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Can You Paint a Motorcycle Helmet? What You Need To Know!

motorcyle helmet

Many people like to paint their motorcycle helmets to match their bikes or to make a personal statement, but is it legal to do so? The short answer is yes, you can legally paint your motorcycle helmet, but there are several things to consider before you do so, so keep reading as we look at the pros and cons of helmet painting and what type of paint you should use.

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Is Painting a Helmet Legal?

Many states in America only require you to wear a helmet until you are 18 or 21. A few states, like New York, New Jersey, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington, among others, require adult riders to wear helmets. There don’t seem to be any laws prohibiting applying paint or stickers to your helmet, but that’s not to say that you won’t get pulled over if you put something offensive or distracting on the helmet, which might lead to a fine. If the painted helmet looks unsafe or homemade, you might also get pulled over, especially in states that require you to wear a helmet.

person sitting on a motorcyle with helmet
Image By: HELMEnt, Pixabay

divider 7 When Should I Avoid Painting?

To Make It Look New

Motorcycle helmets expire after 3 to 5 years under the best conditions. If your helmet looks so damaged that it needs paint, it’s time to get a new one. Motorcycle helmets wear out because the dense foam inside compresses and deteriorates, providing less protection in an accident. Resins and glues can also deteriorate from heat, sweat, and other chemicals, and the hard outside shell can become compromised from reflecting airborne particles.

If There Is Damage

If you notice any chips or scratches in the helmet deeper than the paint, the surface is compromised, and it’s better to get a new helmet to protect your safety. Such damage would include accidentally sanding too deep when preparing the surface, so you must be extra careful. Before painting a helmet, ensure that all internal foam padding is accounted for and in good shape.

divider 7 What Kind of Paint Should I Use?

Water-based acrylic paints are the best kinds to use with your helmet because they are durable and don’t contain the solvents and chemicals that you might find in oil-based paints. These not only smell bad and make cleanup harder but also soften the plastics in the helmet, which can significantly reduce its safety rating. Another type of paint to avoid when painting a motorcycle helmet is spray paint. Many have chemicals that can damage the foam in your helmet, and since the aerosol particles are so small, it’s difficult to prevent them from doing damage.

Water-based acrylic paints provide a huge selection of colors without the risk of damage.

skull painted helmet
Image By: Alexnewworld, Pixabay

How Do I Paint My Helmet?

If you are a good artist, it’s not hard to put pictures, patterns, designs, etc. onto a helmet with acrylic paints and a brush. If you are a beginner, we recommend going with a solid color that matches your bike.

  1. Start by cleaning the helmet with a mild detergent, like Dawn dishwashing liquid or a commercial helmet cleaner.
  2. Remove any removable parts, like the visor and removable internal padding, so you don’t accidentally get paint on them.
  3. If you are going to paint the design, sketch it out with a pencil. You can also use newspaper, masking tape, and painter’s tape to create edges and protect parts of the helmet that you don’t want to paint.
  4. Start painting by applying a base coat and then letting the base coat dry before adding detailed color and accents.
  5. When your painting is finished and dry, you can add a clear coat to help protect it.

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There doesn’t seem to be any laws preventing you from painting your helmet; many places would likely just be glad to see you wearing one. Only use water-based acrylic paints on new helmets with no damage. Never try to use paint to repair or make an old helmet look new.

Featured Image Credit: HELMEnt, Pixabay


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