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  1. #1
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    Painting Raw Carbon Fiber Frame

    So I have a chinese carbon fiber frame, and like most out there mine is just plain boring raw carbon fiber. Yeah, the raw cf looks pretty bad-ass, especially in the sun, the gloss finish looks awesome. Buuuuuut, it's been raining almost nonstop for weeks and it looks like it will continue to do so. I have to send in my fork for service anyways so I figure now would be a good time to add some paint to my ride. I've painted lots and lots of things before, with varying results depending on how much effort I put in to it.

    I've mostly painted just metal things before and a few wooden things. Some of those things had an existing finish that I sanded down and primed over, the others were bare so I used self-etching primer for the metal. I've never painted carbon fiber before though, and considering that I ride this bike all over the place, I don't want it coming out looking like sh*t.

    I don't want to completely cover up all the raw carbon, I mostly want to add some accent striping and maybe some decals under a full clear coat. Any advice would be be greatly appreciated. My plan right now is to use some higher quality Krylon stuff, I know it works for just about anything, I figure many light coats with some light wet sanding and a nice clear coat will work, but is there some prep work I should do too?

  2. #2
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    Another idea I was considering was ordering some custom vinyl decals that I could cover with clear coat. That sounds tricky to apply and expensive... so not sure about it.

  3. #3
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    CLEAR COATING OVER DECALS
    You need to sand the existing clear coat with 600 or 1000.

  4. #4
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    Well I've read a ton of stuff all over the internet about doing it and it seems pretty straightforward. My only question is about initially fine sanding. I can't tell if the frame has a clear coat or if I am just seeing a resin layer, either way I am pretty sure I'll need to do some wet sanding before I paint to rough up the surface. The problem is, I don't want to paint over everything. So I am going to have to sand past the edges where the paint is and the raw cf will be left, will the clear coat restore the gloss to the sanded carbon?

  5. #5
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    It's clearcoat not resin.
    It is easiest to sand everything on small surfaces like a frame tube. Then tape and paper off everything not being painted. Then paint one or more likely several light coats of color or one initial coat of primer/sealer and then two+ coats of color.
    Let the color flash and carefully remove the masking tape and paper.
    Clear the entire tube with two light coats. The 600 or 1000 grit sanding marks will be completely filled by the clearcoat. 240, 320 or 80 will not.
    If you or someone else reading this are using a two part automotive urethane clearcoat and get a good thickness on the frame it can be wet sanded when dry with 2000, hit with buffing compound and foam pad polishing compound for a higher gloss.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by eb1888 View Post
    It's clearcoat not resin.
    It is easiest to sand everything on small surfaces like a frame tube. Then tape and paper off everything not being painted. Then paint one or more likely several light coats of color or one initial coat of primer/sealer and then two+ coats of color.
    Let the color flash and carefully remove the masking tape and paper.
    Clear the entire tube with two light coats. The 600 or 1000 grit sanding marks will be completely filled by the clearcoat. 240, 320 or 80 will not.
    If you or someone else reading this are using a two part automotive urethane clearcoat and get a good thickness on the frame it can be wet sanded when dry with 2000, hit with buffing compound and foam pad polishing compound for a higher gloss.
    Okay, that answers most of my questions. What if I plan on using two or three colors? Which will probably require taping back over parts I've already painted. How long should I let the base color dry before masking it for the next layer of color?

    Also, I would like to put a really thick clear coat on that I can wetsand and buff. I am assuming that the clear coat in a spray can won't be adequate, should I just take it to a pro for a heavy clear once I am done with it?

    I am starting to think I should have a pro do the whole thing...

  7. #7
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    You could realistically have a pro paint it for less worry and effort than doing it yourself. Mine cost $50 to have it all painted gloss white, and it turned out perfect. They use a better quality paint than you can get in a rattle can, can finish it in a dust free environment, and bake it on to a harder finish than the spray can paint could ever hope to be.

    Just be very specific to the details, if they don't normally paint bike frames, to make sure it is properly masked off, and not cooked too high for the resin and glue.

  8. #8
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    Find a automotive paint store and talk to the counter guys they should be able to give some ideas on what you need. Be prepared quality materials are expensive.

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