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How to paint your helmet with spray paint

Today I’ll be talking about how to paint your skateboarding helmet with spray paint.
The process sounds straightforward but there is quite a bit of preparation and steps involved if you want to get it right. Check it out below.

Are you sure you want to paint your helmet?

As much as having a custom helmet is cool, painting it does present some challenges and it’s very easy to get wrong if you’ve never done something like it before.
And if you’re thinking of painting a half-shell, I would discourage you from going through with the process – you’d be painting a $50 helmet and spending a good amount of effort and money on materials for it.
Half shells have to be replaced after an impact, so any accident that happens would put that helmet out of commission. I’d say the effort isn’t worth it in most cases. 
But, it is a different story with full faces and Aerodynamic helmets. Those are usually more expensive and I’d say the investment is worth it if you’re looking to make some changes. And they do make excellent bookshelf items when they’re out of commission.

Have you looked around and not found a helmet you like?

Have you looked around and not found a readily available helmet design that is to your style and liking? There are many cool-looking helmets out there.
When it comes to half-shells, S1 helmets has quite a variety available with loads of different shape and color helmets. They have easily the most broad line up of color options out of any helmet manufacturer out there. Just check out this retro style helmet with racing stripes here on Amazon.com.

TSG, New Olders, S1, and Triple 8 all have pretty cool full face options available too and they’re all worth checking out. The TSG Pass pro has some pretty cool carbon options to choose from, check out the racing stripe version here on Amazon.com.


Consider sending it to a professional

Finally, consider sending it to a professional. It will cost you a bit more but you’ll be able to get exactly what you want from a specialist who will get it right the first go. They’ll also be able to paint any complex designs you want to be done. No guesswork!
Here is a list of artist who can paint and have painted longboard helmets in the past:

How to ACTUALLY paint your helmet

OK, now let’s get into how to paint your skateboard helmet. 

Find a design you like

The first step is to figure out the design you want: is it going to be a complex pattern or just a simple coat of paint so you can have a custom color? Check out the Instagram pages linked above for some cool helmets you can draw inspiration from.
Figuring out what you want is key. It’s going to dictate how you go about this and what method of painting you’re gonna use. 

Figure out how you want to paint the helmet (best method)

There are two main methods of painting, you can either use paint markers or spray paint. Paint markers are gonna be better for intricate details – you can freehand and draw in great details with a lot of different colors. 
Spray paint is gonna be better for covering more ground – it’s gonna be easier to coat the whole helmet. A combination of painter’s tape and spray paint will allow you to make more complex patterns. For example, you spray a coat of white underneath, tape it off a design when it is dry and then spray a coat of black on top. You’d then be left with a pattern in white when you take the tape off. 
You can use either however you want, but following the recommended process will make things easier.

Prepare the helmet

The next step is preparing the helmet to be painted. You’re going to want to:

  • Take off the visor and any trim – any plastic parts, anything removable.
  • Mask off the interior with painter’s tape. This is key as the solvents from the paint can’t damage the protective EPS foam essentially rendering your helmet useless.
  • Now you’re going to sand the helmet to get the gloss off. You’re going to want to use 400 grit sandpaper or higher. You’re going to simply want to take the gloss off and not sand into the shell material.
  • Once you’ve sanded and rinsed your helmet, it’s ALMOST time to paint.
  • Stuff a material (maybe newspapers) inside your helmet to protect it against the paint.
  • If you have a white helmet, you don’t need to prime it. With other colors, you will need a flat white primer. Prime your helmet following the painting steps below. Then repeat with the actual color/design you want once the primer has completely dried.
  • It can take a while for the primer to dry, so be patient! You might also have to do more than one coat of primer.

ACTUALLY painting the helmet

After priming, you can now begin painting. You’re going to want to find a well-ventilated area that has no objects, or objects you don’t mind getting paint on. Some paint can fly and stick to random objects and you wouldn’t want to permanently damage anything valuable.
In the case of spray paint, you’re going to want to make broad strokes from about a foot (or 15inches) away. This will allow the coat to apply evenly to the helmet. If you’re too close, the paint could bunch up and start running off – you’d end up with drips on your helmet which you absolutely want to avoid.
Keep applying the paint in short, light, broad strokes and you’ll end up with an even coat. You’re going to want to repeat this a few times to get excellent coverage and so that the paint looks good.
Allow the paint to dry and repeat the process to get a nice coat.
Here’s an example of an octopus design on a full face helmet:

Note: the process should be fairly similar with paint markers. You might not have to paint as much to reinforce the colors though.

What to do after painting?

The final step is to apply the clear coat. The steps are fairly similar as above – you’re going to want to apply clear coats in light, broad, even strokes. You’re going to do this a few times, letting the coat dry each time. Do this 3 times and you should have a fairly great finish.

What do you think? Are you gonna paint your helmet?

Painting your own custom helmet can sound like a great idea for sure – you’ll stand out from the crowd and you’ll get to wear something you actually like. But the process is difficult and it’s easy to make mistakes – it’s not for the faint of heart! I’d highly recommend you send your helmet to someone who knows how to do it. They’ll get it right the first time and you won’t face any challenges.
If you insist on doing it yourself, get something to practice on – a spare helmet maybe? I would allow you to get ready for the real thing.

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