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Spray-painting a helmet?

post #1 of 49
Thread Starter 
I have a 3-4 years old helmet and it's in good condition. But, I'm just sick of the shiny silver color. I was wondering if I could spray paint it. Would it be good to lightly sand the helmet first? Has anyone done this before?

thanks
post #2 of 49
Yeah, sounds right to me.  I've never sprayed a helmet but I did mine w/acrylics.  Light sanding, wipe w/turpentine, spray it how you like it and finish w/a clear coat.  Good to go!
post #3 of 49
 Scuffing the helmet will give it some "tooth" for the paint to stick to.  I would not use turpentine or solvent before an acrylic paint unless it was to get off sticky sticker residue.  Use a tack cloth to clean the dust off if you need to remove sanding dust.  I like Krylon spray paint for plastics and Rustoleum for other substrates.  I don't think a primer would be necessary with the Krylon.  The clear coat is optional, but should increase durability and make it look cooler.
post #4 of 49
The turpentine worked fine for me, but what tpj didn't mention is that he has way more experience in these matters than I do.  I would definitely go with his advice.
post #5 of 49
TSP (Trisodium Phosphate) is the best option for cleaning.  Home depot has it.  Very, very lightly sand with a high grit sang paper...scratches will show up other wise.  You really only use primer on plastic if you are drastically changing the color.  Krylon plastic spray paint is great.

Spraying is tricky, very light coats is key.  10 minutes minimum to evaporate the solvents in the paint before next coat.  After about 5 or so coats it will look slick.  Dry 24 hours, clean with soft cloth, then apply a clear lacquer finish for shine and durability, coats are personal preference on finish.

post #6 of 49
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by huhh View Post

TSP (Trisodium Phosphate) is the best option for cleaning.  Home depot has it.  Very, very lightly sand with a high grit sang paper...scratches will show up other wise.  You really only use primer on plastic if you are drastically changing the color.  Krylon plastic spray paint is great.

Spraying is tricky, very light coats is key.  10 minutes minimum to evaporate the solvents in the paint before next coat.  After about 5 or so coats it will look slick.  Dry 24 hours, clean with soft cloth, then apply a clear lacquer finish for shine and durability, coats are personal preference on finish.


Does that mean fine sand or large sand on the sandpaper?
post #7 of 49
Thread Starter 
I would prefer the helmet not to be shiny, kind of like a faded color. Is this possible? If so, how?

Shiny: http://www.bobbysbest.com/images/products/giro-fuse-ski-helmet.jpg

Not Shiny (Faded): http://www.thesportsemporium.co.uk/acatalog/casehelmet.jpg

Thanks for all your input
post #8 of 49
 TSP is a great cleaner.  I don't think you should need it if you do a good job on the scuffing step.  TSP can leave a residue that might interfere with paint adhesion unless you rinse it off with plenty of water.  It won't do much on sticker residue.  If you have that remove it with solvent before scuffing.  The Krylon that I recomended is the Fusion type made specifically for plastic.  Applying several thin coats is MUCH better than a few thick coats.  The first coat may not cover well, but the next several will get the job done and you will have fewer runs and such.  Spray paint drys very fast in thin coats.  The paint itself comes in different sheens.  The higher the gloss, the higher the durability.  You might get a cool effect with a gloss or semi gloss paint and a matte clear coat.  One nice thing about spray paint is it's pretty cheap and you could respray it pretty easy if it didn't work out. 
post #9 of 49
Tetonpwdrjunkie is right on. Your first coat is referred to as a "frost coat". This will give you an idea of what your helmet should look like at this point. You can use a clear coat to complete the project but, DO NOT use a laquer finish. Laquer on top of enamel will crinkle up and it will be a real mess to fix. Easier to buy a new helmet at that point. Remeber, if you proceed with this project, we need pics!

Karl
post #10 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by orionxprss View Post

Tetonpwdrjunkie is right on. Your first coat is referred to as a "frost coat". This will give you an idea of what your helmet should look like at this point. You can use a clear coat to complete the project but, DO NOT use a laquer finish. Laquer on top of enamel will crinkle up and it will be a real mess to fix. Easier to buy a new helmet at that point. Remeber, if you proceed with this project, we need pics!

Karl

Forgot Fusion is a Arcrylic, so you can only mix lacquer with it not use it as a top coat.  Just used to using my sprayer for these types of projects.  A clear enamel on top of it would be the best way to go.  Personally i would still use a primer....



Quote:
Originally Posted by Downhillin99 View Post




Does that mean fine sand or large sand on the sandpaper?

Find grit 600+ with a very light touch.  You're scuffing it, not sanding it.
post #11 of 49
Thread Starter 
more questions...

So, does anyone know how to make the helmet faded/not shiny?
Would I just use a paint with less gloss?
Or would the durability not work?
Is a clear coat shiny?
I'm totally new to this so some of these questions probably sound dumb.

Thanks for all your input (again)
post #12 of 49
Use a paint with a flat finish instead of gloss or semi-gloss for a non shiny finish. Flat finishes usually are not as durable as gloss.
Yes, clear coats are shiny.

Karl
post #13 of 49
 Do not attempt to alter the appearance of your helmet. That is safety equipment for your precious brains, not a canvas for your precious self-expression.
post #14 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by telerod15 View Post

 Do not attempt to alter the appearance of your helmet. That is safety equipment for your precious brains, not a canvas for your precious self-expression.
Yea I was wondering if the paint would somehow weaken the plastic...maybe Im reading too much into it...
post #15 of 49
Thread Starter 
yea that's a good question. Would the paint/primer/cleaner/clear coat somehow weaken the helmet?
post #16 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by Downhillin99 View Post

yea that's a good question. Would the paint/primer/cleaner/clear coat somehow weaken the helmet?

Yes it would.
post #17 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by telerod15 View Post

 Do not attempt to alter the appearance of your helmet. That is safety equipment for your precious brains, not a canvas for your precious self-expression.

I'm all for safety, but... seriously?  He wants to put a coat or two of paint on it.  The odds of this reducing a helmet's protective properties are pretty slim.

Are stickers okay, or are those also going to get you killed? 
post #18 of 49
Thanks telerod, I'm glad this issue came up here.

Mine is still warmer and more comfortable than a hat.
post #19 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by bumpfreaq View Post

Thanks telerod, I'm glad this issue came up here.

Mine is still warmer and more comfortable than a hat.

I'm sure it still provides more protection than a hat.
post #20 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by Matthias99
Did the manufacturer of your helmet issue a warning not to put stickers on it? The manufacturer of my helmet did. I put a few small ones on anyway. I'm kind of a risky guy.
post #21 of 49
 I checked out the spray paint section today.  The Fusion comes in a flat.  I would use that.  It even was stocked in pink if that's your thing.  A clear coat is optional, but you can get clear urethane in matte sheen and it won't be shiny.  As Huhh stated you would run the risk of blistering an acrylic finish with some lacquers.  I would do a test sample before committing on the helmet.  I have been a pro painter for 20 years and might use spray equipment on a project like this.  I also might not, as buying a quart of paint is more expensive than a can and I hate left over paint.  The quart would be a better quality material and would be available in an infinite color range.  I just did a round of ammo cans for my boat and used the Pro Rustoleum that I bought on close out.  Much easier than involving the spray equipment.  I took a few semesters of organic chemistry in college and don't think that the application of an acrylic paint will significantly degrade the plastic on your helmet shell.  I wouldn't dip it in acetone, lacquer thinner, or another serious non polar solvent though.  Have fun with it.
post #22 of 49
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tetonpwdrjunkie View Post

 I checked out the spray paint section today.  The Fusion comes in a flat.  I would use that.  It even was stocked in pink if that's your thing.  A clear coat is optional, but you can get clear urethane in matte sheen and it won't be shiny.  As Huhh stated you would run the risk of blistering an acrylic finish with some lacquers.  I would do a test sample before committing on the helmet.  I have been a pro painter for 20 years and might use spray equipment on a project like this.  I also might not, as buying a quart of paint is more expensive than a can and I hate left over paint.  The quart would be a better quality material and would be available in an infinite color range.  I just did a round of ammo cans for my boat and used the Pro Rustoleum that I bought on close out.  Much easier than involving the spray equipment.  I took a few semesters of organic chemistry in college and don't think that the application of an acrylic paint will significantly degrade the plastic on your helmet shell.  I wouldn't dip it in acetone, lacquer thinner, or another serious non polar solvent though.  Have fun with it.
Where did you check out the paint selection and the urethane? At a auto parts store? Home Depot?

How would you test a sample? Just a peice of the helmet, if you did that wouldn't that kind of be commiting because you would look pretty dumb with a random colored spot on your helmet.

I'm not investing a lot in this so I'm just going to spray it.

Thanks for your input (once again)
post #23 of 49
 I had to go to the Hardware store in Jackson (Sunrise) to get a specific paint brush that was out of stock at my normal paint store.  I would run a sample to test materials compatability on almost anything.  A piece of wood or cardboard should work fine.  If you had some scrap plastic that would be good too.  Your just looking to see how the color and clear look together and if there is going to be a blistering problem.  I think that the Krylon Fusion was under $5.  One can should be enough to do many coats on more than one hemet.
post #24 of 49
anyone have a good source for stencils, flames and the like? you guys recall Picaboo's tiger helmet? niiiiice!

regarding helmet degradation. some helmets, bicycle style, do not use the plastic shell for anything protective, just cosmetic. The foam layer is the protective component. Other helmets have a hard, re-usable shell. I'd be cautious about altering the properties of that outer shell.
Edited by davluri - 10/13/09 at 9:20am
post #25 of 49
if you google and read the ANSI,ASTM, CE , SNell, etc helmet specs, there are even specs about the appropriate glues on stickers that muct be there like the size or helmet standards sticker.  paint can be a serious no no with a 50-80% decrease in integrity.  helmets have become art in recent years but those pro painters work in cnjunction with manufacturers and use specially formulated paints for each brnad and helmet material.  most often hich end car and motorcycle helmets we see painted are composite and this is much less critical than the plastics used in Snow sports helmets.
post #26 of 49
Maybe I spoke too soon.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sandy Webster View Post

if you google and read the ANSI,ASTM, CE , SNell, etc helmet specs, there are even specs about the appropriate glues on stickers that muct be there like the size or helmet standards sticker.  paint can be a serious no no with a 50-80% decrease in integrity.  helmets have become art in recent years but those pro painters work in cnjunction with manufacturers and use specially formulated paints for each brnad and helmet material.  most often hich end car and motorcycle helmets we see painted are composite and this is much less critical than the plastics used in Snow sports helmets.

Having done a little online research:

1) there's a lot of CYA warnings on everything.
2) a lot of people "know" that paint can weaken/damage helmets (plastic or otherwise), but nobody seems to have sources (other than manufacturer warnings, which seem awfully vague).
3) most people who paint helmets don't seem to think this is a major issue.  (That said, painting fiberglass car/motorcycle racing helmets seems to be more common.)

Bell (http://www.bellracing.info/fiapainting.html) -- at least for car racing helmets -- recommends 'air-drying acrylic or polyurethane enamel' only.

This thread (http://www.goaliestore.com/board/equipment-forum/17302-painting-plastic-helmets.html) on painting plastic hockey goalie helmets recommends fiberglass primer, which (according to them) is stronger than the plastic the helmet is covered with.  YMMV.

Simpson (http://simpsonraceproducts.com/safety-helmets/) -- also car/motorcycle helmets -- recommends acrylic enamel only.

Giro (who happens to make my helmet) says: (http://s3.amazonaws.com/giro-com/documents/25/snow-usa.pdf)

Quote:
We recommend cleaning your helmet with mild soap and water only. The
helmet may be damaged and rendered ineffective by petroleum and petroleum
products, cleaning agents, paints, adhesives and the like, without the damage
being visible to the user.

Seems like a pretty generic CYA warning to me.

I couldn't find any specific warnings about putting stickers on helmets, other than some extremely vague warnings about "adhesives", like the one from Giro above.  (GSnell only requires a warning if a helmet may be damaged by "common" substances:

Quote:
If any of the helmet components are sensitive to common solvents,
adhesives, paints or cleansers... [it must carry a warning label saying so]

ANSI/CSPC is similar, except mandatory and vague:

Quote:

[the helmet must be labeled with...]
A warning to the user that the helmet can be damaged by contact
with common substances (for example, certain solvents [ammonia],
cleaners [bleach], etc.), and that this damage may not be visible to
the user. This label shall state in generic terms some recommended
cleaning agents and procedures (for example, wipe with mild soap and
water), list the most common substances that damage the helmet, warn
against contacting the helmet with these substances, and refer users to
the instruction manual for more specific care and cleaning information.


Again, all extremely generic CYA-type warnings.  (Okay, yes, it's probably a bad idea to wash your helmet with bleach or soak it in a bucket of ammonia.)

I remain skeptical that a few coats of acrylic paint and primer would hurt a ski helmet.

The points raised above about solvents/paint thinner (acetone, turpentine, etc.) seem more substantive.  These can be quite volatile and are definitely capable of weakening or eating away at some plastics.  Spray paints designed for direct use on plastic -- which, essentially, bond chemically to the surface -- I'm less sure about.  Applying primer first would probably minimize any negative effects.  The best bet seems to be sticking with regular acrylic primer and enamel for the base coats.

Disclaimer: IANAL, YMMV, please don't sue me or EpicSki if you paint your helmet and then have a crash... 
post #27 of 49
Thread Starter 
Wow this is way more complicated then I thought it was going to be. I have to clean it with some special stuff, choose special spray paint, and finish with  a clear coat. And in the end it it might even reduce my helmets integrity by 80% with the cleaning chemicals and plastic spray paint.

Sorry guys but I'm not going to get all technical with this. I'm just going to take the stickers off, wash it with soap, dry it, and spray paint it with normal spray paint you get from the hardware/auto parts store (I will take your advice and apply a couple coats). I might  apply a primer before l spray because Matthias said a primer would minimize any negative effects.

Thanks for all the info!
post #28 of 49
 
post #29 of 49
Just wash it, maybe scuff it up with fine sand paper, and spray it with a plastic specific spray paint and be done with it.

Yes it might damage the helmet. The foam inside is what you have to be careful with. Various chemicals will eat away at the foam that is inside the helmets. You are not painting this surface anyways so you just have to be careful not to get anything on it. As others have said the outer shell that you want to paint does not do much more than make the helmet look fashionable.
post #30 of 49
Thread Starter 
Thanks CROSS for making it simple that's what l really needed. Thanks to everyone else too, but I'm just not going to get that fancy with it.

Do you guys still want me to take pictures? (before and after)
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