Have you always wanted to customize your bike and make it look cooler? If the answer to that question is a resounding “yes,” then it’s no wonder you came here wondering… “Can I spray paint my bike’s tires?”
Let’s just say that by the time you’re done reading, you will wonder no more. In this post, we will talk about how to paint bike tires—and what kind of paint to use.
You can spray paint your bike’s tires, but you must use paint that’s suitable for rubber. If you use the wrong kind of paint, the tires will crack and damage in no time.
As you can probably guess, spray painting rubber is one of those things that’s easier said than done. But with the right paint and a little technique, your bike can look one of a kind in no time.
Is It a Good Idea to Spray Paint Your Bike Tires?
Spray painting your bike’s tires is fine, as long as you use a type of paint that won’t degrade the rubber.
As a matter of fact, giving your tires a new color can have several pros, including:
- It makes your bike distinctive and easier to find, especially in a crowded bike rack.
- Since the tires are no longer pitch black, the bike becomes more visible to motorists at night.
- Chances are that the bike will also become less attractive to thieves because it will be easier to spot and therefore harder to sell.
- You can change the color at any time without needing to change the tires.
There are two sides to every coin, and painting your bike’s tire does not come without cons:
- The paint will chip and peel within a few weeks to a couple of months. In order for your bike not to look ugly, you need to do this again.
- If you don’t do this with the right kind of paint, the chemicals in it can damage the rubber and render an otherwise good pair of tires unusable.
- The process is messy, takes time, and doesn’t guarantee great results from the first time.
- Painted tires, especially in bright colors, get dirty really fast. And you need to clean them carefully so that the paint doesn’t chip off.
You may wish to buy tires of the color you want instead. But this can be pricey, since colorful tires are still somewhat rare—and most bikes retail with stock black tires.
What Kind of Paint Can You Use on Bike Tires?
The TL;DR version?
Opt for high-quality rubber coating over spray paint.
The paint that you choose for your bike’s tires will need to be durable, because it’s going to be exposed to rolling, bumping, sunlight, and moisture. Whether you ride your bike in the sun, the rain, the snow, on sandy beaches or salted roads, it’s the tires that wear out the most.
The paint must be safe to use on rubber and flexible enough to resist cracks. Otherwise, it can dry out on your tires, cause them to crack, and make you have to replace them sooner than you would otherwise have (despite the cool look!).
What you need to use will depend on what’s available in your area. Generally, rubber coatings, acrylic paint, and marine paint are your best options.
Wherever you live, consider Plasti Dip’s rubber coating. It comes in all kinds of colors, and motorists and cyclists swear by its durability. Some say it lasts upward of months before needing a re-spray.
Another option is the Krylon Fusion All-In-One Paint. It’s a paint that’s meant for application on all kinds of surfaces without dusting and sanding, and it’s touted to last much longer than other products on the market.
You should make sure that any paint you choose is also non-toxic. You are going to be using it in an outdoor space—and it is inevitable that flakes and traces of the paint will eventually rub off and be washed into the ground.
Where to Buy Tire Paint
You should be able to purchase tire paint at a range of craft stores or hardware stores in your local area.
It is also stocked by online stores such as Amazon and eBay, and you may find that a greater range is available if you purchase it online.
You could also try your local mechanic store, where you may be able to get paint that is suitable for both car tires and bike tires.
How Do You Spray Paint Your Bike’s Tires?
Step #1: Unmount the wheels
If you want to spray-paint your tires, you will need to start by removing the wheels from the bike. Once the wheels are off, remove the air caps and press on the air valves of each tire to deflate them. The tires should then be easy to lift off the wheels.
Step #2: Separate the inner tubes from the tires
Remove the inner tubes from both tires and put them to the side, then move your tires to a space where you can safely spray them without damaging anything. Keep the tires out of the sun while painting them. (Rain and snow are also out of the question.)
Step #3: Clean the tires with soapy water and dry them thoroughly
You should make sure that the tires are perfectly clean before you start spray-painting them, so you may need to clean them at this point. Any grease and dirt that remains on the tires may prevent the paint from adhering properly, so the cleaner the tires are, the better.
Wash them with lukewarm soapy water, give them a good pat-down with an old rag, then allow them to fully dry for 12 to 24 hours before you move on to the next step.
Step #4: Cover the tips of the treads with masking tape
Use masking tape around the tire treads to stop the paint from covering these parts. You don’t want any paint here, as it could reduce the traction and may make your bike less safe on the roads.
Once you have masked the tire treads, you can start spraying the tires with your chosen color. Hold the spray can 5-6 inches from the tire and spray-paint against the sides of the tires, creating an even coat across the rubber.
Step #5: Give the paint time to dry fully
When you have finished spraying the tires, leave them to dry for 24 hours, away from direct sunlight. Do not add a second coat; one should be sufficient. If you wish to add designs, you can use a paint stick or paint pen at this point, and then leave the tires for a further 24 hours to continue drying.
Once everything is dry, add the inner tubes back into the tires, inflate the tires, and put them back on the bike.
If you want to spray-paint your bike tires, you will need to make sure you’ve chosen a suitable paint, as an unsuitable one will peel off, or could even damage your tires.
Once you have the right kind of paint, remove your tires from the bike, clean them well, and then spray a single coat of paint evenly onto both tires. It should create a band of color that you can decorate further if you choose to.