 600-grit sandpaper. Sand the scratch marks left by the 320-grit sandpaper from the helmet, using small circular motions. Rinse the helmet after sanding. Wipe excess water from the helmet with a clean rag. Set the helmet in a sunny spot for 45 minutes to remove remaining moisture from the helmet.

  4. 4

    Wrap masking tape around all non-removable helmet components. Ensure that no masking tape sits on the surface of the helmet.

  5. 5

    Wipe the surface of the helmet with a tack cloth. Hang the helmet in a secure location.

  6. 6

    Spray three light coats of primer on the helmet by holding the tip of an aerosol primer can six inches from the surface of the helmet and moving the can in a sweeping motion with the spray button depressed. Allow the primer to cure for 45 minutes between coats.

Tips and warnings

  • Lacquer-based primers and paints soften the protective shell of a helmet and should not be used for helmet repainting.

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