How To make Any Glossy Paint Metallic

It can be hard to tell on TV sometimes, but most football helmet shells have a metallic or pearl color coat. There are teams where it is way more obvious (Bills.  If you are using professional paint with a spray gun it is easy to get a metallic or pearl effect. There are tons of auto paints available in metallic or you can add your own flake. That is not practical though, if you are making a DIY custom helmet. I have figured out cheap ways to make any gloss can spray paint metallic or pearl without having to buy expensive paint or equipment.

Pick Your Color

There are many paints to choose from and I have gone into which ones are best in other articles. Once you decide what team you are doing, choose the best color paint. On the final color coat we will add the metallic.

Metallic Paint

There are two ways you can get a metallic paint without adding a second step. There are a limited amount of colors that come in metallic. Silver and gold being the most obvious colors, but there is also various shades of black, red and blue. These paints are seriously metallic, so you they may be far more sparkly than anything on the field. Also, not many of them match up with team colors so more than likely only a couple of the colors will be useful, but they are the easiest and cheapest way to get a metallic shell.  The other option is Dupli-color perfect match auto paint. Which is a more expensive lacquer. It comes in smaller cans and is generally more expensive, but it comes in a variety of colors and most or all of them are metallic paints.

Metallic Paint Technique

If you don’t want to use the metallic shimmer paints or the auto paint, you can add a metallic final coat yourself. The thing about the metallic paints is, that for silver and gold, they are pretty much clear coat with the metallic flakes. We can use this to our advantage and give a very light coat to our final gloss coat and give it that metallic or pearl flavor without going overboard.  The other option is glitter spray. Yes, the kind you see in the craft stores. I really like the

The Design master spray works great for adding a subtle metallic final coat.

Step By Step

  1. Prep, apply primer, sand, etc.
  2. Spray on gloss coats. (I usually do three coats)
  3.  After final gloss coat use the glitter spray to apply an even very light coat to entire shell. It is important keep a distance form the helmet and spray evenly, otherwise you will have spots that are more metallic than others.
  4. let dry
  5. Apply three coats of clear gloss coat
  6. that’s it!

Keep in mind, that you may need some practice to get it right. Try painting and old board or another object to practice applying the glitter. If you mess up you can always apply another coat of gloss and try again.


For my Packers helmet I used industrial School Bus yellow tractor paint. This paint was just plain gloss, but I used metallic paint to give it that ultra metallic look.

For my Throwback Bills I made plain gloss white, pearl.