Apart from they're a specialist so they can do decals, coach lines, rebuild/strip the bike, is there any difference in how they would paint it?

The professional places charge £200-300 (UK) to paint a frame and restore decals, respray etc. but at a general powder-coating company it's £50. It's very expensive and I'm reluctant to spend that kind of cash.

  • Are stickers that important to you? Powder-coat is typically stronger.
    – paparazzo
    Sep 21 '17 at 18:21
  • 1
    Are both places doing the same work? Will the powder coat company disassemble and reassemble the bike for their price? Is the resto specialized shop disassembling and reassembling the bike for their price?
    – mikes
    Sep 21 '17 at 18:33
  • Preparation work is equal to or more important than the actual painting. If the paint doesn't key into the subsurface layers, then its going to fail quicker. Which companies do the prep work ? This may be blasting with shot/walnuts/sand/glass or it may be laborious hand/machine sanding.
    – Criggie
    Sep 21 '17 at 20:44

A really good question and one that a pro in the bike painting/PC business would be best suited to answer, but this is what I know about it:

  • Bikes need special care, or at least an operator that understands the important parameters, in the stripping, blasting/prep, and heating stages. For example, I've heard horror stories about taking a frame in to a general industrial powder coater or painter and they used a torch to assist in getting the original paint loose, but got overzealous (i.e. didn't calibrate their actions for how little mass bike frame tubes have compared to their typical work) and destroyed some brazed joints and braze-ons. Similarly, a lot of blasting media is well capable of damaging brazed joints if not used with care. Bike people have equipment setups and technique that make it a non-issue, but bad things sometime happen when more general purpose companies do it. (Note that I'm not trying to pigeonhole anyone, and there are a lot of very thoughtful people that work at said general purpose companies who can correctly handle any metal object you give them, but I do think the risk is there.)
  • Finish work on bike frames well is more highly specialized than many imagine, especially when it comes to showcasing and not obscuring fine details, particularly on lugged bikes, and especially on upper end/handmade ones where the builder has done lots of thinning and shoreline work. With powder in particular, companies are mostly in the business of putting big thick economical coatings on relatively smooth, round, heavy things. There's a much smaller subset of powder companies that specialize in thin but durable coatings like what you'd want on bikes. (There's also a whole other discussion about how thinner might be inherently more durable with various finishes, especially powder, at the trade-off of taking more work to do right.)
  • then is there steps I can do myself to reduce risk of this?
    – Ageis
    Sep 22 '17 at 23:36
  • I think the simple answer is if you do go with a local powder company, make it one that shows some care and knowledge about bikes. In theory if you handed them a bare metal frame that would reduce risks, but stripping factory paint can be a lot of work/mess and they'll probably need to give it a final prep with their blaster no matter what, so you need to trust them on that front. (The risk is much less though if all they're doing is a quick run through compared to the kind of concentrated work in books and crannies that's often needed to strip factory paint.) Sep 24 '17 at 1:07

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