Painting a helmet is a great way to express your personality and fashion sense. You can transform this important piece of safety gear into an attractive accessory. However, before you start painting your bike, motorcycle, or sports helmet, make sure the paint you choose is safe for that purpose. Solvents in some paints can corrode the material the helmet is made of making it less effective at protecting the head. Once you've determined that the paint you use is safe, cover the parts of the helmet that you don't want to paint using masking tape, sketch out the design, and then get started.
Method 1 of 2: Prepare for Painting
Step 1. Check the local laws in your area to make sure that painting your helmet is legal
In some countries, painting a motorcycle helmet can be a violation of road safety laws. That's because the petroleum-based solvents found in many paints can damage the helmet and reduce the protection it provides. Contact the transportation security office in your local area for relevant information.
- Laws on motorcycle helmet modification vary depending on your location, as well as the interpretation of these laws.
- If you wear a helmet that doesn't comply with local safety laws, you could be fined.
Step 2. Choose a paint approved by the helmet manufacturer
Because the solvents in some paints can weaken the plastic in some bicycle, motorcycle and sports helmets, the helmet manufacturer may recommend not painting it. Check the labels that come with the helmet when you buy it and look for warnings about the types of paint to avoid using.
- If you cannot find useful information in the material you received when you purchased the helmet, contact the manufacturer and ask if they recommend safe paints for use on the helmet.
- If the outside of the helmet is damaged, do not paint it. Paint thinner can seep onto the outer shell of the helmet and damage it.
Step 3. Avoid sanding the painted surface of the helmet
If you sand down the existing paint on the hull, you could sand the outer plastic or fiberglass layer inadvertently. This can weaken the outer layer of the helmet, which reduces the effectiveness of the inner layer protection from daily bumps and scratches. If that happens, the helmet's ability to protect your head in the event of an accident may decrease.
If you are buying a helmet for painting, use a matte white or black helmet so you don't have to worry about removing painted designs or glossy finishes
Step 4. Clean the helmet with a mixture of dish soap and water
It is important that you remove dirt and grease from the helmet if you want the paint you apply to adhere to its surface. Fill a small container with warm water and household dish soap, dip a cloth in the mixture, and then wipe the outer surface of the helmet.
After cleaning the helmet, dry it with a clean, lint-free cloth and let it sit for an hour so it can dry thoroughly
Method 2 of 2: Apply the paint
Step 1. Cover or remove any parts you don't want to paint or varnish
Remove removable accessories that you don't want to paint, such as the visor from a motorcycle helmet or a face mask from a football helmet. Simply remove any Velcro fastened parts or pressure gaps. Then, use masking tape to cover the parts you don't want to remove, like the inner layer and the vents. Make sure only the area you want to paint is exposed.
- Use paper or plastic and masking tape to cover the inside of the helmet from the paint.
- Removing the inner shell, vents, or any other essential part of the helmet's frame during the painting process could weaken it, so avoid doing so.
Step 2. Sketch the design on the helmet using a pencil
You can also use stencils, stickers, or tape to make the design. Take your time so that the helmet design looks as you envisioned it.
- Use thin black lines to improve the visibility of the design from a distance.
- To create complex geometric patterns, cut strips of masking tape and distribute them over the helmet.
Step 3. Paint the design with acrylic water-based paints and brushes
These water-based paints are safe to use on helmets. Let each coat of paint dry before applying the next. In this way, each layer will be properly integrated to the surface of the helmet. This will prevent the paint from chipping.
- Apply your base coats first, then add shading, highlights, and any other finishing touches.
- If you want to spray paint on the helmet, opt to use an airbrush instead of a spray can. An airbrush will allow you to cover the helmet with an even layer of paint.
- Do not paint over secure decals that may be on the helmet.
- If you applied masking tape to make the design, remove the tape slowly and only after the helmet paint has dried to avoid inadvertently damaging the helmet.
Step 4. Apply 3-4 coats of varnish to protect the hull paint
Shake the can of varnish for 1 to 2 minutes before applying it to the helmet. That way, the solvent and the varnish will mix together completely. Then, position the nozzle at a distance of one can from the helmet and the sprayer. Move the can from side to side and lightly cover the entire surface of the hull.
- Let the varnish dry for 15-20 minutes. Then repeat the process 2-3 times to make sure the helmet is evenly covered and the paint is protected.
- Use a specific varnish to use on plastic. Check the composition of the varnish before applying it to the helmet to make sure it is safe to use on it.
- Check well before spraying the varnish layer that the inside of the helmet is completely covered. The varnish layer could eat away at the foam inside the helmet.
- Let the varnish sit overnight before reattaching any of the removed accessories.