Spray a Prayer for the Best Spray Paint for Rims

Spray a Prayer for the Best Spray Paint for Rims

What is the most cost-efficient way to completely overhaul the look of your vehicle? Painting and restoring your rims. Daily wear and tear can undermine the aesthetics of everything from a highly-modified import to a classic American muscle car. Wheel rash, scratches, and chips all contribute to a reduced visual appeal.

In this guide, we will explain how to fix these issues, which paints should be used on the rims after restoration, and how to best care for your wheels into the future.

Factors to Consider in Rim Paint

When choosing the perfect accent for your ride, color ultimately comes down to personal preference. Some people may love a bright neon pink finish while others will despise it. We are not going to be evaluating which colors are aesthetically pleasing. Instead, this section is specifically about quantitative specifications that identify the great paints from the subpar.

What Do I Need?

To paint your rims, you will need a primer, which can also act as the main coat, and then, after sanding your rims, applying a base coat and a clear coat to finalize the look. You don’t have to use a primer, but you’ll get a better result if you do.

We’ve included all three types in our list, and some can do multiple jobs – we’ll note in the reviews which. In our full buyer’s guide, we detail the whole process from start to finish.

Color/Finish

When we think of color, we generally think, “Which color? While the literal paint tone is essential, when we say color in this section, we refer to the individual colors’ brilliance or uniqueness.

Is all that glitters gold? There are many varieties of gold on the market. Color is always going to be somewhat objective, but there is a mainstream appreciation of what makes a good finish stand out from the crowd.

Color matching is a huge deal for many car owners. Let’s take a 2019 Hyundai IONIQ as an example. It has a rose gold accent on the interior and the exterior of the vehicle. While yes, any rose gold should be close, a company like Dupli-color makes specific paints that accurately match OEM colors, including accents.

Quality

Consistency, few streaks, and not requiring too many coats – as well as having a decent aerosol delivery system – are the hallmarks of good quality paint. Most paints will look good if a pro uses them. The real test of quality is how it looks when used by an amateur.

Quality also encompasses the ease of use and how well the product performs. For example, some paints are incredibly cheap but have very poor quality assurance on the nozzle, cap, and even color intensity. We will not be recommending these brands because they are notorious for being inconsistent, and the minor savings will not equal the time you may take to repaint or wait for an exchange.

Durability

One of the most critical factors that differentiate brands and finishes apart from each other is durability. Resistance to water, chips, heat, and other environmental hazards are all aspects of durability.

There is a reason why you should not use just any paint on your rims. Certain paints are resistant to a very high temperature, which is vital due to the extreme heat generated by your brakes and calipers. This is also true as far as water and environmental factors are concerned. Paint on the exterior of your car must be waterproof and weather-proof; otherwise, it will peel, bubble, and crack, and that is not a look anyone is going for.

The final factor when it comes to durability is chip or scratch resistance. Most automotive paints have very high damage resistance. Rim paint is no different.

Cost

The average can of wheel paint costs you around $10. Some manufacturers offer entry-level paints at about $5 a can price point, but others can range up to approximately $30 a can. Overall, the cost is usually in line with quality and durability, but not in every case. We will clarify when a product is an excellent deal.

With those factors in mind, let’s get your wheels spinning with our favorite car paints on the market.

Top 10 Best Spray Paints for Rims 2021

1. Best Overall Rim Paint: Dupli-Color Wheel Coating

Dupli-Color Wheel Coating

Why we like it: Dupli-color offers a highly accurate color match and an excellent quality finish for a price that should be in almost anyone’s budget.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Size: 12 oz Cans, Single, or 6 Pack
  • Colors: Bronze, Graphite, Black, Gold, Alloy, White, Copper, Rose Gold, Silver
  • Finish: Matte, Metallic, Gloss, Primer

Dupli-color was founded in 1938 by US Army Lt. Colonel Sigmund E. Edelstone. The colonel had an innovative idea to offer automotive paint perfectly matched to OEM paints. Starting from his garage, he purchased the paints from Sherwin-Williams and made the products available to his customers. Today, Dupli-color is a Sherwin-Williams company and stays true to its founder’s desire to demand perfection in automotive paint matching.

This product comes in many different colors, but our personal favorites are the Rose Gold and White. The Rose Gold has a metallic finish that looks so smooth and professional and color-matches many OEM finishes.

Of all the rim paints available, their White is the best. The flat matte finish on this paint is out of this world. You might be thinking, “Who wants white rims?” However, once you see it, it will be hard to forget.

The Dupli-color High-Performance Wheel Paint is available in either single 12-ounce cans or a pack of six 12 ounce cans. We would recommend picking up a case as it’s a better deal overall, and you will always have a little bit leftover.

Duplicolor High Performance is easy to use and easy to spray correctly. They have one of the best quality assurance systems on the market, with very few nozzle failures or clogs.

It is almost always cheaper to buy a six-pack than buying three cans, which is somewhat shocking. It is a positive for those who will be painting a full set of wheels, though, because the discount found on the six-packs allow you to not worry about running out of paint.

Overall, Dupli-color has fulfilled Lt. Colonel Edelstone’s dream of perfectly matched automotive paints. The quality and colors are unmatched by any other automotive paint manufacturer, and the value and QA are top-notch. We highly recommend Dupli-color High-Performance Wheel Paints as the best overall rim paint.

Pros

  • Color Match
  • Great Quality
  • Many Colors/Finishes

Cons

  • Expensive

2. Best Primer: Dupli-Color Scratch Filler & Primer

Dupli-Color Scratch Filler & Primer

Why we like it: Perfect Filler and Primer 2-in-1 that can deal with minor surface imperfections before base coats.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Size: 11 oz. Cans, Single
  • Colors: Gray, Red
  • Finish: Primer

Dupli-color comes in again with a fantastic product meant to meet the needs of most amateur painters. Available in either gray or red, this primer will work on almost any potential base coat color. The gray version is slightly more expensive as it is more universal, but both options should fulfill your needs.

It is sometimes harder to determine how good a primer is just by looking at it. This product stands out from the rest of the market to consistently get complete coverage with very few downsides. This filler and primer are rust-resistant and are usable on high heat applications such as wheels and brake calipers.

What sets this product apart from the other primers is its inherent ability not to dry out before you are done with your project. This primer has a slightly longer dry time, and that is a good thing. Certain brands use a quick-dry formulation in which the primer will often dry inside the can before you are done, which leads to beading and bubbles on the final product.

This product is recommended to those who have only minor scratches and imperfections on their wheels. When you can save a bit of money and get a top-performing product, what’s not to love?

Pros

  • Filler & Primer
  • Great Quality
  • Long Dry

Cons

  • No Black Option

3. Best Clear Coat: USC Spray Max 2k Aerosol

USC Spray Max 2k Aerosol

Why we like it: USC Spray Max 2k is a professional product in a rattle can. It can stand up to abuse, providing you allow ample time for the coat to settle.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Size: 2-11.8 oz.Cans
  • Colors: Clear
  • Finish: Clear Coat

The USC Spray Max 2k High Gloss Clearcoat is the best clear coat you can buy in a can. It’s as simple as that.

This clear coat goes on stiff and glossy. It has a bright sheen to the finish that makes it look like it was professionally done. It also has an excellent polishability and can be waxed with very high resistance to abrasion and scratches. This clear coat is rated for up to 500 degrees Celsius and should withstand any heat from brakes or other external factors.

It is a relatively easy product to use but has one quirk that may lower its overall appeal. When you take off the lid, the first time you use it, you have to push the nozzle down to make the internal compartment break so that the actuator can mix with the urethane inside the can before spraying. Once you do that, you have about 48 hours to use it before it dries out.

It has a twelve-hour dry time at 20 degrees Celsius, so make sure to do this last before heading to bed. Then in the morning, you can get back out there to do one more coat. Make sure to follow the directions on the can when applying it.

We highly recommend letting the wheels sit for 48 hours after clear coating to allow that outer coat to harden without cracks or environmental hazards.

Pros

  • Best Canned Clear Coat
  • Great Quality
  • Combo 2-Pack

Cons

  • Long Dry Time
  • Complicated Instructions

4. Best Premium Wheel Paint: VHT SP188 Wheel Paint

VHT SP188 Wheel Paint

Why we like it: VHT offers a top of the line wheel paint that rivals expensive automotive grade paint only available from manufacturers.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Size: 11oz Cans, Single, or 6 Pack
  • Colors: Gloss Clear, Aluminum, Chevy Rally Silver, Gloss Black, Graphite, Satin Black, Matte Clear, Ford Argent Silver
  • Finish: Clear, Base, Gloss, Matte

VHT offers an easy to use, matte or gloss base coat and clear coat that will rival OE manufacturers’ rivals. This paint is best when used in conjunction with our guide below.

As far as the color and finish options, VHT leaves a bit to be desired. The limited selection may sway people to choose a different product. However, those who do choose VHT will have at least two color-matches available in Chevy Rally Silver and Ford Argent Silver.

This paint is resistant up to 250 degrees Fahrenheit and has built-in resistances to chips and cracks. It is specifically formulated to be used on wheels. It can be used on either steel or aluminum wheels and will rejuvenate the look of your car. Durability is a concern with paint exposed to the elements, and VHT offers the highest quality paint that we could find for this specific application.

There is one additional downside to using VHT over other brands is the price. While it is a top competitor, the color selection, in addition to its price, leaves it in the premium category.

Pros

  • Above Average Color-Match
  • High Durability
  • Great Dry Time

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Few Color Options

5. Plasti Dip Luxury Metal Spray

Plasti Dip Luxury Metal Spray

Why we like it: Plasti Dip offers a beginner-friendly luxury grade finish that is non-permanent and a great way to learn how to paint automotive parts and wheels.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Size: 2-11oz Cans w/Cangun
  • Colors: Aintree Green, Black Sapphire, Glacier White, Limegold Metallic, Satin White Aluminum, Selenite Gray, Ultrasonic Blue, Volcanic Red
  • Finish: Base, Metallic, Matte

Plasti Dip has a mixed reputation; you either love it or hate it. It is most well known for being used to “wrap” cars in a semi-permanent paint and has been the topic of discussion for many automotive purists since its release.

One of the most significant advantages of using Plasti Dip over conventional paint is that it is removable and is an extra layer of protection between the natural environment and the exposed metal on wheels.

There are many different colors available in their luxury lineup, which, as far as we are concerned, is more of a marketing term than an upgrade over their existing products. To be entirely fair, they have expanded their canned line-up for this product specifically, so it is advertised.

Of all their color and finish options, the Aintree Green is incredibly vibrant. It would fit the aesthetic of an old school Jeep or off-road 4×4. It has a slight “pebbling” found in almost all Plasti Dip paints and looks good in green. Another top pick would be Volcanic Red, which is brilliant. It has a decent amount of brightness built in to make your wheels stand out from everyone else out there.

The best part about using Plasti Dip aside from the removability is the increased durability and protection. Different from almost every other paint on the market, the coating that is applied ends up being slightly rubberized and, in turn, allows for a little bit more action before scraping or chipping.

When using Plasti Dip, you do not need to sand and prime your wheels unless you want the coating to be permanent. We recommend coating one wheel to see if you like the finish, and if you do, peel, then sand and prime.

One final thing that needs to be said about any Plasti Dip product, cleaning, and prep, is even more critical than standard paint. This is because it adheres to the metal rather than melding with it. Ensuring that you follow all the steps and take your time will significantly increase the finished product’s overall appeal.

Pros

  • Great Price
  • High Durability
  • Removable/Non-Permanent
  • Unique Look

Cons

  • Non-Permanent
  • Requires Careful Prep

6. Best Budget Wheel Paint: Krylon Automotive Sandable Primer

Krylon Automotive Sandable Primer

Why we like it: If you are looking for a budget-friendly primer and base Krylon is your best bet for quality and consistency.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Size: 12 oz Cans, Single
  • Colors: White Primer, Black Primer, Black Acrylic Enamel, Gray Primer, Green Primer, Red Rusty Primer, Silver Base
  • Finish: Primer, Base, Matte, Gloss

One of the most well-known paint companies in the United States today has to be Krylon. It has been the budget rattle can option of everyone from your grandma to the neighbor kids spraying their name on the side of the McDonald’s bathroom stall. Their wheel paint is no exception to their budget-friendly lineup.

While they don’t offer many base coat options, they have a handful of hard to find primer colors, specifically Green and their Rusty Red. These would be great for both of the Plasti Dip base coats if you decide to make them permanent.

If you are looking to save money on paint and primer, this is the best option. It is a fantastic option for people on tight budgets who still want that new look. There have been issues with the nozzles being less than perfect, leaving drips and drying out quickly. But aside from minor inconveniences and the lack of base coat options, Krylon offers a good product.

There’s not much that separates this line from their standard paint line other than slightly increased heat resistance. If their primers were compared to food, they would be spaghetti without sauce. There is absolutely nothing wrong with how they perform, but they miss the part that completes them. They have a 2-in-1 filler primer that is their best product by far and feels like the chef finally decided to add the sauce to your primer-y noodles.

Overall, Krylon offers a good product line when it comes to automotive primers. They are not going to impress you or your neighbors, but they will do what they are meant to do. The lack of options on base coat colors is pulling this line down, but the ones that are offered are adequate.

Pros

  • Great Price
  • Obscure Primer Colors
  • Brand Recognition

Cons

  • Only One 2-in-1 Option
  • Only 2 Base Colors
  • QA Issues

7. Dupli-Color HWP103 Clear High Performance

Dupli-Color HWP103 Clear High Performance

Why we like it: Dupli-Color offers a top-tier clear coat at a reasonable price that often flies under the radar of casual buyers.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Size: 12 oz Cans, Single, 6-Pack
  • Colors: Clear
  • Finish: Clear Coat

Dupli-Color is back again, this time with their High-Performance Clear Coat. It appears that the company decided to make this outstanding clear coat available at a reasonably competitive price.

Though many companies produce clear coats, very few are genuinely spectacular; this is one exception to the rule. They get to sell more products, and you can get a professional-grade clear coat for a fraction of the initial cost.

This paint has a sheen gloss that is virtually unmatched in the market; it looks great, is smooth to the touch, and offers a little more bling than other brands do. The most important factor that truly sets this apart from even our top pick for clear coats is the overall durability of this coating has.

Durability can be hard to quantifiably measure without damaging your wheels. However, one statistic is often overlooked on clear coats, and that is their temperature resistance. Most readily available automotive clear coats have a maximum temperature ceiling of between 200 and 250 degrees Fahrenheit. This paint has a ceiling of closer to 500 degrees, which allows it to be used on both wheels and brake calipers, engine parts, and other high-temperature applications.

We recommend that if you plan to use a Dupli-Color base coat, you should probably use this clear coat as well. If you’re not using Dupli-color, then the Spray Max will still be the better product if you have no intention of using it within a high-temperature application.

Pros

  • Perfect Gloss Sheen
  • Hard & Durable
  • Works Great with Dupli Color Base Coats

Cons

  • Difficult Application
  • Dries Too Quickly In Heat

8. VHT SP756 Engine Enamel

VHT SP756 Engine Enamel

Why we like it: VHT’s Engine Enamel line has many fascinating and unique colors that can be used as accents on engine parts or wheels.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Size: 11 oz Cans, Single, or 6 Pack
  • Colors: Chrysler Hemi Orange, Competition Ford Blue, Gloss Yellow, Grabber Green. Hot Pink, Chevy Orange Red, GM Holden Blue, and many others.
  • Finish: Enamel Gloss

VHT has one of the most diverse lineups of high-temperature automotive paints available today. With over 30 different shades, many of which are color-matched to specific, mostly American, OE manufacturers, you are bound to find the right choice. With a quick dry of around 30 minutes and a complete dry overnight, this might be one of the better options out there.

However, just like the other offerings by VHT, the price pulls this down slightly and would be a hurdle for some purchasers, especially if you happen to have larger aftermarket wheels.

This paint has one of the highest-rated temperature resistances of 550 degrees. This is fantastic as a dual-use paint. We especially recommend the 6-packs on this product because of the overall savings per can and because there are so many other potential uses in accenting with this.

If all you are worried about is how good your wheels will look after a full restoration and paint, this is the paint we would recommend. It has fantastic flaking on the metallic selections. The glossy finishes are reflective, and the few matte options also stand up to scrutiny.

The biggest downside of this product other than the price is just how massive the paint itself is. The spray feel is slightly different if you do not shake it exceptionally vigorously. This is to be expected with the extreme heat rating. It is just something that may be difficult to adjust to or learn with.

We recommend this product to people looking for intense colors that don’t mind spending an extra few dollars on a can to get a perfect finish. We would also recommend having some previous automotive painting experience because this paint is not very forgiving and can get goopy if you are not careful. Again, always read the instructions on the can. They do matter and are different from brand to brand.

Pros

  • Quick Dry
  • Many Colors Available
  • Heavy Coating

Cons

  • Difficult Application
  • Expensive
  • Requires Extra Prep

9. Rust-Oleum 260510 Automotive 2 in 1 Primer

Rust-Oleum 260510 Automotive 2 in 1 Primer

Why we like it: Rust-Oleum enters with a competitive 2-in-1 primer at a low price with decent coverage.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Size: 12 oz Cans, Single,
  • Colors: Gray
  • Finish: Primer

Coming in at under $8 is a huge selling point and one that Rust-Oleum doesn’t want to give up because frankly, in comparison to the other primers available, that’s about all it has going for it. 2-in-1 filler primers have to be good enough to fill those millimeter-sized scratches and give you good coverage. This paint gets the coverage right, but the “filler” seems to be missing or just not the best.

As you can probably tell, this is not one of the premier primers on the market, but its price does make up for that somewhat. We like products that do exactly what they are advertised to do. This sadly fails on that front. The nozzles on these cans can be drippy and are not high quality.

However, what keeps this product relevant is its ability to get full coverage with many coats out of this one can. It has a swift drying time of around 10-15 minutes and does an outstanding job for priming darker base coats. The color on the cap is a bit deceiving. The primer itself is quite dark, especially after the three or four recommended coats.

If you are looking for a cheap primer and don’t care about the filler because either you already filled with Bondo or have new wheels, this is the way to go. Low cost is rarely a good sign for automotive paint, but this does fulfill the needs of priming, just not filling.

Pros

  • Cheap
  • Good Coverage
  • Quick Dry Time

Cons

  • Filler Doesn’t Work
  • Lid Doesn’t Match Color
  • Nozzle Drips & Leaks

10. Plasti Dip Rim Kit

Plasti Dip Rim Kit

Why we like it: Plasti Dip offers an all-in-one package for people looking to do a solid black non-permanent finish on their rims.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Size: 6-11 oz. Cans w/Cangun Grip
  • Colors: Black with Glossifier
  • Finish: Gloss

This is an exciting product that could quickly be the best wheel paint in the world or the worst. It depends on what exactly you are looking for. Like other Plasti Dip, this is a removable non-permanent finish that can be peeled off when you are done with the look or are looking to sell your vehicle.

This specific package comes in just under $55 and includes four cans of their black Plasti Dip spray and two cans of the glossifier, which acts as the clear coat in this application. This will generally be enough for the most common wheel sizes. If you are unsure as to how Plasti Dip works, check out this video by DipYourCar.

One common complaint relating to this kit is that the glossifier is somewhat inconsistent. Our advice would be the “clear coat” in this instance is entirely optional, although recommended. If you decide that after getting a good solid black coating that you like how it looks, just skip the glossifier as it can, unfortunately, take away from the look it has.

Remember that this paint product is not permanent. If you mess up, you can peel and try again. This is probably the best option for someone who is just learning how to paint wheels or automotive parts and is worried about ruining something or changing something permanently and regretting it later.

Overall, this kit, with its added glossifier and Cangun bonus, is impressive. We’d recommend to even complete beginners. Quality, durability, and ease of use is the name of the game that Plasti Dip is playing, and they hit a home-run with this product right here.

Pros

  • Great Price
  • High Durability
  • Removable/Non-Permanent
  • Unique Look

Cons

  • Non-Permanent
  • Requires Careful Prep

Complete Buyers Guide to Spray Paint for Wheels


You decided you wanted to paint your wheels but then remembered you ran into the curb at McDonald’s at 3 am the other night. It’s okay, ‘tis but a flesh wound. This section will be going over exactly what you need to repair wheel rash, chips, and scratches on your rims to get the best possible paint finish.

How to: Prep, Repair, Prime, & Paint Rims

On average, to get your rims professionally refinished and painted, it will cost somewhere between $100-$250 per wheel depending on location and overall wheel condition. This is quite expensive, but the good news is that it will cost you significantly less to do independently.

On average, if you follow this guide, it will cost around $100-$150 to do a full set of wheels, with a primer, base coat, and clear coat finish. This is much more affordable for the average consumer, but there is one downside, time. Even the most seasoned detailers will spend close to three hours per wheel, not including the time spent in between coats.

Weekend projects are great time sinks, and painting your wheels is no different. Plan on popping open some cold drinks, ordering some delivery, and spending time perfecting your ride.

Once you’ve got your primer, base coat and clear coat ready, here’s what else you’ll need.

Other Tools

  • Bondo
  • Sandpaper
  • Cangun Grip
  • Sanding Block
  • Gloves
  • Face Mask
  • Goggles or Safety Glasses
  • Index Cards
  • Masking Tape

Prep Your Wheels

Before starting, you will want to remove any wheel weights with a flathead screwdriver; they should just come off without much hassle.

Next, if your wheels are separated from your tires, remove the wheel stem using needle-nose pliers. If you have not removed the tires from the rim, that’s fine; just make sure to cover it with some 3M Automotive Masking Tape. Index cards staggered between the lip of the rim, and the tire itself will keep the tire’s sidewall clean.

Cleaning

You are going to need to clean the wheels with some soapy water and a towel. Remember to use warm or hot water. Automotive degreaser will also work if there is a lot of dirt and muck on the rims. If you are still having problems removing some excess dirt, a Scotch-Brite or rough sponge may help.

It is important to clean both sides of your wheel because you wouldn’t want to touch the backside of your rim, get grease or oil on your hands and transfer that to the clean side.

We recommend painting both sides of your wheels, especially if you are going from black to a different color, as the backside will sometimes be visible.

More than anything else, don’t rush the cleaning. It will be significantly harder to utilize the Bondo if the rims are still dirty. Make sure the wheels are dry before continuing.

Repair Your Wheels

For deep gouges and curb rash, you will need Bondo Metal Filler to fill the indentations and imperfections in the steel or aluminum. However, before you get to the filling, you’re going to want to sand down the wheel.

Sanding the Wheels

Start with the deeper gouges and scratches. You’re going to use some 80-grit sandpaper to even out these imperfections. When using the 80-grit, you will want to sand down to the bare metal below the original finish.

The sanding process must eliminate that gouge. For curb rash, you can use the same 80-grit sandpaper, or if you have a rotary tool with a brush head, that is also very effective.

Before moving on to the metal filler, make sure you blow off any dust on the surface of the wheel because that may cause inconsistencies in both the paint and the filler.

Finally, go over the entire surface of the rim with rubbing alcohol and a clean towel. Once you can rub down the wheel with a clean towel and cannot see any excess dirt, then and only then can you proceed to use the filler.

Using the Filler

Read the instructions on the container. There is a ratio for the included hardener and the filler that is important to get right but is relatively easy. If you purchased the 3M Bondo Metal Filler, the lid is 3 inches in diameter; this will be used to mix the hardener and filler.

Put a half-inch (deep) of filler on the lid, make sure it is covered to the lip, and then add the recommended 35 drops of hardener. Now you can knead it back and forth with the included mini-spatula and spread it out. The Bondo will generally harden after about 20-30 minutes, so this is where you’re going to want to hurry a little bit.

Now, you have the clean wheel and prepared Bondo; you’re going to want to start filling any of the damaged spots that you sanded down previously. Don’t worry about leaving too much Bondo in the damaged sections. If needed, you can sand it down later, right before painting.

Make sure to force the Bondo into any of the gaps left from the sanding. If you have gloves, you can use your fingers to shape it into the right form. Let it dry for 20 minutes. Remember, it’s all going to be sanded one more time before paint or primer is ever applied.

Sand Your Wheel Again

Next, sand the entire wheel smooth using 80-grit sandpaper—sand down all the areas that you used Bondo to repair the damaged wheel. You can use a sanding block for the flat sections if you have one as it makes the whole process much more expeditious.

For the areas with the curb rash, you will just hand sand it on the wheel’s lip without using the block. Spread the sandpaper around the lip tightly and go all the way around the wheel, careful not to stay on one section too long.

Finally, sand down the entire wheel surface with 320-grit sandpaper. This is to smoothen the entire face of the rim to allow for better adhesion of the primer and paint to follow. Make sure the wheel is completely clean using rubbing alcohol and a fresh paper towel.

Prime Your Wheels

At this point, you’re ready to paint.

You will want to use a primer filler to fill the final few gaps left by both sanding processes. For the first coat, don’t worry about covering the entire surface of the wheel. This is generally referred to as glazing the wheel. Specifically, this initial process is a standard side-to-side sweep of back and forth motion so that the wheel gets dusted or “glazed” with primer.

Let it dry for about fifteen minutes, and you can move on to the second coat.

Primer coat number two is similar but this time, try to get more of the surface covered in paint. Make sure to change your angles to get the crevices coated in primer. You don’t want to miss something and then have to come back to it later.

The third coat of primer should be a total and complete coverage of your wheel. There should be no bare metal or exposed base at this point. This should be your final coat before you choose colored paint. In specific scenarios in which there was significant damage to the wheel, you may want to do a fourth coat. This is to ensure the paint sticks and that the primer fills any gaps.

When the final coat of primer has been drying for at least an hour, you can then go about sanding down the entire surface of the wheel with 600-grit sandpaper. There is no need to wet-sand your wheels. You don’t want water getting into the primer; it just makes your wait time significantly longer. The whole point of sanding is to ensure that the wheel is smooth and ready for paint.

Wipe down your wheels with rubbing alcohol and a fresh towel, and once they dry, you can start painting.

Painting Your Wheels

Now, the moment you’ve been waiting for, for at least a few hours, due to all the prep, priming, and sanding. Let’s get to painting the wheels.

If you have decided to go with a metallic variety of paint, make sure you shake the can very well. Metallic paints run very easily and can ruin all that work you just did if you mess this part up. Fear not, it may sound daunting, but it’s really simple if you follow this one rule. More light coats with minimal coverage are always better than a thick single or double coat. Don’t rush.

Using the same method of side-to-side spraying, lightly coat each wheel. Keeping the nozzle farther away is always better. Make sure to keep an eye out for a drippy nozzle as that sometimes occurs.

You will probably do between 3 and 5 coats per wheel, depending on the color, finish, and humidity. Once you are happy with the look of the wheels, let them dry.

Once the wheels have dried, repeat the same process with your clear coat, two light coats, then one final thicker coat with complete coverage. Let them dry, and congratulations, you have just learned how to repair professionally, refinish, prime and paint a set of wheels.

FAQ

Can I Use Any Paint on My Wheels?

You should only use specifically designed temperature resistant automotive wheel paint, along with a primer and a clear coat. Normal paint will struggle with the high heat of the wheels and will melt, strip away and cause other issues.

Do I Have to Use Primer?

No. If you are using a Plasti Dip or vinyl spray, you do not need to prime your wheels. For any conventional paint, it is highly recommended to prime your wheels.

Final Thoughts

Painting your wheels personalizes and reinvigorates the look of your vehicle. There are many different options for color and finish. Whether you are looking for a sleek matte black or a wacky lime green, there are so many fun and exciting directions you can take. If you’re looking for other ways to adorn your car and are thinking of painting the whole body of your vehicle, our article on best paint guns for cars might be of interest. Happy trails.