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User Name 12-29-2007 12:45 PM

How to create a custom paintjob (very detailed)
There have been multiple requests for a thread on how to go about doing a custom paintjob. I have done two paintjobs now and have a pretty good grasp on putting together a quality paintjob. I have done both a jet black paintjob and a more intricate white/blue babolat paintjob on a prince o3 white.

*Warning* By repainting a tennis racquet, the warranty will be voided and the tennis racquet will be permanently changed.


I was able to purchase all of these supplies at true value. The model car paints (optional) may need to be purchased at a model store.

Paint- If you have an airbrush, that would be fantastic and make the job considerably easier, but we are going to assume that we don't have an airbrush on hand. There are a few types of paint to choose from, including, but not limited to: lacquer, epoxy paint, and regular household paint. When you decide on your paint, you are going to want to stick with the same type of paint and brand if possible, this is to avoid any reactions.

Lacquer: I used lacquer on my white babolat paintjob and liked it. It dries fast, which is tricky, but if you are careful, you will be alright. It dries very hard and nice and shiny. You can buy it in small spray paint cans for model cars as well as at any hardware store in white, black, and clear. Below is a picture of a guitar painted with lacquer and then polished.

Epoxy paint: Epoxy paint is also very very hard. It is used as the paint on a refrigerator. It is heavy though, and colors are limited to black and white.

Regular paint: These paints are cheap and have many many colors. They are definitely an option. You can also purchase these in a matte finish, which will dry very quickly, and give a cool affect, similar to the K90. Matte finishes don't need a high gloss clear coat.

Personally, I would use lacquer, but is important to put it on in very thin coats, or it will fog and you will have to start over, I had to and it was not fun.

Primer- You are going to need a primer to put on the racquet after you strip down the paint. I would recommend bondo's car primer. It will fill any little nicks in the racquet and give you a nice surface to work with. It comes in gray and white I believe. If you are doing a lighter colored paintjob, then go with white, darker, go with gray.

Sandpaper-Sandpaper is very key. You will need to get sandpaper in a variety of grits. 100 grit to help strip the paint, 250-400 grit to finish the stripping, 600 grit to sand between coats, and 1000-1200 grit (wet) for the final sanding.

Masking Tape-Masking tape I found works better than painters tape, it holds on easier.

Paint stripper-Paint stripper is really needed to remove all the paint. I had to remove the paint from an o3, which was easily the most difficult stage in the entire process. Make sure to wear gloves and cover your working area.

Steel wool-You will want to use a medium grit steel wool with the stripping.

Foam paintbrush- You will need multiple of these for painting on paint stripper.

New grommets-It is possible to just use the old grommets, but I would recommend taking advantage of TW's cheap shipping on small orders.

A room-temperature ventilated area-For the paint to dry, you will need a relatively warm ventilated area.

The Process

The main steps for a custom paintjob include:

1.) Preparation
a.)Choosing the racquet and desired paintjob
b.)Stripping, sanding, and cleaning the frame
2.) Priming
a.)Choose a primer ex. gray for dark, white for light
b.)Paint the racquet with several thin coats of primer
c.)Lightly sand primer
3.) Paint
a.)Mask off accordingly
b.)Paint with light thin coats sanding between coats
4.) Finish
a.)Finish with a clear coat to seal the job
b.)Put the grommets back into the racquet
Below, is a more in-depth description of the entire process

1.)Preparation: To begin with, you will need to choose your racquet and the desired design for the paintjob. To test out your ideas for paintjobs, you can use powerpoint to create a tennis racquet and draw out your design. You can also simply use a piece of paper and markers. Once you know what you will be painting, go out and get your supplies as listed above.Before you start into the process, remove all grommets.
Now, is the most difficult part of the process, the stripping. If you dont mind the surface having small imperfections, then you don't need to take off all of the paint, you can just sand down some of the paint and go onto priming. If you want to have a perfect surface, then you will want to use stripper and take off all of the paint. This will most likely take 2-3 hours if not longer. If you choose a racquet without a lot of small oddly shaped areas (any o3) then it will take longer. Cover the handle of the racquet with masking tape. Put gloves on now. You will need to start off by using a foam paintbrush to cover the racquet with stripper. Then, leave it for 15 minutes. Don't get excited and start using the steel wool when the paint starts to peel wait and be patient. After 15 minutes, take the steel wool and begin to scrape away at the racquet. The scuffing pads on sponges also work well. This should begin to remove some of the paint. Now, repeat painting the stripper and wait. Continue to do this until almost all of the paint has been removed. Now, you can begin to sand. Sanding takes much much longer than stripping, so make sure that you have removed most of the paint before you begin to sand. Start off with 150-200 grit and get progressively finer. Now, take the racquet to the sink and gently wash it, to remove the paint remover and sanding dust. Otherwise, the primer would not be very happy. The racquet now needs a little time to dry.

2.)Priming: Now, you can begin to apply the primer. Spray it on in very thin coats, trust me be patient. Some primers will instruct you to let it dry for 45 minutes or so and apply the next thin coat. Continue to do this until you are satisfied with the coating. after your final coat, allow at least 24 hours to dry. When it is completely dried, you can sand it very lightly with about 400 grit.

3.)Painting: It is now time to paint.

Black Frame: If you are just painting a jet black frame, then just use a black paint and paint it in thin coats as instructed. You can add a final clear coat of lacquer if you would like, but I don't recommend mixing paint types.

Detailed Frame: For a more detailed design, you will want to paint the region of the detail and try to mask off the regions that you don't want painted that color. Follow the paint instructions and allow 24 hours to dry. Don't rush it and make sure to use very thin coats. It will be worth it. When that is dry, lightly sand it and mask off the areas that you want the design to be in. Now paint the next color and mask off appropriately if you want another design color. Try to paint the main color last. Below is directions for making letters.

Making letters or logos: To do this, you will need to buy sheets of labels that you can print on. They can just be labels like "Hi, my name is..." labels. Then, find your logo or letters and print them onto the sheet. Allow a moment for the printer ink to dry. Then, use a very sharp pair of scissors and very carefully cut out the letters or logo. Once this is done, peel off the backing of the stickers and place the on the racquet where you would like them. Place them on the detail color and paint the main color over them. Then, when the paint is dry enough to handle, carefully peel them off. Do this carefully, so that you don't peel up unwanted paint. And viola... you have your letters of logo.

Once you have your final coats on the racquet, sand it with the finest grit sandpaper you can find. Then, spray paint a clear coat on the racquet. You will also want do this is several thin coats. Allow the final product at least 48 hours to dry to handle. Don't string it up yet though. You will probably want to let it dry about a week. Then, put in the new grommets and you are all set.

And there you go, you have your brand new custom paintjob. Below is a list of important things to know as you are going about this project.

-This process can take up to 4 weeks or more to complete. Take your time, you will appreciate it in the end.

-Ask someone at a paint store or your local hardware store for specific directions on painting with lacquer if that is your chosen paint. It is rather difficult to use due to it drying so quickly and fogging in coats that are too thick. Look carefully at the directions on the can.

-Be careful when pulling up the maskings, otherwise, your whole design can be ruined.

-If you want to change just one color on your racquet like chris_in_japan's blue K-factor, I think that you would want to mask off the areas you want to keep, lightly sand the other areas, and paint them that color. I assume this is how you would go about changing the color of your microgel, but I am not as familiar in this type of painting, so you may want to ask chris_in_japan about how he does it.

-Touch the racquet as little as possible throughout the process. When you paint a new coat on the racquet, it reactivates the old paint and will be very easy to leave fingerprints in.

-Have fun with it and be sure to show it off on the court.

Well, there you go. I hope this answers some questions on how to go about painting a custom paintjob. I hope you enjoy this and maybe this could be stickied, so that everyone is able to find it.

Aeropro master 12-29-2007 01:00 PM

thanks username! this will help a lot

A.J. Sim 12-29-2007 01:50 PM

thanks for the advice; that's a cool looking white paint job.

Did you play with your painted rackets and notice any significant weight or balance differences, or did you just hang them up as cool designer pieces at your house?

User Name 12-29-2007 01:54 PM

of coarse i play with it, it plays basically identical. I can't notice a difference. I measured it on a very accurate jewelers scale and it is about 5 grams off to the heavy side and thats probably cause it has a leather grip with an overgrip. Also, the lacquer is pretty durable

Sixpointone 12-29-2007 01:59 PM

Excellent post and excellent Custom Painted Racquet. Thank You for sharing!

User Name 12-29-2007 02:02 PM

your very welcome, I tried to put in as much detail as possible, i know when i was putting together my first paintjob, it was a real challenge to find information on how to do it. Does anyone know how to get a thread stickified?

35201 12-29-2007 02:04 PM


Originally Posted by User Name (Post 1964361)
your very welcome, I tried to put in as much detail as possible, i know when i was putting together my first paintjob, it was a real challenge to find information on how to do it. Does anyone know how to get a thread stickified?

I think a either a mod or an admin has to do it. Maybe PM one?

Thanks for the thread, though! I know that I'd want to do a paintjob in the future, so this is very helpful.

Sixpointone 12-29-2007 02:05 PM


Originally Posted by User Name (Post 1964361)
your very welcome, I tried to put in as much detail as possible, i know when i was putting together my first paintjob, it was a real challenge to find information on how to do it. Does anyone know how to get a thread stickified?

Hi User Name,

My best guess would be to have you email a Moderator in regards to potentially havbing a Thread made into a Sticky at the Top of the Forum.

Hope that helps,

jayserinos99 12-29-2007 03:07 PM

Great thread UserName. Just curious, what are your thoughts on using an electric hand sander for these types of projects?

User Name 12-29-2007 03:13 PM

the only thing with that would be that graphite is pretty soft and you can go through it pretty easily, just going at it by hand i think is the way to go

35201 12-29-2007 03:18 PM

How long does it usually take someone to completely remove the paint if they're using sandpaper?

User Name 12-29-2007 03:20 PM

if its just sandpaper, then it can take a while and if your using like 400 grit, it could take up to 6-7 hours

adams_1 12-29-2007 03:22 PM

This looks like a great guide. Great detail. Could be handy if I ever decide to have a go.

Lotto 12-29-2007 03:44 PM

Thanks for the guide! I don't think I'm going to have a go though! I don't think the K Six One Team really needs a paintjob does it? The only thing I was going to do with it was put my name on it. I was thinking of putting it on both sides at the top wheres there's a white arch sort of bit. What would I do in this situation. Print the letters, stick them on and paint over the letters with something?? Thanks.

User Name 12-29-2007 03:49 PM

well, you would have to print out the letters, but use the outline of the letters and paint on those, the only thing is, i dont know how well it would hold on if ur just painting on the finished frame, maybe if you put down the outline, then sanded that area a little, then painted, but you would have to make sure to mask off the rest of your racquet. think about whether it is worth it, cause im not sure how it would work out

VikingSamurai 12-29-2007 04:15 PM

Just find a clear sticker film and print your name out on a computer.. Once you have printed it out, let it dry and then hit the sheet with a clear spray (hardware store) and let dry completely.. Once that is done, then put it on the racquet. May fade after a while.. But if you know how to make home made decals, that may even be a better option also.. As long as you use a setting solution before applying, and the sealing solution after, then you shouldn't have any trouble with it comming off too easily..

diredesire 12-29-2007 04:32 PM

I'd also suggest some gloves so you don't kill your liver working with the nasty paint stripper.

I'll sticky this, but I think I may have to merge it with the Racquet FAQ at a later date with your permission, UN.

Let me know if that's OK. You should be able to edit it as normal, and maybe we can keep this thread separate, for discussion?

Aeropro master 12-29-2007 05:19 PM

Username, how long did it take you to make your custom racket?

Aeropro master 12-29-2007 08:05 PM

sorry double post!

federer envies me 12-29-2007 08:07 PM

great job!!! you have inspired me to customize my own raquet

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