How to Paint a Drum Set – DIY Easy Guide for Shells, Rims & More!

Author: Pat Freling | Updated: | Affiliate links may be present.

Painting a drum set takes precision and patience. You have two different methods to choose from, depending on what you are looking for. To get you started, let’s discuss these options.

What Are Your Options for Painting Drum Shells?

You can choose between removing the wraps of the shells or painting over them.

Removing the Wrap

Removing the wrap from the shell is an invasive method and requires a few more tools. You start by removing all the drum heads, rims, and hardware.

Place them into small plastic bags as not to lose anything. Have a look at where the wrapping meets. There are usually tiny screws or staples on the edges, so make sure these are removed.

Using a heat gun like this, heat the adhesive between the wrapping. Use the low heat option as not to burn the shell. With a putty knife, gently lift the wrapping, moving in small sections. You can use a hairdryer as well but it is not as effective as a heat gun.

Once removed and the area is still hot, check to see if any adhesive is left behind and use your putty knife to lift it off.

Sometimes if you are lucky, you can peel the adhesive off with your hands. If the adhesive is stubborn, take your heat gun and heat the end of the putty knife, and gently lift the adhesive from the shell.

Sand the Shells

The next step is to sand the shells, but check your shells for any cracks or splinters before you do this.

If you find cracks or splinters, you will need to fill them with fast-drying paintable wood filler and wait for it to dry. Using 220 grit sandpaper, sand down the shell and wipe it clean with a dry cloth.

Prep Your Shell

You must cover the inside of your shell to avoid getting paint in there. Newspaper and masking or painting tape will do the trick.

What Paint Should I Use?

Most drums are painted with lacquer or acrylic enamel paints like this one from Majic. You can also use spray paint depending on what you are looking for.

It is always best to do two coats of paint, remembering to let the first coat dry before applying the second one. Once dried, you can decide whether or not you want to do a stencil or pattern using spray paint.

Leave the drums to dry for at least 24 hours, and then apply the Polycrylic semi-gloss clear coat. Leave your drum set to dry. Take this time to clean all your hardware. SOS pads work wonders. Once dried, you can reassemble your drum kit.

Painting Over the Wraps

Painting over the wraps is an easier option and takes less time as well.

Remove the Hardware

Start by removing the drum heads and hardware. Remember to store them in plastic bags.

Tape It Up!

This step can take a while, but you need to carefully ensure that the areas you don’t want painted are correctly covered. Don’t forget to cover the inside of the shell.

Sand the Wrap

Before you start painting, gently sand the wrap using 200 grit sandpaper to create better adhesion for your paint. Clean the wrap with a dry cloth after sanding.

Painting the Wrap

Apply primer for a base coat to provide better adhesion and wait for it to dry. Once dried, you can start with your first coat of spray paint. Leave it to dry for 12-15 minutes and apply the second layer. If the color is still too light, try a third layer.

Once dried, you will need to apply a varnish, like this one from Rust-Oleum, and leave it to dry for 24 hours.

Remove the Tape and Reassemble

After 24 hours, you can start to remove the coverings and tape. Reassemble your drum kit and start jamming!

Painting the Rims & Hardware

Since the rims and hardware are made from metal, you may think that you can’t paint over them. Well, it is possible, and this is how you do it.

Sand Your Rims and Hardware

Using 80 grit sandpaper, gently sand the rims and hardware to help the paint adhere better. Next, clean them with a degreaser and let them dry. Once dried, place them on some drop sheets so you don’t get paint all over.

Now you need to apply the primer. You need about three coats, waiting 5-8 min for them to dry between coats. Using a scratch pad, scrub the rims and hardware and then rub them clean with rubbing alcohol.

Now you can use the spray paint of your choice, ensuring you wait 10 minutes between each coat. For your desired look, apply as many coats as you deem necessary.

Lastly, you will need to use a clear lacquer to protect your paint and add a glossy sheen. You can use Spray Max’s 2k ClearCoat for this. Leave the rims and hardware to dry for 24 hours, and you are good to go!

Final Thoughts

Always remember to practice safety when performing DIY projects. You should wear gloves, masks, and eye goggles at all times.

Despite which method you choose, this is going to be a challenging task. You need to be 100% sure you have the time and patience to repaint your drums before starting.

Even though it is a huge task to undertake, customizing your drum set to your unique creative needs will leave you feeling satisfied and accomplished.

About Pat Freling

Pat has been into DIY painting since he was 14 years old. He's painted interior walls, decks, patio, and even the first car that he'd purchased at 18.

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