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Touch Up Your Chipped Bike Frame with Nail Polish

Nail polish, like duct tape, is infinitely useful. We’ve all heard that it’s the best way to stop a run in panty hose. It can also protect your bike frame if a bit of paint has chipped off – yet another thing I’ve learned at Grease Rag.

No rusty bike frames here!

My frame is currently rocking a clear top coat over all those little chips (it’s part of my theory that if my bike looks crappy, it’s less likely to get stolen). Nail polish comes in at least as many colors as bike frames do, though. I’ve seen some incredible match jobs. Carefully color-matching your frame also gives you the added option of matching your fingernails to your ride at any point in the future.

A friend walked her bike right into Walgreens. Store employees informed her that they don’t allow bikes in the store but had no response for, “How else am I supposed to match my nail polish to my bike?” They let her bike in, and the frame now looks good as new.

You’re on your own for sweet-talking drug store employees. Here’s how to do everything else, geared towards a steel frame where rust is a real threat. If your bike is made of anything else, feel free to color-match for cosmetic purposes.

1. Take your bike and all materials outside (you don’t want your kitchen to smell like nail polish for two hours!)

2. If your frame has rusted in places, use a small amount of fine gauge steel wool to get down to bare metal. Failure to do this means that the rust will continue to eat your steel frame. If a small amount of vigorous rubbing with steel wool doesn’t do it, the rust might be too deep. Take care of chipped paint when it happens so your frame doesn’t get to this point!

There was some debate at Grease Rag as to whether my frame had rusted everywhere the paint was gone, or if the reddish brown color was, in fact, primer under my bright blue paint. Having located a few spots of true rust on the frame that were a decidedly different shade, I happily concluded that my ’79 Schwinn has a rusty-color base coat and applied nail polish directly to this.

3. Clean your frame using a solvent and a clean rag. Windex works. I use the same homemade mix I use in the kitchen: 50% white vinegar, 50% water, with an unscientific squirt of liquid dish soap for cutting the grease. Make sure everything has dried before proceeding.

4. Apply nail polish. Let dry. If you’re going for an expert, this-bike-looks-brand-new aesthetic, use a tiny, tiny brush from an art store instead of the one included in the jar. If you go this route, clean the brush in nail-polish remover afterward for the next time some idiot locks up too close to you.


One comment on “Touch Up Your Chipped Bike Frame with Nail Polish

  1. If you’re a perfectionist, when you’re finished painting, you can take the back of a piece of sandpaper and lightly buff any edges of your paint dab. Smoooooth.

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