How to polish gloss paint and remove scratches

How to polish gloss paint and remove scratches


Ever wondered how to get that sheen back on your once-sparkly gloss-painted bike? Perhaps a little heel rub or bike lean gone wrong has left a scratch in the surface of your paint?  

In many cases, all it takes is a few basic supplies, a little elbow grease, and a bucket of patience. And to show you how, we enlisted Steve Gardner of Velocraft in Melbourne. Formerly known as Bikes by Steve, VeloCraft has quickly become one of the most sought-after bicycle paint shops in Australia. If you’ve ever seen the paint on a Prova or Bastion you’ll understand why. 

A quick disclaimer: This is just a quick guide to the process and includes tips used to add a mirror-like shine to gloss painted frames. The same technique and process applies to remove superficial scratches and rub marks. It’s important to note that the instructions in this article do not apply to satin and matte finishes. 

What you’ll need 

Air or electric-powered tools make quick work of polishing, but it can all be achieved by hand, too. In either case, you’ll want a well-lit area that will show off imperfections. 

If polishing by hand: 

  • 2,000- and 3,000-grit sandpaper
  • Water 
  • Microfibre cloths 
  • Abrasive compound
  • Machine polish

If polishing by power:

  • 2,000-grit sandpaper
  • 3,000-grit sandpaper or 3,000-grit sandpaper disc and air-powered paint buffer 
  • Water
  • Paint buffer machine
  • Paint cutting pad (VeloCraft uses generic pads from eBay, sold in a bundle pack)
  • Paint polishing pad (as above)
  • Abrasive compound
  • Machine polish

Polishing a frame in three steps 

Polishing a freshly painted gloss frame is often done in three stages, with each stage using a progressively finer and smoother abrasive material. 

Those with a previously painted frame can likely skip the first step. Likewise, if your paint is in good condition but the finish has gone dull then you may be able to skip the second step, too. 

Step one: Removing the dust and peel 

Most freshly painted frames will have a small amount of dust or imperfections in the surface. This first step is to use a light abrasive material to remove these imperfections. 

Before starting, Gardner will mask off the ending and raised edges of the paint commonly seen around the head tube, cable ports, bottom bracket, dropouts and similar. Doing so protects these delicate areas where it’s possible to accidentally wear through the paint. 

Then Gardner uses 2,000-grit sandpaper with water to gently remove any trapped dust or other imperfections. This is then followed by a finer 3,000-grit wet sandpaper to remove the light scratches caused by the 2,000. Both of these are specialty grits – you won’t find them at a hardware store. Simply rub the area gently in a circular motion. Patience is key with all steps.

Once that step is done, wipe the frame with a clean microfibre cloth. 



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