How Much Does It Cost to Paint a Motorcycle? (Tank & Body)

Author: Elissa Huebert | Updated: | Affiliate links may be present.

A simple coat of paint can make an aging or damaged motorcycle look like new again! If you are in the market for a fresh coat of paint for your hog, keep reading!

What is Involved in Painting a Motorcycle?

There are a lot of partial paint options for a motorcycle. Many owners choose just to paint the tank. For the sake of this article, we’re going to look at price estimates for the entire bike, including the tank, panels, cover, and frame.

Other factors can make a difference in the overall cost. Make sure you take all factors into account when you budget for your paint job.

Paint Quality

A single-stage enamel paint is less expensive than a high-end, multi-stage paint.

Damage

Damage repair should be factored into your budget. Repairs will take more time and materials.

Color Change

A complete color change may require the removal of the previous color or more layers of paint.

Custom Details

If you have a custom, airbrushed design in mind, it will cost more to hire an airbrush artist. Other custom details, such as metallic paint or two-tone paint will add to the cost.

How Much Does a Professional Charge to Paint a Motorcycle?

Regular Paint Job

A simple, straightforward paint job for a motorcycle can cost anywhere from $300-$1500. If the bike needs to be repaired, sanded, and disassembled, the cost of the paint job will be more expensive.

High-End, Custom Paint Job

Motorcycles can be like works of art! For an intricate, custom paint job, the cost could be upwards of $2,000. For this price, expect the bike to be disassembled. Each part will be carefully painted to your specifications. Shop around! Make sure you choose an artist who shares your vision for your bike.

Labor Charges

It will take a professional anywhere from a few hours to 15 hours to paint your motorcycle. Lots of repairs and artistic touches take a while! Most body shops charge $50-$150 per hour for labor. Most of your bills will be labor charges.

Cost per Square Foot for a Professional Paint Job

Obviously, the paintable square footage on a motorcycle will vary from bike to bike. Let’s estimate that your motorcycle has about 30 square feet to paint.

If you choose a factory or regular paint job, it could cost anywhere from $10-$50 per square foot to get your motorcycle painted.

A custom paint job, however, will be much more expensive. It will cost at least $65 per square foot for a custom motorcycle paint job.

How Much Does a DIY Motorcycle Paint Job Cost?

If you have the time, space, and knowledge, you can save a lot of money by painting your motorcycle yourself! Here is the cost breakdown for materials.

Prep Materials

Any paint technician will tell you that prep work is the most important part of the painting! Your prep work lays the foundation for the paint.

For a smooth, paint-ready bike, you will need:

  • Wet sandpaper in assorted grits: The cost for sandpaper is $16.
  • A paint and rust stripper brush: This brush fits onto most standard drills. It is a helpful tool to remove previous paint or any rust. The cost for the brush is $7.
  • Dropcloths: You probably already have a few of these around your garage!
  • Paint masker, tape, and masking film: Mask off the parts of the motorcycle that you do not want to paint. These tools will cost about $15-$20.
  • Protective equipment. Don’t forget a mask, protective eyewear, gloves, and long sleeves! These will cost another $20 or so.
  • A paint sprayer. This budget-friendly paint sprayer will give the motorcycle an even coat of paint. It costs $60 for the paint sprayer.

Paint

A motorcycle does not require as much paint as a car, so you can save some money on paint. If you can find paint in pint-size cans, one pint of primer and one pint of clear coat will be enough for a motorcycle.

  • Primer seals the vehicle and sets the foundation for the paint. One quart of primer costs $24.
  • Duplicolor paint is a trusted vehicle paint brand. Choose a lacquer paint, rather than enamel. One quart of paint costs $33.
  • Clear coat protects the paint and gives it a glossy finish. Clear coat costs $60 per quart.

Optional Materials

Some of these tools are nice to have. Other tools are things that you may need if you run into complications during your project.

  • A paint sprayer and air compressor: A paint sprayer that connects to an air compressor is a great way to paint evenly and quickly. If you have a lot of paint projects coming up, this may be worth the investment at $290. Check local rental stores. Sometimes you can find a paint sprayer and air compressor for rent.
  • Disposable, hooded paint suit: Not only will this protect your clothing, but it will also protect your fresh paint from any stray hairs or dust you may shed during the painting process.
  • Sealer: You will need sealer if you strip your motorcycle down to the bare metal.
  • Sandable body filler: Body filler is used to fill in dents and dings.
  • Power sander: If you have a lot of sanding to do, a power sander will save time and energy as you prep your motorcycle for paint.

Time

Do not underestimate the value of your time! Be prepared to spend 10-20 hours (or more!) prepping, painting, and reassembling your motorcycle.

Total Cost for a DIY Paint Job

The grand total for all the basic tools needed to paint your motorcycle is $235. You will most likely have leftover paint, as well. If you add any of the optional materials, this total will change.

Cost per Square Foot for a DIY Paint Job

Again, if we estimate the paintable square footage of a motorcycle at 30 square feet, the cost to paint your motorcycle yourself is about $8 per square foot.

When Should You Hire a Professional?

Insurance Claim

The insurance company will most likely pay to have your motorcycle painted following an accident. If your insurance is footing the bill for a paint job, hire it out!

Custom or High-End Motorcycle

If you are the proud owner of a high-end motorcycle, it may be best to hire a specialty paint shop to give it the look you desire. Also, if you want custom details, like airbrush art, metallic paint, or two-tone paint, you may want to hire someone.

Lack of Time or Experience

Painting a motorcycle will take time and energy. It is a learning experience. If you are short on time, it may be worth it to hire a professional.

Even if you do not have any experience with vehicle paint, it can be learned! Expect the learning process to take more time, though. Evaluate your schedule and your budget before making a decision.

Final Thoughts

Your motorcycle is an investment! For many motorcycle owners, their bike represents who they are. A new paint job can give your motorcycle new life and turn heads! Whether you paint your bike yourself or hire someone to get the job done, make sure it is done right.

About Elissa Huebert

Elissa has been a homeowner for 18 years. During that time, she has painted every surface of her home at least twice (and some of her friends' homes, too!). She enjoys writing, learning, traveling, and trying new things.

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