How Much Aerosol Paint Do I Need (Motorcycle and helmet)?

When you do a motorcycle paint project using aerosol spray cans, you need to know how many cans to buy for the amount you are spraying. For a motorcycle the panels are very different sizes than a car, so we’ve created a useful estimator just for motorcycles.

Obviously, the size of the area you are going to spray determines how much you need. But it’s more than that, because each coating (primer, base color, clear coat) might need more (or less) paint, depending on number of coats you are spraying, and if you are spraying the whole panel, or just part of it.

For a motorcycle and helmet, below are some rules of thumb for how many cans of each paint, assuming typical panel sizes and typical coverage amounts. Of course, your mileage may vary, so you need to adjust these estimates up or down based on your particular case.


This coat typical needs the least amount of paint, because often, you don’t need to prime the entire panel. You are spot-priming, which means you need enough to cover the bare metal or plastic only. This is the area of the panel that has been sanded down to the bare metal or plastic. Check your directions on the number of coats you are going to apply (at least two), and estimate accordingly.

Base Coat

The base coat always requires multiple wet coats. For a motorcycle, each panel is small enough that you are almost always going to paint the whole item, instead of trying to blend the paint. Take your particular panel size into consideration when estimating the amount of paint you need.

Clear Coat

You are always going to clear coat the entire area that you painted, and you might apply 3-4 coats of clear coat to achieve extra gloss and extra chip protection (especially on a hood or front bumper). Therefore, your clear coat estimate may be on the higher side.

1 reply
  1. Vern
    Vern says:

    I see your ‘spray paint per piece’ chart is rather vague IF someone is doing a whole bike. Many bikes have some wild angles to measure.
    [SUGGESTION] Is it possible to post by square foot (S.F.)? Eg: Take a 1 S.F. piece of paper and lay it over your bike section by section adding up each S.F.. This will give the person a relatively close amount of paint needed. If the bikes sections are small & long, make a rectangle piece of paper that still covers a S.F.. Instead of 12″ by 12″ try 8″ by 18″ or 6″ by 24″. The longer pieces can wrap around corners of panels which is usually difficult to guess’timate. Obviously one only needs to measure 1/2 the bike since the other side is the same.
    Still it’s always SAFE to add 15-25% more for over-spray loss or re-touchups if needed.
    Quite a few times I went with this S.F. paper way in the past, it most definitely was easier & more accurate.


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