How to Paint a Welding Helmet

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Welding helmets tend to come in a basic color that isn’t personalized or unique in any way. Whether you’re trying to make your welding helmet more unique to you or you’re simply trying to give your helmet a makeover after months of use, there are many reasons a welder may decide to paint their helmet.

If you have chosen to paint your welding helmet, follow these 8 easy steps:

  1. Gather Your Materials
  2. Remove the Lens and Headgear
  3. Clean and Roughen Up the Helmet
  4. Tape Newspaper to the Inside of the Helmet
  5. Apply Primer
  6. Apply a Few Layers of Filler Paint
  7. Spray Paint with Desired Color
  8. Let it Dry

If you’re considering painting your welding helmet, then you need to know how to do it the right way. And if you think it’s some crazy and complicated task, it’s not! Painting a welding helmet is easy and only requires a few materials. Follow these steps and you will be on your way to a unique and fun welding helmet that you will be proud to wear.

How to Paint Your Welding Helmet in 8 Easy Steps

It’s easier than you think to add exciting colors and designs to your welding helmet. There are 8 critical steps in the painting process. With only a few materials needed and less than an hour, you will be on your way to a cool, customized welding helmet you’ll want to show off to everyone very soon. 

Gather Your Materials

Before you can get started with the painting of your welding helmet, you need to get all the essential materials gathered in one easy place. 

The materials needed to paint your welding helmet are:

  • The welding helmet that will be painted
  • Fire-resistant primer
  • Cloth and water for cleaning
  • A brush, wheel, or Scotch Brite to clean and roughen up the helmet
  • Newspaper for the interior
  • Spray paint in the color of your choosing
  • Duct tape to add designs

Note: Anything that is being placed on your helmets, such as the primer and paint, should be fire-resistant. Double-check the materials you’re using to ensure they are fire-resistant. Without using fire-resistant materials, you are putting yourself at risk of your helmet potentially catching on fire while you are welding.

Keep in mind that the duct tape is optional. Some people simply want to switch up the color of their welding helmet, while others may opt for fun stripes or designs that will require tape. Decide beforehand what you’re going to do to customize your helmet and take it from there.

Remove the Lens and Headgear

Some people may try to tell you that removing the lens and headgear isn’t necessary. In fact, many people who paint their welding helmets will simply tape off the lens and headgear and get to painting. The fact of the matter is, primer and paint can easily leak or seep into your lens and headgear, even when there is tape properly applied.

The best way to avoid this problematic situation is simple: remove the lens and headgear before you begin to prime and paint. Don’t worry – it’s not as hard as it sounds. In fact, most lenses and headgear will simply pop out of the welding helmet when they are trying to be removed. It’s quick and simple and won’t damage your helmet.

If you are unsure how to remove the lens and headgear on your helmet it’s best to check with the user manual. Every helmet is different, and you don’t want to risk damaging your helmet because you think you know what you’re doing. 

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Once you have removed these two items, set them off to the side. They should be kept far away from the primers and paints. You do not want to accidentally spray your lens and headgear with paint because it could potentially ruin them.

Clean and Roughen Up the Helmet

Trying to paint a dirty welding helmet is only going to cause more harm than good. Your finished project is likely going to look botched, with blotchy spots and rough areas that leave you with an ugly helmet. If you want a smooth, professional finish, always make sure you clean your helmet thoroughly before priming.

To clean your helmet, simply use a cloth and water to wipe away any dirt and grime that may be leftover on the helmet. For more stubborn dirt and grime, consider using a Scotch Brite, soft-bristled brush, wheel, or another abrasive product to remove the junk.

These abrasive products will also be used to roughen up the helmet a bit. By roughening the surface of your helmet, you will allow the primer and paint to stick to the helmet better. This will leave you with a smoother, glossier finish, so make sure not to skip this important step.

Note: At this point, you should also be checking to make sure there are no dents or cracks in the welding helmet. Any welding helmet that has dents or cracks should be thrown away because they pose a very high safety hazard while welding. Do not try to paint over cracks just so you don’t have to buy a new helmet. You would be endangering yourself.

Tape Newspaper to the Inside of the Helmet

It’s not just the lens and headgear that you need to worry about; there is the interior of your helmet to consider, as well. While getting primer and paint on the inside of the welding helmet might not cause a safety hazard, it won’t look good. If the point of painting your welding helmet is to give it a revamped appearance, then you don’t want a subpar paint job.

So, how can you make sure that there is no harm or unsightly slip-ups resulting in the interior of your welding helmet being messed up? Tape some newspaper to the inside of the helmet. The tape should be strategically placed, so it does not get in the way of the exterior paint job, though.

Make sure that the newspaper is covering the entirety of the interior. By doing so, you lessen the chance of any paint encountering the interior. The tape should be placed on the edges of the helmet. With proper taping of the newspaper, you will have a much easier time performing a thorough painting job on your welding helmet.

Apply a Primer

Some people who have painted their welding helmet may tell you that primer isn’t necessary. However, most people are firm believers that paint primer is a critical element in the painting process, whether you’re painting a house or a helmet. 

Here are a few reasons why primer is highly recommended:

  • The preparatory coating ensures that there is better adhesion. This means you won’t have to worry about the paint fading or flaking off over time, and you won’t have to do 15 coats for the paint to stick. The paint will better adhere to the helmet quickly and easily and you will end up with a smooth, more vibrant shade. 
  • Primer increases the durability of the paint. Paint can chip and scratch easily. But if you are using a primer before applying the paint, then you don’t need to worry as much about your paint getting ruined. The overall durability of the paint increases significantly with primer, so don’t skip this step.
  • Primer also provides protection to the helmet. The primer will act as an extra safety net for the welding helmet. While this doesn’t make your helmet indestructible, it does better protect it from dents, cracks, and scratches. 
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As you can see, primer is a critical element in the painting process. Remember: when buying your primer, always make sure it is fire-resistant. Without fire-resistant protection, you risk your helmet catching on fire while you weld. 

Make sure your primer is also clear, so it doesn’t interfere with the end result. Spray the primer generously over the helmet, making sure that there are no spots that have been missed. Once you’re done priming, let it dry off before proceeding to the next step.

Apply a Few Layers of Filler Paint

Another step that might be overlooked is the application of filler paint. Usually, the main reason that it is overlooked is that people don’t know what it is. 

Filler paint is a type of paint that will act to fill in minor imperfections found on the surface. Remember, you cannot paint over dents and cracks. But tiny nicks in the welding helmet are going to happen over time, and as long as they are minimal and not found in the lens, you can safely continue to use your welding helmet.

These slight imperfections can leave you with a blotchy paint job in the end. That is why filler paint is such an excellent idea. The filler will fill in the voids and small imperfections, leaving you with a much glossier, smoother finish.

Another great reason why you should consider filler spray paint is that filler paint is rust-resistant. This is another great thing you might want to add to your helmet because it can help prevent it from starting to look rusty and old. 

Filler paint will get rid of small imperfections while extending the life of your paint job. So, if you want to make sure your welding helmet looks professional in the end, it is highly recommended that you apply a coat of filler paint before finishing the job.

Spray Paint with Desired Color

Now, it’s time for the fun part – bringing your welding helmet to life with a brand new color! After the filler paint has dried, you’re ready to finish up the painting process. 

You have two choices when it comes to painting your welding helmet

  • Use a paintbrush and paint bottle. 
  • Use spray paint.

Spray paint is the ideal choice when painting your welding helmet. It is far easier to use and won’t leave your helmet with any unsightly and unwanted streaks. Spray painting a welding helmet will take around 5 to 10 minutes, but you may end up painting with a brush and bottle for upwards of an hour.

When painting your welding helmet, make sure that you are adding multiple coats. Adding multiple coats will ensure that the color stays bright and has less chance of fading in the near future. Multiple coats will give off a distinct hue, but a single coat can look lackluster and old.

If you are planning on adding designs to your welding helmet, wait for the coats to finish drying before applying duct tape in the desired design. Once your main coat of paint has successfully dried, then you can place the duct tape. Stripes, lightning bolts, or even more intricate designs can be painted onto the helmet. 

After you have placed the duct tape and are satisfied with the design, spray paint over the entire helmet with a different color. Again, make sure you are applying multiple coats of paint, so the colors are bold and long-lasting. 

Let it Dry

One of the most important steps in painting your welding helmet is to let it dry. Trying to move your welding helmet while it’s drying will only lead to imperfections in the paint, leaving you with a blotchy finish that is anything but smooth and professional.

No matter how many coats or designs you have placed on your welding helmet, a good rule of thumb is to let your welding helmet dry for several hours. During this time, you should stay away from the helmet, so nothing happens to the paint.

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Once the welding helmet is completely dry, then you will need to properly replace the lens and headgear. Make sure that this is done correctly. You don’t want to risk your safety because you haven’t properly re-installed your lens and headgear. Double-check to make sure that everything is working properly. Then, do a test run before using the helmet for welding.

Is it Safe to Paint a Welding Helmet?

According to OSHA, it’s likely safe to paint your welding helmet. There are just a few things to remember when you decide to paint your welding helmet:

  • Always use fire-resistant paints and primers. This cannot be stressed enough. Without fire-resistant materials, your welding helmet is at risk of catching on fire while you are welding. Always double-check the materials you are purchasing before applying them to your welding helmet.
  • Never prime or paint a helmet with major imperfections. Any welding helmet that has major cracks or dents should not be used, let alone painted. Thoroughly inspect your helmet before applying primer and paint to ensure it is suitable for use.
  • The paint should not affect the welding helmet. When painting your welding helmet, you need to make sure it’s not going to interfere with the overall safety and construction of the helmet. Such things like paint making its way onto the lens is a safety concern that should be avoided.
  • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Most welding helmets won’t have an issue with painting. However, every welding helmet is different, and you should check with the manufacturer to make sure that the welding helmet can be safely painted. 
  • Make sure you can demonstrate that the welding helmet is just as effective with the paint job. One of the major things that OSHA looks for is the effectiveness of a welding helmet. If you can prove that the helmet is still safe to use while welding, then there should be no issue with painting your safety helmet.

To put it simply, painting your welding helmet isn’t a major safety concern. As long as you are following the manufacturer’s instructions, aren’t covering up major imperfections, using fire-resistant materials, and not compromising the effectiveness of your welding helmet you should be fine.

Impressive Welding Helmet Makeovers

Welding Champs published an article in July of 2019 titled “20 Impressive Welding Helmet Makeovers” that showcases some of the most creative paint jobs and customizations of welding helmets. If you’re looking for inspiration for your helmet’s paint job, look no further!

The article shows the three most popular themes for welding helmets – Star Wars, Avengers, and Minions. Star Wars helmets include Darth Vader, Clone Trooper, and Boba Fett while the Avengers helmets include two Ironman designs and a Hulk hood. The Minion helmets are bright yellow and fun just like the minions they are modeled after!

Other custom designs featured in the article include:

  • The Patriot – a blue, silver, and white design
  • Flaming Hot – a black base with awesome flames throughout
  • Welding Warrior – a Spartan-like helmet 

Conclusion

Painting a welding helmet is a fun and fairly simple activity that can completely change the appearance of your helmet. In just 8 few simple steps you can switch up your style and make your welding helmet more personalized and customized to your preferences. 

However, you must make sure that you are always doing everything as safely as possible, such as using fire-resistant materials. Take your time and don’t rush through the steps, or you may end up with a botched paint job.

Benjamin

Hello, I'm Ben and welding has been a great outlet for me creatively for over 5 years now.

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