Do you not like the current color of your paintball gun? Or maybe your paint is beginning to flake off and you need a new paint job? No matter the reason, if you want to change the color of your marker then you only have three options to choose from — anodizing, powder coating, and spray paint.
The best way to paint your paintball gun is to get it anodized, with the second-best being powder coated, and of course, spray painting would be the worst of the three. However, using spray paint is by far the cheapest option, and you can do it all by yourself.
And the good news is that anyone can learn how to spray paint a paintball gun. I’ll walk you through the process step by step, all you have to do is follow the steps listed below and you’ll have yourself a new paint job in no time!
But remember, spray paint isn’t perfect, and not everyone should use it for painting their paintball gun. Continue reading below to learn if you should use spray paint for your marker, and if so, how to spray paint your paintball gun the correct way.
Should You Spray Paint Your Marker?
While some players may be fine using spray paint for their paintball gun, it’s certainly not for everyone.
But is spray paint good enough for you?
For starters, if you plan on ever selling your paintball gun then I wouldn’t recommend using spray paint on it at all. Spray paint will drastically lower the resell value as most players aren’t going to want a spray paint job on their paintball gun.
Now if you don’t care about ever selling your marker, then the next question you have to ask yourself is do you care about paint flaking off? If you use spray paint on your paintball gun then you can expect the paint to eventually flake off over time. And even if you do everything perfectly the paint still isn’t going to look as good as an anodize or powder coat paint job would.
However, if you have an old Tippmann, BT, or Rap4 paintball gun (or something similar), then spray paint would be a viable option for painting your marker. Spray paint is also a viable option if your paintball gun isn’t very expensive.
Since both anodizing and powder coating can cost a lot of money, it simply isn’t worth it for paintball guns that cost less than the desired paint job. Now if your paintball gun is fairly expensive or you may be interested in selling your marker one day (or just want a good-looking paintball gun) then you’ll either want to pay to get it anodized or powder coated.
Let’s find out if either of these painting methods is better suited for your paintball gun.
Anodizing vs. Powder Coating
The best two methods for painting a paintball gun are anodizing and powder coating. I’ll discuss both of these painting methods and let you decide if you would be better off anodizing or powder coating your paintball gun versus using spray paint.
Anodizing is the type of paint used on all aluminum paintball guns — and for good reason too. It looks great, comes in a variety of different colors and color combinations (splash, fade, acid wash, etc.), is highly durable, and doesn’t chip, peel, or anything else that you would expect by using normal paint.
The reason anodized aluminum doesn’t react as normal paint does is because anodizing is essentially the process of dying the metal. But because the aluminum is dyed instead of painted, it’s only .0005 to .0001 thick and doesn’t mess with gun tolerances as powder coating can.
The main disadvantage of anodizing a paintball gun is that it can be fairly expensive. The average price to anodize a paintball gun a single color is $200 and for multiple colors or a splash, fade, sponge, or custom color design you can expect to pay around $250.
Unfortunately, only regular aluminum paintball guns can be anodized. If you have a paintball gun that’s made from metal, Glass Reinforced Nylon, or even die-cast aluminum such as a Tippmann A5, then you’ll have to go with another paint option such as spray paint, Duracoat, or the next style of painting I want to mention — powder coating.
Powder coating is the process of spraying a plastic-like powder substance onto a surface and then baking it in an oven until all of the plastic particles melt together to create a nice and durable finish. And while many players believe that powder coating doesn’t look good on paintball guns, I couldn’t disagree more.
As with anything, there are both right and wrong ways to do something, and if you powder coat something the wrong way, it’s going to look bad. Whereas if you do a good job powder coating something then it’s going to look good. Another common myth about powder coating in the paintball community is that the paint job is going to easily flake, peel, or chip off. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
While powder coating may not be as durable as anodizing, it’s still extremely durable compared to other types of paint. Powder coating is commonly used on car parts and heavy-duty industrial equipment.
Powder coating also comes in a variety of color options and finishes such as metallic, texture, river, and wrinkle. Here’s a good website to give you an idea of the different types of powder coating colors and finishes.
How to Spray Paint Your Paintball Gun
If you’ve decided spray paint is the best option for your paintball gun then let me teach you the correct way to spray paint your marker. Here’s a list of all of the items you’ll need to buy beforehand.
- Spray paint
- 300-grit sandpaper
- Painters tape
- Exacto knife
- Dish soap and water
- Printer and paper (optional)
- Fishing line (optional)
Now that you know what to buy to spray paint your marker, let’s go through the process step by step so you know exactly what you need to do.
Choose the Color and/or Pattern
The first step to painting your paintball gun is to choose what color you want your marker to be, or if you want your marker to have multiple colors through a design or pattern. No matter if you want one color or multiple colors, you’ll have to search through many colors and brands (I’ve had good luck with Krylon) to find what color(s) you like best.
Disassemble the Paintball Gun
This step is simple. Disassemble your paintball gun and set aside all of the parts you want to paint. I recommend putting all of your spare parts and pieces into sealable plastic bags so you don’t lose anything while you’re painting your marker.
Prepare the Parts You Want to Paint
Now that your paintball gun is fully disassembled, the next step is to thoroughly clean the parts you plan on painting. Parts such as grips, logos, and eye covers should be put aside as they’re not meant to be painted.
When you’re ready to clean your paintball gun parts you’ll want to scrub it in the sink with dish soap and water until everything is perfectly clean and all of the dirt, grease, and paint is removed. Just make sure to wear gloves when touching your paintball gun after everything is cleaned.
You don’t want to get oil from your hands on the marker and mess up your paint job before it even gets started. It’s also important that you let your marker fully dry before you begin painting.
Sand Off the Old Paint
After the marker is thoroughly cleaned off, you’ll want to sand the body with 200 – 400 grit sandpaper to sand off the old paint and create a textured surface so that the new paint can adhere better.
After you’re done sanding everything, use a clean cloth to remove any dust or particles leftover that could prevent paint from sticking to the surface of your marker.
Print and Cut Out Stencils
Now that your paintball gun is clean, sanded, and everything is ready to go, you’ll want to print out your design on printing paper and cut out the empty space to make a stencil. After you’re done making a stencil, lay the outline of your design onto some painter’s tape and trace the outline with an Exacto knife.
Some players also like to layout leaves or ferns on top of their marker and then spray their spray paint on top of that. This creates a nice camouflage design and you won’t need to use a printer, ink, and paper either.
Tape Areas of Marker You Don’t Want to Paint
Before you can spray paint your marker, you first have to tape off the areas that you don’t want to get paint on. I would recommend taping off any part of the paintball gun that won’t be visible once everything is put back together.
You also need to make sure to take your time and do a good job putting the painter’s tape on your marker. If you manage to get spray paint on the inside of your paintball gun, you could negatively affect the performance of your marker. In some cases, even a few microns difference in thickness can cause unforeseen problems for your marker.
Hang Up Your Paintball Gun
While it’s possible to simply lay out some cardboard or newspaper and paint your marker on top of that, you will be able to do the whole painting process much quicker and more efficiently if you hang up your paintball gun with a fishing line or durable string.
By hanging your paintball gun in the air, you will be able to paint the entire paintball marker in one go and not have to worry about the cardboard or newspaper getting in your way and making your job harder than it needs to be.
Now that your paintball gun is hanging in the air, it’s time to get your can of primer ready by shaking it for two to three minutes. Once properly shaken, hold your can of primer around 8-10 inches away from your marker and spray in short and steady strokes until you have covered the entire area that you want to be painted.
This means that your hand should never stop moving once you begin to hold down the nozzle. Otherwise, you risk an uneven and blotchy paint job.
Bonus Tip: Do a spot test first onto a piece of cardboard or newspaper to help you get an idea of how to properly spray the paint, primer, or clear coat.
Spray-On Spray Paint
After the primer finishes drying, you can now begin to spray paint your marker the desired color of your choice. If you’re painting your marker with multiple colors, then you’ll want to carefully think of your design before you begin painting to make sure you spray the right colors in the correct order. In a camouflage pattern, the color(s) that you cover will be the color that shows when you lift the tape.
Read More: Can Paintball Paint Be Washed Off?
Once again, make sure to hold the spray paint 8 to 10 inches away from your paintball gun and spray in quick yet steady bursts. It may take a little bit of practice to get it perfect, which is why I recommend practicing beforehand with a piece of cardboard or newspaper.
When spray painting your marker, try to not apply too heavy of a coat as the paint will likely be uneven and drip and will take longer to dry. Instead, apply multiple thin coats of paint and allow each coat to fully dry before applying a new one (30 minutes – 1 hour).
Peel Off the Stencils
After your paint is done trying, you’ll then want to peel off any of the stencil tape you put on your marker. If you didn’t use any stencils and only painted your marker one color, then just ignore this step.
Spray-On Clear Coat
Allow your paint to dry for 30 minutes and then spray on a layer of clear coat. Wait around 10 – 15 minutes and then spray another layer. Two to three layers of clear coat should work perfectly fine.
If you’re a woodsball player, then I recommend using a clear coat with a matte finish (here’s one I found on Amazon) to avoid having any shine on your paintball gun. And while you don’t necessarily have to use a clear coat on your paintball gun if you don’t want to, it’s definitely worth the extra $5 if you care about the outcome of your paint job.
With a clear coat on your paintball gun, you have an extra-protective layer of transparent (clear) paint that helps to protect the main layers of paint below.
Allow the Paintball Gun Time to Dry
After you’re done painting your last layer of clear coat, let everything dry for 24 – 72 hours. You can speed up this process with a fan or heat lamp.
Some more experienced painters even recommend sticking the painted-metal sections of your paintball gun (no plastic or rubber parts) into an oven at a temperature of 200°F for 60 minutes and then waiting 24 – 48 hours and putting it in the oven again at 200°F for 30 more minutes.
I’ve never tried this myself so can’t say if it works or not. Do so at your own risk!
Peel-Off Masking Tape
Once your paintball gun is fully dry to the touch then peel off the masking tape and check to see if you did a good job. If you do manage to get any paint between the frame and body of the marker it could lead to performance issues with the marker.
Remember, only a few microns of thickness can make all the difference!
Reassemble Paintball Gun
Now all you have to do is reassemble your paintball gun and you’re good to go! Enjoy your sweet new paint job and don’t be afraid to send me some pictures to show me how it turned out. You may even end up on this article!