How to spray paint a football helmet: easy DIY project

Many athletes will agree: when we do sports, we want our gear to be in top condition: whole, pristine, and looking cool. Playing football means taking risks and exposing yourself to potential hits that can lead to injuries. A football helmet is our accident insurance. But not only that. The helmet is our ‘face’ during the game, and we want that face to be handsome.

Spray painting the football helmet makes your ‘face’ look ‘younger’, and if you want to turn it into a cool decorative item, your options are countless.

It isn’t an overly complex task to paint a football helmet. Although a minor challenge is always a good thing. Whatever your motive, we’ll give you a road map for spray painting your old team helmet or a brand new one that you really despise the color of.

how to spray paint a football helmet

Get ready

As with any DIY project, this one too requires some preparation. First, you’ll secure essential tools.

All you need to paint a football helmet:

  1. Paint (spray cans)
  2. Clearcoat
  3. Sanding block or paper
  4. Duct tape
  5. Scraping device
  6. Cloth
  7. Something to cover the area where the football helmet is going to be painted (film, paper, etc.)
  8. Eye and body protection (goggles or a mask, an outfit that can be disposed of after painting, gloves)

After acquiring all the essentials (it’s not a lot, as you see, so this DIY is budget-friendly), let’s arrange the place to paint a football helmet most efficiently.

Step #1. Make sure you save the adjacent area from the paint spray. Put some film or paper where your football helmet will reside. Be generous and leave yourself enough room to apply the paint.

Keep in mind that you’ll need to spray in different directions, so it is wise to protect the vertical surfaces like walls, as well.

Step #2. Position the football helmet strategically: you should be able to monitor the process and secure the even coat.

Your best options are hanging a helmet (for example, on a candlestick holder, a coat stand, or a wire hanger) or putting it on some kind of stand. You need the whole helmet to be evenly exposed to painting.

Now you are ready. Put on your face mask (or goggles) and let’s get started.

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Action plan

#1. Remove the extras. Anything attached to your football helmet, like stickers or decals, has to go. Remove everything that will hinder the process with a scraping tool. Be thorough.

#2. Clean up. Give your helmet a meticulous cleaning. Soapy water is an appropriate solution for that: it’s not aggressive but effective at the same time. Use a soft tack cloth to dry your helmet properly.

#3. Sand it. This step should be done with extra caution. That’s the reason you need to use as gentle a sanding tool as possible. Our goal here is to eliminate any flaws and ensure a perfect coat for your football helmet.

#4. Cover it up. Use masking tape or any other duct tape to protect the inside of the helmet. A masking tape should be a quality one with proper adhesion. We always use masking tape in contrasting colors so we can monitor the painting process better.

Also, make sure that the masking tape you’re using doesn’t leave any stickiness after removal.

Losing your hair during the game is not the objective of this project.

#5. Spray it. The technique is not complex. Give your football helmet an even light coat, keeping the distance between the can and the helmet at about 10 inches. Be thorough and cover all parts of the helmet.

After the first coat is done, we wait. The drying time varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, but it won’t take more than an hour. Then you are ready for the second coat.

Waiting overnight and letting a football helmet dry completely after you paint it for the second time is the MO we recommend. Next morning, give your helmet a full inspection and ensure that the entire surface is evenly covered.

If you notice any flaws in your work, you get the third shot at painting your helmet.

A critical aspect of the drying process for your helmet is proper ventilation. It speeds up the process and saves you the headache.

#6. Final touch. To perfect your work, give your helmet a special treatment with a custom car paint finish.

The deep shine of your gear will blind the players from the rivalry team (just kidding). This clear coat will also provide extra protection for your new paint job. And a professional finish.

Lifehack: use a drill buffer to make it faster.

#8. Return the helmet to its initial state. Now it’s time to put everything back in place. Remove the tape with all the excess paint stuck to it. A helmet shell and the pads go back where they belong. And your football helmet is ready for action.

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Paint options

What paint is suitable to paint a football helmet? Let’s look at the most convenient options. There are 3 of them. All of them are approved for painting plastic.

However, you should be aware that football helmets can be made of slightly different materials, but the general rule applies.

You can use polyurethane, acrylic, or vinyl paint for painting a helmet. Vinyl paint is normally applied to football helmets having a vinyl coating. If you are planning to paint the helmet with another kind of paint, it’s better to do some research first. Not every paint is suitable for a helmet. Some can damage the surface which creates a safety breach.

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Final thoughts

You can have the helmet painted by a professional, but if you prefer to get your hands dirty from time to time and take a DIY project, painting a helmet with a spray paint can be one of them.

It’s not particularly challenging, but it gives you a sense of accomplishment and makes your helmet look new and fresh no matter if you paint for decorative purposes or just a refreshment. Read our guide, purchase or find the tools, and start painting.

Frequently asked questions

Can I spray paint my football helmet?

Yes, you can paint your helmet with a can of spray. Just make sure that you use an appropriate paint as not all the paints will work with the helmets (go for acrylic or polyurethane options) and that you prepare the helmet for the spraying by cleaning and sanding it first.

And don’t forget to dry the helmet between the first and second layer of paint. After the second coat, it’s recommended to wait for 12 hours before giving your helmet a finishing touch if it’s needed.

What kind of paint do you use on football helmets?

To be on the safe side, we recommend consulting an expert as not all the paints are suitable for a football helmet. But acrylic enamel paint is a safe choice to paint a football helmet, as it works well with plastic.

What kind of spray paint do you use on a helmet?

As helmets can be made of various materials, paint options vary as well. But polyurethane and acrylic options are viable in most cases.

Is it OK to spray paint a helmet?

You can spray paint a helmet yourself, it’s not a complex task. You just need to find the essential tools and prepare the helmet by removing all the padding and applying duct tape inside the helmet to protect it from any splatter. Don’t forget that to achieve a proper result, you’ll have to apply at least 2 coatings of paint and let the paint dry between the applications.

If you need to read about how to paint helmets, please read our article.

Robert Miles

I have an immense love for fast motorcycling and a deep passion for motorcycles. With a decade-long involvement in motorsport, I have experienced thrilling adventures and have had the opportunity to explore various aspects of this exciting world.

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