This post may contain affiliate links. We may earn a small commission from purchases made through them, at no additional cost to you. You help to support resin-expert.com
If you are the lucky owner of a four-wheel vehicle, you probably at some point curbed your wheels. This can be a very upsetting experience regardless of whether you are an enthusiast or not. Sadly, having your wheels resurfaced can be quite a costly activity. Other reasons can result in your wheels requiring refinishing. For example, debris such as stones can cause some significant damage to both the surface of your wheels and your tire walls if they are thrown up at a bad angle. The following article will assist you in bringing some new life to your tires, and advise you which is the best spray paint for rims and wheels.
Table of Contents
Why Refinish Your Wheels?
You might want to refinish your wheels for several reasons. In many cases, they have just seen a lot of mileage and will require a fresh coat of paint to bring life to them. This is not the only reason why you might need to spray your rims. Sometimes, you may be struck by inspiration and you cannot wait to grab the spray paint and go crazy with the paint.
Perhaps you simply saw a rim similar to yours on another car and fell in love with the color. Or maybe your friend just got a new set of wheels and you want to compete by updating your wheels! The majority of people simply see their car as a means to get from one point to another, other people view their vehicle as an expression of their personality.
Cars hold cultural significance; they symbolize the past and the future of technology. That is one of the reasons why some people will go to great lengths to preserve their wheels and upgrade them. Perhaps they wish to match their wheels to their paint job, or it could just be that they are looking to repair corrosion that has appeared over years of use.
This might seem like something insignificant, that could potentially go unnoticed when you first look at the car. But it is undeniable, the drastic change it can have on your vehicle’s aesthetic. This only further reiterates the reason why it is always a great idea to refinish your wheels. You might be under the assumption that only a teenager working on his first car might wish to refinish the wheels but you could not be further from the truth.
Before top-quality spray equipment and modern paints were available to the everyday consumer, if you wanted to refinish your wheels you would have to seek the help of a professional. It is quite expensive to have a professional refinish your wheels. So, if you are looking to save yourself some money and still have a stunning finish on your wheels why not try tackling the task yourself.
Refinishing your wheels, yourself, will save you money and provide you with a new skill. You will have the added benefit of mixing the exact color you require and spraying it on just the way you want it. Would you like a sheen finish that gleams when exposed to sunlight? Perhaps you want a matte color with a subtle flip? All of this is possible, and more!
The only limitation is your imagination and all it requires is some good preparation, some spare time, and a bit of patience. Do not try to rush the process.
The Best Spray Paint for Rims and Wheels
There are many products available which all claim to be the ideal option for spray painting rims and wheels, but are they? When selecting a rim paint to use on your vehicle there are many aspects you will need to take into consideration. These include color variety, adhesion quality, price, and which condition the paint is graded for.
Best Overall: RUST-OLEUM Automotive High-Performance Wheel Spray Paint
Rust-Oleum is a brand that has been around for a long time – 100 years, to be exact! As a brand, they have adapted to the times and produce products using the latest technology advancements.
This automotive high-performance wheel spray paint is quite an impressive product, providing you with great adhesion, a stunning finish, and long-lasting protection, while all being quite well priced. The Rust-Oleum wheel paint is different from the other offerings on the market thanks to its oil-based formula that dries super-fast and takes only 10 minutes to set completely. Thanks to this you will not have to wait long between applying each coat.
When the Rust-Oleum wheel paint is completely dried, you will be left with a scratch- and impact-resistant finish. This means that your newly painted rims are not at risk of getting scratches from the stones that fly upon the road, or any other mishap.
This product will leave you with a top-quality, sheen finish. Sadly, there is a downside in that this paint is available in only one color, gunmetal steel, which might not be the look you are going for.
On the other hand, the paint is very versatile as it can be applied to almost any metallic automotive surface, and it will provide you with the same level of finish. Though we do recommend you use something a little more robust if you are going to spray your engine block, such as a high heat enamel paint.
- Oil based rust and corrosion resistant formula
- Suitable for metal wheels, plastic hubcaps and other vehicle parts
- Glossy, high shine dent and scratch resistant finish
Most Versatile: PLASTIKOTE Black Truck Bed Liner
While most products are only designed to do one thing, and they are normally quite expensive, there are some products on the market which are relatively versatile. These products offer you a well-rounded option for high-tolerance spray painting. This particular product is one of those, without the crazy price tag that you would expect with high-quality paints.
While this product is sold as a truck bed liner, it can be used successfully on any surface that could be exposed to regular surface abrasions and impact. Whichever surface you coat with this product you can be reassured that it is well protected. This spray paint can be used on a variety of surfaces and it creates surface friction which improves grip, so is ideal for use on railings, hand tools, sports equipment, and bathroom surfaces.
It is important to note that this product will not give you a finish with a sheen. You will end up with a matte finish. This will give you sleek lines that will accentuate the car’s wheel natural lines while muting them at the same time.
A positive aspect is that you will not have to worry about ensuring your wheels are quite as clean as you would have had you used a shinier paint as it hides the scratches, dirt, and grime very well in comparison to other paints. This is thanks to the matte finish.
Of all the spray paint for cars that we have come across, this one is the most reasonably priced. Taking its ability to withstand punishment, and its versatility into consideration we think this is a great product to buy if you are hoping to achieve a refined and yet distinct look for your wheels.
Best Finish: DUPLI-COLOR Silver Wheel Coating
Of all the paints we have covered, this product undoubtedly offers you the best finish. Dupli-Color manufactures a variety of paints, and this paint for rims is just one of their offerings. The paints available in this range offer you color with a rich base that is gorgeous from the second they are applied. The products made by Dupli-Color can be applied to an assortment of items including, marine vessels, home improvements, and motor vehicles.
Dupli-Color has only grown from strength to strength over the years, their experience in the industry, and the more they grow their product range, the better-quality products they produce.
This particular product offers you a finish that is almost reflective, and mirror-like and is of supreme quality as chrome paint for rims. What is great is that this product not only offers you a top-quality finish but also provides protection from impact and abrasion damage.
If you are simply spraying a new set of rims, or are looking to refinish your damaged rims, Dupli-Color offers you a product that you can use to completely refinish your rims or if need be, just do a few touch-ups. You can be confident in the knowledge that regardless of the extent of work required you will be left with a stunning, protective finish.
This product also does not take too long to dry between coats, with a drying time of just half an hour. This means you can apply as many coats as you wish to without waiting hours in between each layer for it to dry completely.
Another benefit to this product is that it will work well on almost any metallic surface. It might not be as versatile as PlastiKote, it will however allow you to apply a chrome finish to practically anything you want to. Making it an ideal option as a chrome paint for rims.
We do need to note, however, while this product will give you the best finish, it is, unfortunately, the most expensive option of the products we have mentioned.
Peelable Spray Paint: Is It Worth It?
We have addressed which are the best paints you can use to spray paint your rims and wheels. You might be interested in a few methods that are alternative options to use to refinish your rims. One of the more affordable options, though it is less common, is to use peelable spray paint to refinish your car’s wheels.
You might have heard of peelable spray paint under one of its other names, rubberized spray paint, or “Plastidip”.
This kind of paint is a coating that is semi-permanent that you apply over the car’s existing wheel paint color without having to sand-blast or sand them down first. The substance forms a durable coating once applied that offers protection to the majority of reasonable forms of abrasion and impact. But also offers you the option of being removable from when you need to replace the wheels or if you wish to use a different color.
You may wonder, if this is an option, why would you want to use paint? Rubberized paint is a lot cheaper but is still quite a new product in the market. It is also only available in matte colors which significantly limits your choices.
In addition, it can be quite difficult to apply, particularly if you have never worked with it before. Unfortunately, if you over-apply the product, apply it incorrectly, or create unwanted splatter, when applying this product, you will completely ruin your workpiece. We recommend you practice using the product before you begin applying it to your wheels.
Despite the paint being removable it can take some time to get it off. Working with the product, in general, will require a lot of effort. You will need a level of competency when painting your rims using rubberized paint.
If you have ever worked with a spray can before, then the learning curve will not be as steep and will only take you a few hours to work on your technique before you can start applying the paint to your wheels.
Knowing what you know, the question is still is it worth it or not? This all depends on what you are looking to get out of painting your rims. Do you plan on going off-road, or parking your vehicle anywhere that mildly corrosive materials are constantly present, then we suggest you do not use rubberized spray paint. You should also refrain from touching the applied product with a mild solvent or greasy hands.
It is fairly easy to spot repair when using this type of paint. Unless you are okay with the fact that you will have to constantly touch up your wheels, we do not recommend you put your wheels through a gauntlet to test its “metal”.
If it will help your decision, when you apply peelable paint with an adequately thick layer it can last for roughly four years and will require minimal to no maintenance during this time. When you feel like it is time for a new color, or the paint has reached the end of its life span you just peel it off and start again.
Some people might not think using peelable paint is worth it as conventional paint will last significantly longer if it is looked after well. On the other hand, rubberized paint is a lot cheaper and if you change your mind, you can change the color with ease.
The choice of what product to use is ultimately up to you. Are you looking to use a product that offers a high-quality finish that lasts long, but is difficult to maintain and costs a lot. Or would you like a finish that is removable, more affordable, does not last as long, and can only be purchased in limited colors. It is up to you!
What to Look Out for When Choosing a Spray Paint for Wheels
What characteristics should you look for when you are choosing spray paint for your rims? When you are painting with a given material there are characteristics you need to take into consideration. Mags, wheels, rims, whatever you may call them, are primarily made of two materials.
You typically find alloy rims on newer model cars, and older cars have steel rims. You should therefore select a paint that is compatible with these materials, or that has been specifically designed for use on car rims.
Unless you have decided that you want to paint your multi-million-dollar car with carbon fiber wheels yourself, which we do not think you will, you should select a paint that is graded for these metals.
Once you have selected the type of paint you are going to use, you will have to look at the colors that are available in that paint’s range.
Painting your wheels will have you looking for a specific texture, tone, and presence in the color you choose. So, selecting the correct balance between the choice of colors in a brand and adhesion quality is important, particularly as you will have to live with your selection for some time. Lastly, you want to look at what type of finish you will have when you have applied the product.
There are loads of YouTube channels and forums available to view that make money off testing the greatest and latest DIY brands, and while it might only be on the screen, it should give you a decent idea of what the finish will look like on these platforms. Alternatively, if you have purchased your paint from a shop, they might have an application sample for you to view (certain brands will supply these for in-store display purposes).
Your choice of spray paint will depend on your budget and what type of finish you are hoping to achieve.
How to Spray Paint Your Wheels
Now we are getting to the fun part. You will require a few items before we can begin. Ensuring you have all the necessary tools at hand will save you from running around when your wheels are half sprayed. You will require the following materials:
- A cleaner to use on your wheels
- A filtered mask
- A wire brush
- A tarp to cover the floor
- Sandpaper (superfine)
- Clear plastic sheeting
- Steel wool
- Sealing tape
- Rubbing alcohol
Preparing Your Workspace
Half the process when it comes to spraying your wheels is spent preparing and cleaning your work area. For this you will require a space to work in that is well ventilated, but not too ventilated as you do not want dust and sand blowing in and running your wheels.
If you are working on the ground when painting your wheels, you will require a tarp or newspaper to place down so you do not have random semi-circles left on the floor when you have finished. If you are painting your wheels while they are suspended on a chain or rack, you will still need to place down a tarp or newspaper and ensure that your wheels are not suspended near any backing such as a wall, which could end up with paint on them accidentally.
When your workspace has been prepared, collect all your tools together in one place. We suggest you assemble all your tools on the side of your dominant hand, so they are easy to reach for and your other hand will then be free to manipulate the angle of the wheel as needed. Finally, make sure you are using a mask that is graded for working with these types of paint and that your hands are adequately protected by your gloves.
Removing Your Rims
You will have to remove the rims from your car to paint them. You will require some basic automotive knowledge to complete this DIY task. If this is the first time that you paint the rims of your car, we suggest you seek assistance instead of attempting it on your own after simply viewing a YouTube tutorial.
Your safety needs to be a priority! When removing all four wheels of your car, ensure that your car is securely on a jack or lift depending on what you have available, before you remove the wheels.
When the wheels have been removed, you want to place them with their inner facing towards the ground (this is necessary, regardless of if you will be suspending your wheels or not). Ensure there is sufficient space between your wheels so that you do not find yourself tripping over the wheels when working on them.
Cleaning Your Wheels
While it is not a must, should you have a power washer, this step will be a lot easier to do. Whether you have one or not, you will have to use some degreaser on your wheels before you can begin. Apply the degreaser to the surface of your wheels as well as the inner portion of the wheels. Allow the degreaser to sit on your wheels for the length of time recommended by the manufacturer.
You will know that the degreaser has done its work when the grease lifts off in a sort of foam. You can wipe this away with ease using a clean cloth. When you have finished removing the degreaser, take a rag and apply some soap to it and use it to remove any stubborn stains that might have been left behind.
You can use a power washer to give the wheels a once over, but if you do not have one then you will have to take a sponge and get to work. Ensure that there are no stray particles left behind in the wheels’ recesses before you move on to the following step.
Removing Imperfections in Your Wheels
This step is going to take the most effort and hard work. The surface needs to be smooth before you can begin painting it. There is a good chance that the rims have chips in them, or even oxidization if they have been in the car for some time. You can use your wire brush to remove any dust or chips that might be present on the surface of the wheels.
As there are four wheels this process can take some time. to speed things up you can use a wire brush attachment on a hand drill, as it will save you time and energy!
When you have finished removing any rust spots you can use some of the fine-grit sandpaper to work on these spots. Ensure they are flush with the rest of the wheel’s surface. This can take some time as the angle of some of these spots can be hard to reach. Once the paint is applied there will not be any inconsistencies in the wheel’s surface.
When you have finished removing all the spots on all four wheels you can use the steel wool. The sandpaper can scratch up the surface quite a bit, so using the steel wool you can smooth out the surface before beginning with the next step.
You do not want to rush these steps as you will then end up with the wheel’s surfaces having varying textures when you apply the paint.
Preparing and Covering Your Wheels
Despite the wheels being made of metal alloy, you will not be using a standard metal primer. This is the stage where you will require rubbing alcohol/spirits.
Before applying any alcohol to the surface of your wheels, use water to wash the wheels. Allow the wheels time to dry, and inspect them again. When you are happy that all the imperfections have been removed from your wheel’s surface you can use a clean sponge or cloth to apply the spirits.
You will need to be wearing your gloves and mask when doing this part of the process as the chemicals can cause some discomfort and make you feel a little lightheaded. Once the spirits have been applied you should use some plastic and painter’s tape to cover up the tire walls.
The flanges that overlap the tire must not be covered up, rather place the plastic underneath this flange and tape past the point. This will ensure that the entire edge of the rim is exposed but has no tire wall. This will need to be done on all four wheels before you can move on to the next step.
Priming and Painting Your Wheels
The last step in the process of preparing your wheels before you can start applying paint is priming your surface. You will need to apply several layers of primer to your wheels to ensure adequate adhesion and a smooth finish when you apply the paint.
Stand at a medium distance when applying your primer and ensure that the primer is applied to all the nooks of the wheels. Pay extra attention to the application of your primer if you have intricately detailed wheels. You want to apply two or three coats of primer and allow each layer to dry before applying the next layer. If you are unsure of the time required for drying you can simply consult the manufacturer’s instructions.
When the primer has dried completely, inspect your wheels and check for any stray particles on the surface before continuing with the process.
Take your selected spray paint for cars and follow the manufacturer’s instructions to determine how it should be prepared. Stand an adequate distance away from the wheels and begin spraying them off, using an even, uninterrupted pass over the wheel.
Consistency and distance with each pass are very important as the lack of either will result in the paint running. Should the paint run, it will mean more work for you, as you will have to correct the problem. When applying the paint ensure the inner recesses of the wheel are completely covered, including the areas you will only see from the side. After each coating, you will need to inspect each wheel to ensure all areas have been covered.
To determine how much time is required for each layer to dry, consult the manufacturer’s instructions. When you have finished applying the paint and all the layers have dried completely you can remove the painter’s plastic and tape protection before you reinstall the wheels. This guide on how to paint wheels will provide you with the best results and save you a lot of unnecessary additional work.
Now that you know what is necessary when looking for the best wheel paint, how to inspect your wheels to determine if there is any damage, why you might choose to refinish your wheels, how best to go about finishing your wheels, and what are the best wheel paints available on the market, it’s time for you to put your new knowledge to the test and get started. Remember to implement the necessary safety measures. Wear the correct safety gear, work in an area with adequate ventilation, and ensure the car is secure when elevated.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I Buy New Rims or Paint My Rims?
It all depends on what your end goals may be. If your current rims are showing wear and tear and have experienced significant mileage, then it might be time to replace them. It is worth noting, that if your rims are salvageable, it is less expensive to refinish them as opposed to replacing them.
Does Spray Paint on Rims Last Long?
If done correctly, spray-painted rims will last for a long time. The trick is selecting a high-quality spray paint to use on the wheels and ensuring the necessary preparations are done for each wheel before you begin spray painting. Ensuring you have confidence in your technique and doing the necessary preparation will mean you end up with the best quality finish that lasts for a long time.
Can You Spray Paint Your Wheels?
Yes, if you take your time, and focus on the necessary preparations you will be able to paint your wheels. You will require a paint that has been formulated for use on car wheels. You will also need the relevant tools to work with and to ensure that your surfaces have been prepared adequately.