Tips for Painting a Used Forklift

Let’s face it, forklifts work just as hard as you do. Susceptible to scratches and dents, there will come a time when your forklift will need to be re-painted. But before you grab your sprayer and paint, you should be aware of OSHA regulations for painting a forklift. Here are some tips and key points for the job.

Painted ForkliftThere are several precautions OSHA requires when a forklift is painted. OSHA standard 1910.178 states that forklift labels and nameplates must be kept readable. To paint over these would make a forklift unsafe to operate. Any decals or directions must be kept clear of paint. The same OSHA standard also requires that only noncombustible agents and solvents with a high flash point (100 degrees F or higher) be used on forklifts. This standard also mandates fire hazard precautions based on the flash point of the agent used on the forklift and that the user take necessary precautions based on the agent’s toxicity. The user must also ventilate the area and wear personal protective equipment.

OSHA’s 1910.94 standard mandates spray-finishers isolate their operations in spray rooms apart from business operations. The 1910.94 standard must line up with the 1910.178 standard when spray painting occurs as only electric industrial trucks can be used in areas where combustible particles are normally in the atmosphere. Furthermore, gasoline, diesel and liquid petroleum gas powered forklifts must not drive through paint or spray rooms. These types of forklifts don’t have the same spark-limiting safeguards that electrical fittings do on EX forklifts.

Before you Begin

Before you begin painting, park the forklift in an area that’s apart from any business operations. Make sure it’s located where you won’t have to move it again until you’re finished painting. Start by cleaning the machine. Undo the battery terminals, wrapping them with tape to prevent them from damage. You’ll need to scrape away the grease from the inside of the runners of the mast. Often, they’re soiled by dust and grit. Some people use thinners to degrease and clean while others use steam cleaners for the whole machine. Whatever method you prefer, you’ll want to remove the forks and lower the fork holders onto pallets. Doing it this way avoids having to mess with the hydraulics.

Strip the paint off the inside runners where the fork-holders move.  Put painter’s tape on the inside where the fork guide runs and remember to tape off other areas like decals and directions. . With the prep work out of the way, you’re ready to paint.

Some opt to degrease and paint the fork holders. But you can just clean them for re-assembly. Forks should be cleaned but they don’t need grease. Just grease the parts of the forks that run along the fork-holders. Once the paint is dry, remove any tape and clean any other necessary areas. Keep in mind that a forklift may not be cleaned this deep for another five or ten years. It’s best to clean as much as you can while it’s out of use.

Cleaning and re-painting can breathe new life into your forklift. By following these OSHA rules and doing the necessary prep work, you can continue normal business operations while giving your forklift the TLC it deserves.

Leave Comment

5 thoughts on “Tips for Painting a Used Forklift”

  1. All the forlifts are cleaned, services and restored at as new condition. Amazing value. Thanks for the great guide.

    1. The counterweight necessitates the uses of body filler since it is a cast piece and naturally has a number of divots on it’s surface (even the factory uses body filler on this part of the lift). However, if you use body filler on other parts of the lift, you would want to get the dent to as close as possible to original condition before using it. Since forklifts tend to be in high vibration environments, any poorly adhered or thickly applied body filler will quickly crack off.

  2. I’m looking for a professional paint job on my forklift is there any company’s that specifically repaint forklifts and replace decal and Seats on forklifts?
    I need estimates. ?

    1. This is a very region specific question. Not all dealers re-paint forklifts and even less do a professional job. You’ll probably just have to call around to the various dealers. What you might want to consider is to have a local auto-paint shop paint the lift after getting the correct stickers. We do carry a universal kit that covers all the OSHA required safety stickers for most forklifts on the link below. If the auto-paint shop has trouble locating the factory colored paint, we can provide that as well. We can also order forklift specific decals (such as the brand name or model number for the mast). Just give us a call (314-209-9999) or e-mail ( and we will be able to get what you need. Just make sure that they don’t paint over the original data plate.

      Forklift Safety Decal Kit

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top