Custom paint shopping tips - You get what you pay for!
This is copied from my ebay TOP 5000 guide (TAZattitude01 ebay username)
Tips on choosing a custom paint shop or buying a custom paint set for your motorcycle
When choosing a custom paint job or shop to do your paint job for your motorcycle, this could be a very rewarding internet experience, or it could turn be your worst nightmare.
I have put together some tips and ideas to put into your head when looking for either a paint shop or paint job.
What to look for if you plan on buying a custom painted set.
Look very closely at the pics?
Be sure and ask for close up photos of the work if they do not show close-up shots. Close-ups will give you a chance to see the detail of the work.
Be sure and look at reflections in the paintwork
In the close up photos you want to be able to see perfect reflections. this goes for all the graphic work and also the base paintwork. If you see distortion where outlines or edges are in the graphics, this tells you that the paint job is not "flat" and that you will probably be able to feel the paint lines. Also if the reflection is distorted on the base, this could be from orange peel in the paint. If the photos aren't taken close enough to even see this, be wary!
Anyone can make a bad paint job look good in pics!!!! If it looks bad in pictures, it's usually even worse in person.
Good close-up photos will also tell you how straight the parts are. Look at the reflections!!!! Be sure and see the pics below for 'reflection shots'. I downsized these just to give you an idea, but even in these pics, you can see a perfect reflection.
You get what you pay for...
You get what you pay for...
holds true in custom motorcycle painting. If you include all the materials (paints, reducers, sandpaper, cleaning thinners) averaging at about $250+ for a basic paint job, don't think that you will get a 'show quality' job for $500-$600. There is a lot of labor and steps into doing the job RIGHT! If the price is low, then obviously some of the steps were not taken in order to make the job right. Or, the materials chosen for the job were not the best available. The average 1/2 pint of PPG runs about $80 (yes, 1/2 pint, not a full pint)
If you want a 'cheap' job, pay for a cheap job, then you're only getting a cheap job. Once you have it painted and find out it's not to your satisfaction, then it's too late!
I've heard this over and over way too many times.
Pic backgrounds-Don't let those fancy-shmancy photo shoot backgrounds fool you!
Be sure if you are looking at pics with fancy backgrounds with special effects lighting, to try to visualize the set/paint job in 'real world' conditions. After all, your bike will really spend most of it's time in the outdoors (and in your garage). So be sure and take WHERE the pictures were taken in consideration.
Also observe the backgrounds of the pictures taken out doors. Obviously if they take the pictures in their front yard or driveway, you are probably getting a 'side-jobber' special that was sprayed in their garage...or even outdoors!
Do they mention that they have a 'business' website?
You never know who you will come across when dealing over the internet. Be sure and check feedback along with possibly a 'company name' mentioned in the auction
If you see photos listed of previous jobs look like the paint jobs and paint schemes are from the '90's they probably are. Be sure and see some good recent work. The pics they show you should be in digital format (not scanned) and be recent paint jobs.
How long have they REALLY been on the internet?
You can easily check it out using the "Wayback Machine". Of course, this will only work if they haven't changed names. I know of one competitor that's changed names 3 times since 2004. Another competitor is about to change their name (the original business and website is for sale).
that just because a local shop says they can match someone elses colors and job, they can. I have numerous people call me telling me their stories of how they went ahead and had a local job painted by a local shop, only to find out that the picture that they gave them wasn't even close to what it was supposed to be. It's best just to go with the painter that did the actual job you are interested in
If aftermarket sheetmetal, has the tank been pressure checked and sealed?
Be sure this is done, this ensures you will not have any leaks and sealing them will help prevent rust.
What to look for if you are have a set custom painted for you whether by a painter or paint shop
Is the painter a hobbyist, do it as a side job, or a professional?
Don't take a chance and deal with someone that doesn't paint for a living. Types of materials are changing frequently and a well informed painter knows this and can keep up with the best of refinishing technology. I read where one painter was boasting about that he had no overhead since he painted out of his garage. Yea, no overhead, don't pay taxes, don't have to buy booth filters, pollute the environment...that's definitely, one way to keep costs down. In my town, it's illegal to run a commercial business out of your garage. Plus, do you really think you are going to get the best quality while painting out of a garage? !
Also, wetsanding and buffing is an extremely important part of a good quality job.
This is something that just can't be taught overnight. Most likely if they don't do too many paint jobs, then the quality of the buffing is not good. It takes a ton of hours to be a top quality buffer/detailer.
Many steps are involved with doing the job CORRECTLY.
Other Items for sale
If buying on ebay, be sure and check out the other sellers items for sell along with other items sold. You can do an 'advanced search' to find out their activity. Also check out feedback for other items sold. This is another way to check to see if a person is doing this on the 'side'
New EPA regulations
Starting next year the EPA will be doing a crackdown on local auto body shop suppliers that are selling to the side jobbers. They will only be allowed to sell to certified bodyshops.
What good is 1, 2 year warranty if they aren't even going to be around? And what's that "lifetime" warranty all about?
So keep that in mind, next time you want to purchase a 'cheap' paint job by someone doing it on the side.
Is the custom paint shop willing to email you photos at the end of the job so you can at least take a look at what you are paying for just to make sure this is what you ordered?
What paints do they use
You're entitled to ask. The best and most popular brands custom painters use is PPG, Dupont, and House of Kolors. Cheap materials will produce a cheap (in both quality and price) job.
If you are having airbrush work done, be sure and look for the best in quality. Are the lines and edges crisp? Is the image detailed? Does it have good shading?
Of course, the better the airbrush quality, the more expensive it is. You get what you pay for holds true in airbrush quality.
Also, be sure when you are dealing with a airbrush artist, make sure they can even 'paint'. Just because they do good airbrush work, doesn't mean they can even paint (or buff!)
Interested in a 'flame' job?
Have you seen pics of their flames? Be sure and ask for some recent jobs that were done. Each painter has their own style of flames. Make sure it is their style you like.
If the custom painter or shop does so happen to have a website, be sure and check the 'copyright' dates listed in at the lower portion of their website pages. If the date is outdated, then most likely their content and service is to. I've come across nice looking custom painting websites only to see that the copyright dates would read xxxx-2008 (i.e. 1,2, 3 or even more years out of date). This is an excellent tip I would suggest you use on ANY type of website you come across and consider doing a purchase. I personally use this tip all the time no matter what I am purchasing.
As the 'internet' progresses, some sites, pages, business, become stagnate and and get left on the internet. These pages may look like legit pages and business, when in reality, they no longer exist as business.
Just like with any service, never pay in full up front before the job is started. Up to 1/2 down is reasonable.
How long with the job take?
Ask up front for an estimated time. Generally, the winter months are the busy season for custom motorcycle paint jobs. If you hear of less than a 3 week completion time during these months, you have to wonder WHY they are not busy. If the completion time is 6-10 weeks, then of course, there must be a good reason why they are busy (good service, good reputation...). Kind of goes hand in hand here.
In the slower months, 2-5 weeks is the norm for a good reputable shop.
Looking for someone to do a 'flame' job on the internet or a local shop?
Taking a pic off an auction (or website) and take it to a local shop to see if they can do it is very risky. Most likely they're going to say they match the colors or paint scheme can just to get you in the door. Probably a good idea just to go ahead and get the job that you like painted by the company that did it originally!
Are you dealing with a local shop?
Be sure the painter or custom paint shop deals with motorcycles ? If they mainly do autos, you will probably be put in a corner and used as 'filler' for when they have nothing to do. Do they have actual custom motorcycle paint jobs 'in-house' they can show you?
I hope any of the above tips will help you in perusing a great looking paint job for your bike!!!
Who am I that I should write about custom painting? I have been painting for 25+ years,and our shop has painted 1500+ bikes in the past 9 years. I have learned a lot of the above from previous experience, along with owning the largest custom painting site on the internet with 8000+ pages listed on Google
( Custom Flame Painting by Attitude Custom Painting ).
I figured I would pass along some tips on what to look for when choosing your custom paint job!