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A Guide To The Best Wheel Paint – What You Need To Know!

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Wheels like walls or other surfaces can benefit by the use of a paint as the paint enhances its appearance in a way that will make it look brand new plus you can customize and make it your own. Not only that, as with other surfaces the paint could also serve as protection for the wheels from rough conditions like high temperatures and from road debris that could cause blemishes, corrosion and chips. Simply put it’s a no nonsense simple way of upgrading your vehicle. Choosing the best wheel paint, however, can make all the difference but with so many options to choose from it can be quite a challenge. 

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Before we talk about the specifics of the best wheel paint, let us first discuss wheel paints. Like if it’s actually a good idea to get one, how to do the actual painting and other information that might help you make your decision on having your wheels painted and choosing the right product.

Is painting wheels a good idea? 

First of all, painting your wheels does not cost as much as buying a new set of tires if you simply need a change in appearance. So it’s not such a bad idea. Like for example, you may want new gold wheels but are out of a budget. You can turn your existing wheels to a custom gold one adding major style. Better yet, even refurbished wheels can look totally brand new. So savings is adding up by the second while you can still get almost any look your heart desires. It’s important however to pay attention to details if you’re doing it yourself.  


You can even use regular paint as the wheels don’t get as hot as brake calipers. But at least use one that works on metal. But remember that a DIY paint can chip and is not very durable. But for the price it’s not really such a big deal if you can simply just repaint them after a couple of years. If you are able to choose the best wheel paint you may even be looking at more years before needing to do another repaint. 


Speaking of customization, professional service is already offered for those who especially want to show off their personal identities and interests through their cars, specifically their wheels. As discussed, sky's the limit or according to your heart’s desire you can personalize your wheels by powder coating or painting it to match your favorite design, color or even sports team. The more unique your customized rim is, the better.

Is it better to powder coat or paint wheels?

It is important to decide carefully whether to paint or powder coat your wheels. The powder coating does more than just add color and gloss to a wheel but also creates a shield. The powder coating process has advanced technology creating a more durable finish than wheel paint.


If applied correctly, the powder coat provides a more superior finish than paint, and also does not affect the strength or structure of the wheel. ,ooe Much better than paint, it resists chemicals, prevents scratches and does not chip.

How to paint rims


1. Prepare your materials


This includes wheel cleaner, soap or degreaser, rags, wire brush, sandpaper set, steel wool, rubbing alcohol, paint thinner, painter’s tape, plastic roll, newspaper or index cards to cover the tire, primer, paint and clear coat.


  1. Decide the area where you’ll be painting


Choose a well ventilated area if you decide on painting indoors. It should be dust free as possible and protected from the breeze. In daylight, you can do it outdoors on your driveway or even on the grass. But on a breezy day best to do it  indoors. And wherever you do it make sure to protect the surrounding areas from the overspray of paint.


  1. Take off the wheels from the vehicle


To prevent spraying paint over your vehicle take all 4 wheels off it. You will also be more likely to get drips, runs and poor coverage painting your wheels while they are still mounted on the car.

  1. Thoroughly clean the wheels.


Having the perfect finish, everyone is aiming for, starts with the preparation done on the wheels. The wheels must be washed thoroughly with a combination of soap and degreaser. Soap spray on the wheel's surfaces and make sure that the areas between the spokes are taken into account. Remove all the grease, grime and dirt from the wheel using a rag and rinse with water thoroughly. Using a clean rag dry and clear any residues.


Thoroughly cleaning the wheels also includes getting rid of any existing paint chips and rusts. If you don’t have a smooth surface before priming it follows that you also won’t have a smooth finish. Brush the wheel using a wire brush and elbow grease. Use whatever method possible to remove all traces of the rust and other deposits.


  1. Sand the Wheels


Smoothen the surface by sanding the wheel after cleaning it. Use a 300 grit sandpaper first and then proceed to using a 500 grit sandpaper. After sanding the wheel, go over it again now using a steel wool until you have a very smooth finish.


  1. Polish the wheels


Wash the wheel off again after sanding it then dry it. And then proceed by wiping it down with alcohol, mineral spirits or paint thinner. Scrutinize the wheel carefully and make sure the surface is smooth. This prep work is the secret of professional paint shops. They achieve the professional looking finish of painted car wheels because they go through all these prep work. This cleaning process requires dedication to details. Only after the wheels are completely clean, smoothen and dried are they ready to be primed.


  1. Protect the vehicle and the surrounding areas from overspray


Before proceeding to the actual painting protect your tire and valve stem first from being oversprayed. This is where the painter’s tape, newspaper or plastic or a stack of index cards come handy. If you choose to use index cards carefully tuck them under the rim in between the tire and rim. Double check that the cards overlap so there’s no gap where the wheel can be exposed. This can be done fast and easy but is not exactly the best method.

The best way to do it is by using painters tape with newspaper or plastic. To start with, tape the edge of the tire with the painters tape. Make sure to get the tape under the rim, once again between the wheel and the tire. Secondly, have another round of painters tape secure some newspaper or plastic over the tire. Proceed by taking a strip of painters tape to cover the valve stem to keep the paint from clogging the stem. Lastly, to secure the surface area underneath the wheel from overspray, put the wheel on a drop cloth, tarp or bed of newspapers. 

  1. Prime the wheels.

After all the prep work it’s time to prime the wheels. The primer prepares the surface of the rim for the efficient paint adhesion. Ideally, you should apply 2 to 3 coats of self-etching primer. What is a self-etching primer? This type of primer can provide a smooth finish for the paint while also keeping it from corrosion. Apply each coat lightly and allow each coat to dry thoroughly before applying the next coat.

  1. Paint

Spray the paint back and forth at the proper pace and distance. Refer to the label for the recommended number of coats to apply. Don’t spray too close to the wheel or the paint will run. Wait for each coat of paint to dry before applying the next coat.

  1. Apply clear top coat

Do it the same way you would apply the primer and paint. One or two coatings should be sufficient.

Can I paint my wheels without removing them?

The answer is yes, you can. There are many tutorials online of your choosing if you want to proceed painting that way. It takes away the hassle of taking off the wheels and putting it back on and you still get good results. The key is to put masking cards around the rim to prevent overspraying paint over areas not to be included.


What is the best wheel paint?


VHT Gloss Black Wheel Paint


The best overall — the best of the best — the top pick all across the board of every review site, the best wheel paint to date is the VHT Gloss Black Wheel Paint. It’s a user friendly matte wheel paint that has superior heat resistance (up to 250F) and chemical resistance. Harsh elements such as brake dust, sand, high temperatures etc would not be able to give the VHT paint too much trouble. With its good formulation the paint will look just as good as new for years without any cracks and fades. It lays smooth and thick with its EZ Touch conical nozzle, and dries up quickly too. It creates a professional look, and a little spray goes a long way.


It is available in 2 styles and in eight wheel-cool colors. The paint is best used with the three-step process, which is prime, paint and finish to get the best long-lasting result. The top rated paint can also be used on both standard and custom wheels. It is also applauded for its level of durability when it comes to dust, chips and fading with protection added against rim oxidation. The matte finish  is solid and looks classy, but in case you need a little more gloss, you can always top it with a decent topcoat. 

The cost for the paint is also reasonable. If there’s anything negative about it — it would be the fact that its nozzle has received a few complaints for clogging in mid-use. 


The next top pic is the Rust Oleum is intended for wheels made of steel or aluminum. You also have the option to use it on plastic hubcaps. The paint can restore the wheels' original look. And because the paint is especially made for metal wheels it prevents corrosion and rust, producing a smooth and weather-resistant finish.

The paint lays on smoothly, leveling out nicely providing excellent coverage. The steel paint when combined with a clear coat creates a deep liquid shine. Overall, the paint dries exceptionally fast for handling. 


What makes it only second to the VHT is the fact that the rims may need some touch up after driving in certain rough conditions as the paint may chip and flake off over time. So it is not very durable. The paint can also produce a bit of a rough texture, regardless of how the surface underneath has been prepped and smoothen. The paint is offered in 5 colors, which is a bit fewer than other products found on the market. Moreover, the paint has a flimsy nozzle but then again it has an entry level price.


The Rust-Oleum paint proves its best value for a single can is enough to cover an entire rim that includes the front and the back sides. And also you do not need to prime the rim surfaces before application as the adhesive capability of the paint is superior. So you no longer have to spend money paying for the primer and you no longer have to spend your valuable effort applying primer.


Dupli-Color Black High Performance Wheel Paint

Another wheel paint consistently top on the list is the Dupli-Color Black High Performance Wheel Paint. It is rated high for its adaptability, meaning it can be applied to any OEM surfaces, and is also available in a range of colors matching late model import and domestic vehicles. So imagine what a great investment it is if you intend to give your worn-out car a touch-up after many years of use. 

The paint also employs an Ez touch 360-degree nozzle allowing you to spray paint seamlessly with ease. On the downside the paint clogs up easily so it’s important that you keep the tip wiped off. 


There are a lot of wheel paints already made available on the market and more than looking at reviews for the best wheel paint it is important to do your own research — from deciding whether or not to paint your wheels, deciding what methods to use once you do want to push through, down to the wheel paint you’ll be using. The sky’s the limit — just do it right!

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