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How to Sand Down a Bike Frame

How to sand down a bike frame

Tips on Sanding Down a Bike Frame

There is beauty in the raw and unfinished material, which is often hidden by redundant layers of paint. Some bikers like the exposed metal look on their bike. Yet others are dissatisfied with the color of their bike frames, and would like to repaint them in another color.

A friend of mine recently mentioned repainting his frame from a standard black to a more vibrant orange color. This involved having to first sand down the bike frame, in order for the new paint to stick. If you have never repainted your bike before and are contemplating doing so, take note of these pointers!

How to Remove Paint from Your Bike Frame:

There are some things you need to remove the paint from your frame: paintbrush, paint remover, steel wool and sandpaper.

The initial thing to do is to take a cloth and some water. Clean the frame thoroughly. Next, fill a small container with paint remover.

Use the brush to spread the solvent on the frame. You don’t need to make sure it’s absorbed; just put it on top. Apply it one after the other over the entire frame. Then leave the paint remover on the bike for 5-10 minutes, and the paint should start to peel off slightly.

Apply another coat of paint remover after 10 minutes and wait for about 40 minutes. After 40 minutes, use a tool to remove the paint on the bike. Several tools will be suitable for this purpose. Use sandpaper and steel wool to remove the leftover paint from the metal parts of the bike. Sanding will undoubtedly take a while, so be prepared.

This video provides a good overview of the process (credit to Locked In):

Video source:

Which Sandpaper to Use?

Sandpaper is not made of sand, of course, but it is made of fine particles from natural or synthetic sources. The particles (also known as grits or grains) are sieved and sized before being bonded to a paper, sponge or a fabric-type substrate. This creates an abrasive material useful in various do-it-yourself situations.

The size of the sandpaper is essential because not all projects require the same thing. When you buy sandpaper, you will see numbers like 80 grit, 120 grit or 200 grit.

• Smaller numbers indicate larger grains and thicker sandpaper
• Conversely, the higher the number, the smaller the grain and the finer the sand

Generally, you should use lower grit (60-80) sandpaper to remove thick paint, while a thin layer of matte paint can be removed with just high grit (200-220) sandpaper. Some would also use a high-grit emery cloth (320) to finish off for a polished look.

Steps to sand down a bike frame

If you expect the process of spraying and sanding down a mountain bike to be quick and easy, you are sadly mistaken. Although it is not the most challenging task in the world, it can fail quickly if specific actions are not taken.
Steps involved in respraying or sanding down a bike:

• Dismantle the bike so that you are left with only the frame. Try to keep all the other parts neatly in labeled containers or boxes.
• Clean the bike and remove items such as stickers and labels. Wipe the frame using a cloth and degreaser such as WD-40.
• Use sandpaper to remove the old paint. You may also use a high-grit emery cloth to finish off.
• Using a cloth and soapy water, wipe down the frame to remove any remaining dirt or corrosion marks.
• After drying the bike, use painter’s tape to cover parts of the frame you don’t want to paint over (such as openings for bolts and screws).
• Set up a workstation with ventilation for painting. Put on safety goggles.
• Apply a layer of paint primer on the frame.
• After the primer has dried, apply a coat of spray paint in your favorite color
• Reassemble the bike.


Give the bike enough time to dry, make sure you don’t touch it, and place it in an area that doesn’t have many activities going on and is well protected from the weather.

When the paint dries, you can start reassembling the components and start to admire your work.

Remember to compare the refurbished frame with the image you created before you start. Besides the color and quality of the finish, the frame’s structure should be very similar.

If you notice that a part is missing, locate and position it before riding your bike again.

How to sand down a bike frame

Alternative to Sanding – Chemical Stripping

The chemical solvent available for DIY can be quite expensive, so its use can be limited. Chemical strippers work best on thin coats of paint, where one application can remove paint. Besides, thicker coatings may require two or three applications.

There are two forms of chemical strippers widely available; a viscous liquid applied with a brush, and a type of paste that is painted to work wonders.

Whatever type is used, remember that it might contain strong acids or alkalis. Therefore, if you cannot do the work outside, protect the furniture in your room to prevent accidental spills and leaks.

Cesar - October 17, 2020

Hello! this information was very useful. Thanks for taking the time to post this.

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