Painting a motorcycle helmet is essential for many reasons including increasing your visibility while riding. A good helmet, especially the one with safety certification is a must to protect you from crashes and save your life. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration-NHTSA says that 80% of motorcycle accident victims either die or get seriously injured in comparison to 20% in bus, truck, or car accidents. However, the seriously injured victims who survive from motorcycle accidents usually take a long time to recover and often suffer a lifelong disability and trauma.
In addition, as per the NHTSA study on the motorcycle fatalities in the US from 2008 to 2017, a total of 48728 people died due to crashes. This comes to around 4800 deaths per year which are 14% of total accidents on US roads. In 2015 alone the total motorcycle-related fatality was 5015 whereas 1772 people survived due to helmets. Another 740 people who died due to the motorcycle crashes in 2015 could have survived if they wore helmets. Similarly, as per CDC, 1859 people survived due to helmets and an additional 802 victims could have survived if they wore helmets in 2016.
Therefore, riding with an appropriate safety-certified helmet is inevitable if you want to save your life. But for every rider, besides safety, motorcycle riding is also fun and everyone likes to look gorgeous and stylish while riding. This is the reason no one likes an old, scratched, and faded helmet and thus you either buy a new one or paint it. Buying a new motorcycle helmet is expensive and usually hurts your purse.
On the other hand, painting a helmet is simple and easier and it serves the purpose as they look almost new. However, you need to know how to paint a helmet properly so that they appear as if you bought it yesterday. Know how to paint a helmet below but before that read something important associated with the painting of your helmet.
Is there Anything Important Associated with Helmet Painting?
Painting a helmet the way you wish is indeed a passion for every rider and it is simple, easy, and fun to do. But helmet painting is associated with something important, which may be troublesome for you to ignore. Know what is associated with helmet painting below.
- Is Helmet Painting Legal in Your Country? Helmet painting is legal almost in all countries and states but with several restrictions. However, you need to look for information on whether your country permits helmet painting and if permitted what are the restrictions.
- Restrictions: Motorcycle helmet painting restrictions are associated with protection issues and can lead to a legal dilemma if found unsafe after painting. You must ensure all safety standards prescribed for motorcycle helmets by your State or Country while painting. For example, go into details of the DOT safety certification if you are in the US and ECE in Europe.
- Safety Standard Sticker: This is what can potentially put you in legal trouble if you are desirous of painting your helmet. DOT or ECE or even SNELL have their own rating procedures and some of which are rigorous and considered extremely important. The entire process of the helmet safety certification ensures that the helmet meets all challenges in an accident and saves the rider. Finally, the safety authority prescribes a specific safety standard sticker that is to be attached to the helmet as proof. For example, you will find a DOT sticker on all DOT safety certified helmets that reads DOT FMVSS 218. Similarly, ECE reads ECE 22 05 on its stickers. Remember, you must neither ignore, nor remove, nor forget, not paint over the safety certification sticker at any cost. Wearing a helmet that does not have a safety certification sticker can result in severe consequences. Similarly, in some countries reflecting stickers are mandatory and you cannot paint over them.
- Is Helmet Painting Safe? The ultimate question that troubles many while attempting to paint the helmet is whether this is safe. However, the answer is not expected to be straightforward because a painted helmet can simultaneously either enhance or decrease safety on the road. A brightly painted helmet can effectively give better visibility so that other drivers can easily see you even from far. On the other hand, helmet safety is not about the visual alone. You may weaken the structural integrity of the helmet due to the wrong painting that has damaging chemicals. Some chemicals even are hazardous for your health. Eventually, your carefully painted helmet might turn out to be unsafe and risky for you on the road.
- Type of Paints Suitable for Helmet Painting: The best paints suitable for helmet painting are either acrylic or spray paints. You can use spray paints to give your helmet an urban and graffiti appearance. Spray paints are not expensive and you can not only afford them but choose from a wide variety of colors. In addition, spray paints are easy to apply and you can cover the entire area of the helmet at a go. On the other hand, you will need a brush to paint the acrylic paint. However, the good thing about acrylic paint is that you can do any design, even the word design on your helmet if you use acrylic paint. Besides this, acrylic paint looks more bright, dazzling, and colorful.
- What Color is Best for Helmet Painting and Why? A study conducted in New Zealand that started in 1993 until 1996 and published in 2004 reveals that most riders prefer black helmets as people felt they look elegant on the road. As per the study, 40% of riders’ preference was black whereas white was chosen by 30% of riders. Red was the choice of 14% of riders. But when safety is the main concern white seems to be the best color for helmets because of its visibility. Nevertheless, yellow is another color that is known for its visibility even from the longest distance. Similarly, as per science, yellow and orange colors are counted as the safest colors for helmets in terms of reducing crashes. However, black helmets beyond debate are most popular and sold as the first choice of motorcycle riders across the world.
Why and When Should You Paint Your Helmet?
You can paint your motorcycle helmet in two primary cases or situations. The first is painting your new helmet if you are not satisfied with its design and color or if it does not match the design and color of your motorcycle. The second is the condition of your helmet which is old enough, faded, and has scratches, it does not feel fit for you anymore. All motorcycle riders care about the dazzling color and gorgeous design on their helmets and look awesome. Indeed, who does not like to look cool with a matching and fabulous helmet while riding a motorcycle on the road?
If you are for the first reason and want to get a helmet that matches your motorcycle, you obviously never wish to invest in another one and go on searching for the same. Instead, it is prudent for you to custom paint a good helmet to match your motorcycle. However, if you are planning to paint your new helmet then make sure that the paint you use does not contain chemicals that can damage your helmet. Ask the retailer or manufacturer if you are not sure about the paint and the chemical it contains. You can also ask them about the suitable brand of paint that can support the repainting of the helmet.
Secondly, if you wish to revamp your existing helmet without replacing it with a new one, then you can do it provided it is still safe to use. The lifespan of a helmet is usually 5 years and you should never think of painting it if it has already completed 5 years. Revamping the old helmet is affordable in comparison to buying a new helmet and looks stylish, sleek, and classy.
Preparatory Work and Tools You Need Before Painting Your Helmet
Determine what exactly you want in terms of choosing the paint, color, the safety certification sticker, etc. before you start with the painting. If you are to paint your old helmet then make sure its inner structure or the base material is strong and can sustain the painting. If everything is ready then ensure the following things before initiating the process of painting.
- Prepare the working area and make it dust-free, dry, and clean. An open space or well-ventilated space is better for painting the helmet to minimize the effect of the chemical in the painting.
- A workbench to mount the helmet for painting.
- Keep the paint, brush, a big old newspaper, and a raincoat (to prevent paint splash) ready for use.
- Keep a sticking plaster and markers along with a pencil near you so that you do not search for them when needed.
- Sanding block or sandpaper and clear coat or transparent coat to apply at the end to protect the color and make the painting sustainable.
- Masks and gloves for safety reasons.
Step by Step Painting of Your Motorcycle Helmet
Get ready with the entire above things including the tools and place them over the workbench. Cover the space on the workbench where you will paint the helmet. Wear the mask, raincoat, and gloves and follow the steps below.
Step-1: Remove the visor in the case of full-face helmets and remove any other plastic attachments such as the vent.
Step-2: Clean the entire space of the helmet and start sanding. You can also sand the vent along with the edges and corners of the helmet. However, take care of the outer fiber or plastic while sanding so that they do not get damaged by sanding. Once the task is complete, wash it with soap or detergent and water preferably warm water. Then leave it for about an hour to dry.
Step-3: You can directly proceed with the next step of painting a base coat. If you prefer to create a strong base coat then think of applying two or three base coats.
In the Case of Spray Painting
- Paste the sticking plaster on the spaces of the helmet where you do not want to paint.
- Start with the paint with paint spray and wait for 20 minutes until the paint is dry.
- Draw the skeletons of pictures of your choice using the markers and then paint the skeleton pictures with water paint using several sizes of paint brushes. Take time in the picture painting and wait for at least two or three hours until they dry.
- Spray the transparent paint preferably a no-color transparent paint for the shining and smoothness of your painting. Wait for another 20 minutes once you complete the spraying of transparent paint.
- Remove the sticking plasters and you are done with your helmet painting.
In the Case of Acrylic Painting
- Create the color foundation by painting the surface. You may not paint the entire surface of the helmet but paint the areas where you wish to draw anything you like. Use any of your favorite colors to paint the foundation.
- Draw the pictures or your ideas using the pencil once the paint is completely dry.
- Use several colors as per your preferences and paint the pictures or ideas drawn by the pencil. You can paint several layers but make sure the former paint is completely dry before painting a new layer. You can also use the markers and redraw the pictures or ideas for further clarity of your painting.
- Apply the transparent finish or 3 to 4 layers of clear coats on the entire painting and leave for 15 to twenty minutes. Repeat the same two-three times and ensure that the paint is protected. However, make sure that the inside foam of your helmet is covered with paper or other material before spraying the clear coat. If the clear coat comes into contact with the inside foam, it will eat them completely.
- Once the clear coat spraying is complete leave the helmet overnight so that the clear coat will sit firm. Now, you are almost done with your helmet painting. You need to fix back whatever you removed before painting the helmet and get ready to use your newly painted helmet.
Motorcycle helmet painting is not rocket science that you cannot do it yourself from the comfort of your home. However, if you are not at all confident about following the steps and successfully painting your helmet you can ask for assistance from professionals. However, painting your helmet by professionals might be a bit expensive. Nevertheless, wearing a perfectly painted helmet that matches your motorcycle is an awesome experience. Above all, taking the assistance of professionals is prudent for safety reasons as they will ensure that your helmet is fit to protect you after the painting.