How to create a custom paintjob (very detailed)

User Name

Semi-Pro
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.

Supplies

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.)[size=+1]Preparation[/size]: 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.)[size=+1]Priming[/size]: 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.)[size=+1]Painting[/size]: 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.

 
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A.J. Sim

Rookie
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

Semi-Pro
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
 

User Name

Semi-Pro
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

Rookie
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

Professional
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,
John
 

jayserinos99

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

User Name

Semi-Pro
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

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

User Name

Semi-Pro
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

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

Professional
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

Semi-Pro
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
 
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

Adjunct Moderator
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?
 

User Name

Semi-Pro
Chris_in_japan-It would be great if you could make a section that i could add on adding the lettering and details, including masking off areas and adding lettering and logos. You know more about that than anyone on TT. If you could just go a little in depth on that sort of stuff, that would be great.

diredesire- Whatever you think most appropriate. How does merging it with racquet FAQ work? I just want something like this to be easy to find, since it is becoming a more popular topic of interest. Also, when something is stickied, it can still be discussed right? Thanks for the help and getting it stickied.

Aeropro master- It took me about a month because i was working little by little and waiting for different supplies to be shipped... grommets, strings, etc. Total work including dry time would most likely come out to two weeks, but i could have been more careful.

Warning to everyone, this is a big project and does take a lot of time.
I would recommend doing it on an old back up frame to get an idea of it. Then go after your frame if your confident.

once again, enjoy it.
 

diredesire

Adjunct Moderator
diredesire- Whatever you think most appropriate. How does merging it with racquet FAQ work? I just want something like this to be easy to find, since it is becoming a more popular topic of interest. Also, when something is stickied, it can still be discussed right? Thanks for the help and getting it stickied.
I'll probably just (try) to get the first/original post in the sticky, and link to this thread, that way it can still be discussed.
 

DY3K1D

Rookie
did u take off the head guard on the racquet while taking everytihng off? please let me know if u dont know what i mean
 

anbu4ever11

Semi-Pro
i get how its done except when it comes to grommets

i understand all that but i have a question.im goin to try and test paint on a crappy racket that i own doing it the way u showed except not stripping off the rackets original paint but putting on a base and then whatever colors i want to use.but my question is while you spray do u try not to spray onto the grommet holes?or does that not matter?cause lets say i did and a layer went on it can i just poke the holes were there suppose to be?im confused on that i guess.thanks
 

User Name

Semi-Pro
yeah, the grommet holes dont get covered by paint, you should be fine in terms of that, but do be aware that you take the grommets out when you paint
 

rosenstar

Professional
can u plz show us a video on how to do it thanks, plus is it harder to paint the wilson W sign on, thanks alot
I keep meaning to pj one of my frames when I get a chance, and I decided that for stuff like this, I would:

1. Print a copy of the Symbol or lettering on adhesive paper and cut it out.

2. put the first layer of paint on (the color that you want the symbol/lettering to be). Put the appropriate number of coats on and sand as necessary.

3. place the newly made "sticker" on the frame

4. Do the next layer of paint. Again do as many coats as necessary and sand as needed.

5. Peel the "sticker" off, and you will be left with the desired color

6. put the clear coat on the frame.

I haven't done this personally yet, so I'm not 100% sure that it'll work, but I don't see a reason why it wouldn't.
 
S

SCARFULZ

Guest
I keep meaning to pj one of my frames when I get a chance, and I decided that for stuff like this, I would:

1. Print a copy of the Symbol or lettering on adhesive paper and cut it out.

2. put the first layer of paint on (the color that you want the symbol/lettering to be). Put the appropriate number of coats on and sand as necessary.

3. place the newly made "sticker" on the frame

4. Do the next layer of paint. Again do as many coats as necessary and sand as needed.

5. Peel the "sticker" off, and you will be left with the desired color

6. put the clear coat on the frame.

I haven't done this personally yet, so I'm not 100% sure that it'll work, but I don't see a reason why it wouldn't.
Lets say I want my racquet to be all black but with silver writing and designs on it... i will prime the racquet... then paint the whole thing with a few light coats of silver and sand in between. then place my stickers on and go over the entire frame again with black... is this correct??
 

rosenstar

Professional
Lets say I want my racquet to be all black but with silver writing and designs on it... i will prime the racquet... then paint the whole thing with a few light coats of silver and sand in between. then place my stickers on and go over the entire frame again with black... is this correct??
that's what I suggest. After the black has dried you will peel off the stickers and the silver will still be there. Then you'd put a clear coat on top seal it and finish the paint job. I think that, assuming your using spray paint, this is the easiest way to paint designs, logos, stencils, and characters on your racquet.

It's essencially the same thing as putting masking tape over molding when your painting a wall. you can get paint on the tape, but when you peel it off the molding's exactly the same.
 

djnick66

New User
Paint Details

I own a hobby shop and have had 30+ years experience using both model paints and store-bought enamel and laquer paints.

Many model paints are enamels, but a majority of brands now are going to acrylics. All of your model spray paints are enamels or solvent based. The acrylics can be durable though. They aren't like poster paints that soften up when wet. Once they are dry they are permanant and quite hard to remove. They can me harder to strip or remove than enamels.

The potential problem with model enamel paints is that they are somewhat soft compared to more industrial paint jobs. Its hard to polish and buff enamels like you can lacquers or harder paints. You just wear through them if you aren't careful. Some colors like metallics can be very soft and don't dry well... they will be tacky for months and will leave finger prints or rub off on your fingers.

Clear coats work very well. Clear coats can change the color of metallics. Silver will turn grey for example. Some of the better clear coats are lacquers but those will blister and craze enamel and acrylic paints. Compatability is a big problem if you aren't careful.

You might potentially have problems with cracking due to flex in the racquet. The paints aren't desinged to flex. Letting the base coat dry a long time (few weeks) before applying any kind of clear coat will help. THen let the clear coat dry.


For the average person wanting to repaint a racquet I would recommend the Tamiya brand of spray paints and primers. Their spray paints are plastic-safe lacquers. They go on VERY smoothly, without runs, drips, splattering, etc. I use an airbrush a lot, but when I want simple, one-color finishes, I always use the Tamiya sprays. Plus they dry very quickly. The metallic colors are also excellent. They offer the usual gold, silver, aluminum shades, but also gunmetal, dark gunmetal, metallic blue, metallic red, metallic green, etc., and also clear colors to apply over metallics for a candy finish.

I would prime the racquet with Tamiya's super fine white spray primer. Especially if you want to paint it in a light or bright color. Any nicks or scratches can be filled with their liquid white brush on primer and lightly sanded out. Then apply the colors of your choice iwth the sprays. Tamiya's own brand of tape is excellent for masking. Its flexible and if you apply it right, you won't get paint creep. You can also decant the spray cans and airbrush the lacquers. They even brush paint well for little touch ups.

Paint rules of thumb... acrylics go over any finish. You can apply enamels over acrylics or lacquers. Lacquers will melt acrylic or enamel paints

With an airbrush you can paint some lacquers over other paints becuase they go on very thin and dry quickly.

For a clear coat, on Tamiya paints I recommend their own clear gloss Spray. Several thin coats followed by a heavy wet coat give a beautiful high gloss.

Future Floor Wax (Johnsons Klear outside the USA) is also an excellent high gloss clear. Check on a site like hyperscale's aircraft modelling board for Future tips. You can airbrush it, dip things, etc.
 

TsongaBonga

Rookie
Wow thanx dude, I'm new so its so cool to see all this! Umm i've already done a racket, lol, it was an old beat up PS 85 I found for 20 bucks in a garage sale! Its now a K factor Equivalent to a K90. Except instead of red at 9 and 3 o'clock its lime green!
 

rosewall4ever

Semi-Pro
I've done this b4 aswell but with single colour. Laquer is very much advised if you don't want paint to chip....ALSO use SPRAY PAINT ONLY!!Try a hand job and your asking for trouble...except if your a expert modeller.


Also if you want to refurb new racquets please remove grommets b4 hand.

If you want to fix paint chips i would advise 'Tammiya putty' (modelling cement based available in most modelling shops) and sand prior primming.
 

CGMemphis

Rookie
When I do pj's one of things that is very, very helpful is pinstriping tape. It comes in different thicknesses to get some of thinner lines and such.

I am about to do a pj for a customer and will do a photo-tutorial to add to this already excellent thread.
 

Diabolu

New User
When I do pj's one of things that is very, very helpful is pinstriping tape. It comes in different thicknesses to get some of thinner lines and such.

I am about to do a pj for a customer and will do a photo-tutorial to add to this already excellent thread.
Can't wait mate. I'll be Keeping and eye on this thread as I want to do my RDS-1's in a good metallic blue.
 
Mr. Use Name, You...are...the...beeessstttt!!!!!!!!!!! And A Big Cheer To Those Who Colaborated In This Post! Finally I Can Do It The Correct Way!!
 

Gorecki

G.O.A.T.
i have one doubt. will the paint stripper affect the carbon fibers?
i have been doing it very gently and in very small areas to avoid that eventualy. it is taking me for ages...
 

CGMemphis

Rookie
No pics now, apparently the customer, in very bad form, backed out of the deal without saying a word.

Great thread none the less, my own pj's will be posted sometime in May, after my wedding.
 

Loco4Tennis

Hall of Fame
ive painted 2 racquets so far,
the last one i am still letting it dry (need pattiense, and lots of it), even on my secod racquet i still learned a couple of things i could ahve done better,
so, if your thinking about doing this to your racquets, i would practise on some cheap ones first, like i mentioned, 1 practise racquet does not seem to be enough to get it right, also it's a lot of work, but well worth it when you finish
 

Loco4Tennis

Hall of Fame
Chris_in_japan-It would be great if you could make a section that i could add on adding the lettering and details, including masking off areas and adding lettering and logos. You know more about that than anyone on TT. If you could just go a little in depth on that sort of stuff, that would be great.

diredesire- Whatever you think most appropriate. How does merging it with racquet FAQ work? I just want something like this to be easy to find, since it is becoming a more popular topic of interest. Also, when something is stickied, it can still be discussed right? Thanks for the help and getting it stickied.

Aeropro master- It took me about a month because i was working little by little and waiting for different supplies to be shipped... grommets, strings, etc. Total work including dry time would most likely come out to two weeks, but i could have been more careful.

Warning to everyone, this is a big project and does take a lot of time.
I would recommend doing it on an old back up frame to get an idea of it. Then go after your frame if your confident.

once again, enjoy it.
good post and good advise, i also mentioned trying on a practise frame first

one thing about the lettering i found out on my lattest frame its that you can buy stickers at the store with different size letters and all,
one of the parts i messed up on and will not do again is paint arround the letter like a stencil, i would intead suggest painting the sticker letters the color you want and then sticking them on the racquet for good, otherwise when not stuck on right it will bleed under the letter and it looks bad when you pull them off
also the sticker on the letters does not come off easy, so it can leave residue on the racquet as well, or pulls the paint underneath off

on my next racquet i plan to stick the painted letters at almost the end,
thats about when i apply the 2 layers of clear cote to seal in the paint job
 
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Loco4Tennis

Hall of Fame
Does the paint come off or scratches whenever being clamped by a stringer?
yes,,, i hate it, what i have done to minimize this is use masking tape on the contact point, so basically i will tape up the machine before i clamp it down on the stringing maunting points, i also got in the havit of using a cardboard where the string will rub the frame "Y" section when pulling, this has left marks on the racquet for me as well
 

User Name

Semi-Pro
yeah ive used cardboard and towel where the string rubs. i waited a few weeks before stringing and that allowed the paint to cure. Loco could we see some pic of the seconds one? Thanks.
 
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