What Kinds of Paint are Gasoline Proof

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Okay, so DIY paint jobs can be disastrous if not done correctly.  I plan to ultimately repaint “Cal” to his original Sparkling Blue paint color. 

The question I keep asking myself and probably is also on your mind is what kinds of paint are gasoline proof?  I have already bought my air compressor and am currently in the process of picking up a paint gun, respirator, etc.

Before (A Picture From When I Picked Up Cal Almost 3 Years Ago):

Picture of Second Shovelhead

Hopefully After:

Sparkling Blue Paint

A lot goes into doing a DIY paint job right.  If you ask any professional painter the number one most important thing to getting the job done right, they will almost always say preparation, preparation, preparation.  We will talk about painting plenty more on this website as I go through the process of painting Cal, but today I want to talk about the selection of paint itself.

A giant mistake I think people make is the selection of paint, because they don’t consider the many elements that your new paint job will have to withstand – wind, dirt, UV rays, and worst-of-all gasoline. 

That is right, you are going to spill gasoline on that tank while refilling at some point.  It is inevitable, and gasoline can do a number on a cheap paint job.  So what kinds of paint are gasoline proof?

There are painters out there that probably have some opinions on this issue (I welcome comments below), but I will tell you what I know about paints and their various levels of gasoline resistance.  Hopefully, this will help you avoid days and weeks of work only to end up with a paint job that bubbles or cracks as soon as you spill some gasoline on it.

Rattle can paint is NOT gasoline proof.  Some of these aerosol cans are gasoline resistant – for example, engine enamel, but most will not hold up against gasoline.  Notice the distinction – gasoline proof versus gasoline resistant.  The only kinds of paint that I know of that are gasoline proof are epoxys and two-part urethanes/lacquers.

To over-simplify things, there are two kinds of paint out there: 

1) Paint that dries due to contact with the air – the stuff in rattle cans and the regular cans you can buy at various paint stores. 

2) Paint that dries due to mixing with a hardener or catalyst.  You mix the paint and the catalyst/hardener together, then paint, and the catalyst/hardener is actually what causes the paint to dry. 

Epoxy paint is the stuff that people use to paint their garage floors, so probably overkill for a motorcycle but you get the point – if you want to paint your bike and you want it to last, you need to use a two-part or two-stage paint.  These paints are more expensive than a rattle can job, but you get what you pay for (something that will look better and last longer).

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