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.
- 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.
- 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 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 I found works better than painters tape, it holds on easier.
-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.
-You will want to use a medium grit steel wool with the stripping.
- You will need multiple of these for painting on paint stripper.
-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 main steps for a custom paintjob include:
a.)Choosing the racquet and desired paintjob
b.)Stripping, sanding, and cleaning the frame
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
a.)Mask off accordingly
b.)Paint with light thin coats sanding between coats
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
: 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.
: 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.
: 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.