Paint recommendations?

Looking for a great painter preferably liquid paint. Could there be an list created for painters?


Welcome @Moontower ! That is a great question. Let me poll some OG framebuilders and get back to this thread. I am sure others can chime-in as well.

Paint is definitely the bottleneck of the custom frame building world. Good painters are hard to come by locally. Shipping the frame is like $100 each way and can always be at risk of getting damaged.

@Carl_Snarl at metal guru for paint. Once I’m better I will use him since he is somewhat local.

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Here is the list that I got. Wet paint jobs can range from $800-$1500. Not to mention shipping each way. For comparison, a powder coated frame costs us ~$200 locally. A good painter is every builder’s dream. I think the key to some brands’ success is that they were able to bring paint in-house, Speedvagen, Stinner, etc…

Dark Matter got extra kudos.

Dark Matter:

Colorado Springs, Colorado

Black Magic:



New Paltz, NY

Land Shark:


Hot Tubes:


Joe Bell:

Spring Valley, CA
link: Joe Bell Professional Bicycle Refinishing Price List

Flux Customs:

Denver, Co

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Oh wow. This makes me feel much better about how long it takes me to paint my frames hahaha


Paint work is expensive. Full stop.

It’s insanely labor intensive, the materials are expensive, the learning curve is steep as hell, the mistakes are frequent and costly.

Little too much clear on that place where 3 tubes meet at funny angles? Now you’ve got a run you have to cut out and buff, didn’t add those hours into the original cost. Too bad. Orange peel? Now you’re cutting and buffing a whole bike. 3 or so more hours.

Everything has to be down to the base of whatever it is, bare metal or carbon or whatever because if you want to offer a warranty, you need to be able to control all of those layers. So you have to prep(scuff/clean) the steel (lets say) etch prime it, scuff that, 2k prime it, scuff that, clean it again, base coats (2-3) and clear 2. And that’s not including any time for graphics or different colors or flake or anything. Base. Clear. And just that is probably close to $200 in materials per frame if you’re using decent product.

If I got $800 to paint a frame, I’d probably end up making about $15/hr? when it was all done. Maybe?

Paint’s expensive.



I’m digging this carcass up because I just can’t get it out of my head.

Is there any interest in having custom, wet paint put on a frame if you could get it done well below those prices? Shipping is still shipping and that’s still a pain but what if you (yes, you) could get an automotive grade base/clear that was cut and polished and smooth and nice in the $400-500 neighborhood? Closer to $400 for stuff like single color and getting into the 5’s if we’re talking flake or pearls or funky patterns or whatever.

Just thoughts. Lemme know what you think. Too much money? Be honest. Thanks!


Cheap paint is like discount sushi: Conceptually the idea is effin fantastic.

But I don’t want to deal with someone that craves nori-wrapped catfood or the person that’s gonna get mad if it tastes “off.”

To that end, any of my customers on a budget get sent to my powdercoater and he deals with them directly.


I agree. I’m not interested in budget paint. I want the best I can get locally. I am fortunate here in Brisbane, Australia I have a great relationship with my painter. He gives me a special price but it’s still the biggest cost out of a frame. My customers want the best finish as well when they are paying top dollar for a product being the frame.


You see, this here. This is the problem. Not you guys, you’re awesome and thanks for taking the time to respond. Hear me out.

I hear: “paint is too expensive”
I say: “if it were more affordable, would it be something people are interested in?”
I hear: “cheap paint sucks” and “nodoby wants catfood wrapped in nori” Awesome example, by the way.

It seems like the line between “too expensive” and “cheap shit” is insanely thin. What if I wasn’t trying to make a living doing this? What if I didn’t need to squeeze every last dollar out of every single job just to keep the lights on? Is it still shitty work if if I charge $40/hr rather than $75? Is there a point that it goes from being a reasonable alternative to cheap shit? I’m not trying to be a dick, I’m honestly asking.

To that end, does every single customer that wants a painted frame have to spend 4 figures to get it? There have got to be people that would be interested in a good, quality paint job that isn’t just for top dollar show bikes, right? Understanding that these are machines that are supposed to get used, or is there really no room for middle of the road here? Everyone that doesn’t want to spend thousands of dollars on paint gets shuffled to the powdercoater?

I’ve run into this with cars, Expensive = Good. I’ve spent so many hours at $65/hr fixing $93/hr shit that looks like it was put together by guys with 11 thumbs, dangerous things that would have killed people, but it was so expensive, it must have been good.

I feel like if I say, “I don’t need to make a million dollars, you don’t want a show quality paint job that you’re afraid to look at for fear of scratching it, let’s meet in the middle and we can both win a little” and everybody acts like I just handed them a dead bird.

and THIS, this, is why I can’t make a business work. :grin:

Thank you for the feedback, i really do appreciate it.


For the record, I don’t think cheap paint sucks and I don’t think the line is really that thin.

I don’t think the line is really that thin. But I do think that customers looking for a deal (on a custom bike or otherwise) are poisoning their own well. There’s a hidden understanding that the person giving the deal is either a sucker or there’s something wrong with the product.

I can deal with people thinking I’m a sucker. Back when I was at one of the top Serotta dealers (late 90s) we’d never discount a bike or labor but we would happily comp the equiv in club clothing, water bottles or nutrition. Clothing, water bottles and nutrition had much higher margins. Discounting the bike or labor lead to customers being on the lookout for something wrong . . .when there really isn’t.

I can see a dust nib becoming a tear down and repaint or cut + buff

  • because I’ve seen seen a cable end falling off turn into full tune-up.
  • because “the only reason you discounted these Ksyriums is because you knew they were faulty”

What I’m totally interested in is batch painting. I’d love to get myself to the point where I finish 10 mini velos or cycle trucks and get them all painted for $200-$300/pc. Single stage would be fine. But then we’re talking about shipping vs dropping them off at my powder coater. FWIW, if you’re local to me I’d rather do paint.

Everything you said makes really good sense, but this just hit the nail on the head. When I had my business, I struggled with pricing, too high and people won’t even listen to what you have to say, too low and they think somethings wrong, or they take it as an opportunity to just absolutely stomp all over you. Because they think you need the money.

And that’s the thing i am the least interested in. I’d tell you to take that job to the powder coater :rofl: