How To Paint A Football Helmet


Last updated: July 6, 2023

Discover Steps for Achieving a Professional and Durable Paint Job on Your Football Helmet.

Football players and helmet collectors know that the helmet shell needs an upgrade after frequent wear and games.

Football helmets lose aesthetics with prolonged exposure to sunlight, rain, dirt, and wind. Also, in the heat of the match, the worn helmet is prone to scuffs and scratches. The only way to restore the old team helmet to its previous glory is to give it a new coat of paint.

The NFL banned customized football helmets and face masks, but that doesn’t apply to the small leagues. Football teams require players to have similar helmets for uniformity. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t give yours a fresh coat of paint.

In this post, I will inform you how to paint a football helmet and face mask like a pro, giving it an appealing appearance and boosting your confidence on the pitch.

Can I Spray Paint a Football Helmet

You can use several methods to paint a football helmet, but spray painting is the most straightforward. That said, you must confirm that the spray paint is suitable for helmet shells. Not all types of spray paints adhere properly to the plastic of the football helmet.

What Type of Paint is Ideal For A Football Helmet?

There are two options of paint ideal for painting a football helmet.

  • Acrylic paint: It is mainly water-based and easy to apply. Acrylic paint dries faster, and it is available in different color shades. However, it is less durable and tends to crack with time.  
  • Enamel paint: Enamel paint is a bit tasking to apply and takes longer to dry than acrylic paint. However, it is more durable and protects the shell against sunlight, water, and wind damage.
  • Polyurethane: The urethane finish is challenging to apply, but it is the most durable. Despite how expensive it is, polyurethane gives your helmet a long-lasting finish with resistance to sunlight and moisture damage.
  • Lacquer: Lacquer is commonly used since it’s easy to apply and dries quickly. Lacquer also gives your helmet long-term protection against water and sunlight. The downside is lacquer is difficult to repair.

The paints mentioned above have special features alongside the pros and cons. The ideal paint for your football helmet depends on your needs. For instance, if you want a fast-drying coat that is more eco-friendly, acrylic paint is the best choice. Enamel, lacquer, and polyurethane paint are more durable but take longer to dry.  

How To Spray Paint a Football Helmet                    

Spray painting a football helmet isn’t as easy as it sounds. For an amateur, it’s challenging to work the curves of the shell and achieve a uniform finish.

To attain an even coat, you’ll need to plan and practice so the paint job appears professionally done. Work on a curved surface like soccer or basketball to minimize possible errors on the helmet.  

Below is a detailed procedure on how to go about your project:


  • Spray paint booth
  • Protective gear
  • Scraper
  • Sandpaper
  • Newspapers
  • Painters tape or masking tape
  • Tack rag
  • Drop cloth

STEP 1: Prepare Your Workspace

When you start painting something, it is safer to work outside as paints emit toxic fumes. However, spray paint is lighter, and winds will blow the paint away, leading to splatters.

A spray booth will come in handy, and if you don’t have one, you can create a temporary one using a large carton. If you are painting indoors, ensure the area is well-ventilated and spread a drop cloth to protect surfaces from the paint.

STEP 2: Clean and Scrap the Helmet

Scrap off any old stickers or decals on the shell. If the existing paint coat was peeling or flaky, scrape that off as well. Then clean the helmet’s entire surface well with a cloth, soap, and warm water.

Use soapy water to ensure you get rid of any grime, dirt, or leftover residue on the shell. Let the helmet air dry before you proceed to the next step.

STEP 3: Lightly Sand the Helmet

Sand the surface with an orbital sander or sanding block. The aim is to remove any imperfections on the surface and the shiny layer on the plastic. The shiny coat of the plastic interferes with paint adhesion, and paint binds better to a sanded surface. Wipe the sand dust with a tack cloth.  

STEP 4: Cover the Inside

Stash some newspapers and cover the area with painter’s or masking tape to protect and keep the paint from the inside. Don’t tape any part of the helmet that needs to be painted.

STEP 5: Hang the Helmet Up or Secure it so it’s Stable

The most effective way to paint a football helmet is by suspending it in the air without the edges touching anything. You can use a clothing line, bend a wire hanger, and hang the helmet on a tree. Also, placing the helmet on a candlestick holder could work.

STEP 6: Apply the Primer and Let it Dry

Apply several coats of primer on the shell and let it dry. The essence of the primer is to help the paint bond better to the surface, and it magnifies any imperfections on the painted surface that need correction.

A second coat of primer ascertains that the paint job is top-notch. Let the primer dry for a few hours before applying the paint.

STEP 7: Apply the Paint and Let it Dry

If you have the helmet suspended, use cardboard to prevent overspray, and if you are working above ground level, use a spray paint booth. First, shake the spray can thoroughly and listen to the rattle to confirm the paint is well mixed. Then hold the can 8-12 inches away from the helmet.

Paint the helmet in short, controlled bursts while moving vertically or horizontally for uniformity. Keep the pressure and distance consistent to achieve an even finish. Don’t be afraid to overlap. 

Allow the first coat to dry for 15 minutes to an hour, and apply the second coat. Follow a similar procedure as you did the first coat for an even finish. Let the painted helmet dry overnight before it’s ready for use.  

STEP 8: Polish the Helmet 

Use a cloth to apply high-quality polish or wax to the helmet. You can use car polish available at any auto-body shop. After the polish dries, use it to buff the helmet to achieve a deep glossy finish. Polishing and buffing make the helmet look professionally done and makes the paint job durable.

STEP 9: Apply the Stickers or Decals

At this point, you can reattach any decals or stickers on the surface. Remove the newspapers, tape, and then turn on your renewed football helmet.

How To Paint A Football Helmet.

Best Helmet Spray Paint

Spray paints for plastic surfaces like helmets are not popular. Here are three brands I stand by when painting helmets:

Rust-oleum Spray Paint

  • DURABILITY: Rust-oleum spray paint will give your helmet long-lasting protection against water and sunlight damage. The paint is readily available in the market and binds well to plastic surfaces.
  • COLOR SCHEME: Rust-oleum offers a wide range of shines and sheens to paint on your helmet.
  • DRYING TIME: A single can of Rust-oleum spray paint covers a distance of 12 sq. ft. Each coat takes at least 20 minutes to dry. Also, the Rust-oleum comes with a comfortable spray nozzle that reduces finger fatigue while painting.   

Krylon Spray Paint

  • DURABILITY: Krylon spray paint is a popular, top-rated paint. Its coat is highly durable and provides surface resistance to water and sunlight.
  • COLOR SCHEME: Krylon is available in multiple color choices depending on your choice. The paint is easy to find at any local or hardware stores.  
  • DRYING TIME: Krylon spray paint dries to the touch in 10-15 minutes, and the helmet is ready for use in 2 hours.

ColorBond Spray Paint 

  • DURABILITY: ColorBond spray paint leaves surfaces with a smooth and durable finish. The coat of paint is resistant to cracking, peeling, or flaking.
  • COLOR SCHEME: ColorBond permanently seals the football helmet’s existing color and retains the surface’s supple feel.  
  • DRYING TIME: The paint dries in 10 minutes and has strong adhesion qualities. Also, it is extra pricy but worth every penny.

How to Remove Paint from a Football Helmet 

Spray painting a football helmet is fun and fulfilling, but the reverse is quite a handful. Sanding sounds like a great idea, but sanding the whole helmet will consume lots of hours and energy. There are alternative options to make the work easier, such as:

  • Goof off: You can spray the solvent on the helmet and let it sit for a while. The paint will start to change color, flake, and peel. Wipe the paint with a sponge or rag. Apply gentle pressure with a brush or steel wool for the spots that won’t come off easily.
  • Blake cleaner:  The Blake cleaner works rather slowly but effectively. Apply the cleaner over the helmet and let it sit for an hour, then wipe the paint off. You don’t need to scrub or rub. Reapply the stubborn spots and wait an extra sixty minutes.  
  • Lacquer stripper: This is a good paint remover option for lacquer paint. Apply the stripper over the helmet and wipe off the paint.
  • Paint remover: Paint removers like acetone and ammonia can strip the paint off a football helmet. Other solvent or caustic-based strippers can work too. The choice of paint remover is dependent on the type of paint you want to remove.

Sometimes you may be lucky enough, and the paint peels off easily without using paint strippers or solvents. Work carefully to avoid damaging the shell if the process necessitates chemical solvents. Scrub gently, applying light pressure to avoid making scuff and abrasion marks on the football helmet.

How Much Is It To Paint A Football Helmet

Having the paint job professionally done will cost you approximately 40-100 dollars. The existing paint’s state determines the actual charges, the helmet’s size, and the number of coats you want. You can bargain for lower prices if the football team wants their helmets repainted.

If you want to save some coins, consider painting the helmet yourself.

FAQs: How To Paint a Football Helmet

Below are answers to the commonly asked question on how to paint a football helmet to make your research easier:

What Kind of Paint Do You Use On a Football Helmet?

The type of paint you choose depends on what you want. Acrylic, lacquer, polyurethane, vinyl, and enamel paints provide a protective coating for the football helmet. Your paint of choice should resist wind, water, and sunlight damage. Also, it should withstand abrasions or scuff marks sustained in the heat of the game.

Can You Paint a Football Helmet With Spray Paint?

Yes, spray painting is an effective method of painting football helmets. Spray paint is light, fast drying, and easy to apply. Some brands have special nozzles to prevent finger fatigue when spray painting. Also, spray paints are available in various colors, sheens, and shines, giving you plenty of options.

Can a Body Shop Paint a Football Helmet?

Body shops can handle painting a football helmet. They apply similar techniques as they do while painting motorcycles and automotive parts. It would be best to discuss what you want and any specific preferences for the shop to meet your requirements. Make a point of removing the facemask, padding and taping the helmet’s insides to prevent overspray.

How Much Will it Cost to Paint a Football Helmet at Home?

Buying the spray paints is the only cost you will incur when DIYing the project. It would help if you also had tools like a screwdriver to remove the bolts of the face mask and sandpaper. It is affordable to do the job yourself. However, you’ll need to practice to achieve a perfect paint job.

Does Painting a Football Helmet Void Its Warranty?

Yes, it does. The paint contains chemical compounds that may lower the durability of the football helmet. The chemical and solvent compounds wear out the protective coat or mess with the Styrofoam inside. Manufacturers will void your warranty when you paint your helmet, and they are no longer liable if the helmet damages or gets you a head injury.  

Can You Airbrush a Football Helmet?

Yes, airbrushing is an effective way of repainting, repairing, and fixing alterations on the football helmet. An airbrush is a hand-held gadget that sprays paint with controlled pressures leaving surfaces looking even and smooth. Airbrushing lets you pay attention to minor details and give impressive results on your football helmet.

Final Thoughts: How To Paint a Football Helmet

Avid football helmet collectors and players understand the confidence boost of a well-painted helmet. The paint allows you to add a personal touch to the team helmet and make you stand out among other players. However, before going crazy with the spray paint, confirm that your league rules allow it.

Select the colors, sheen, and shine levels you aim to achieve. Practice before the paint job to minimize errors. Remove accessories on the helmet, like the face mask and padding, to prevent them from getting painted or over-sprayed. Suspend the helmet and paint at a consistent distance and pressure to achieve a smooth finish.  

Nothing says game on, like a newly restored football helmet. It is a creative way to intimidate your opponents.

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