I painted my wheels over the weekend and they came out really well so I thought I would post up my method in hope that it helps someone out down the line.
What you need.....
Standard Car Jack
at least 2 jack stands
wrench to remove wheel lug nut's, I also recommend a torque wrench
320 grit sand paper
wrapping paper or even printer or construction paper
simple green cleaner
tack cloth or microfiber cloth (you will need a few of one of the other)
gloves, eye, and breathing protection is recommended
4 cans of Duplicolor wheel paint in desired color
2 cans of Duplicolor wheel clear coat ( I recommend buying 3 just in case)
Duplicolor prep wipes (optional)
Once you gather your materials it’s time to get to it……
First things first, check your weather forecast. You will want less than 70% humidity and temperatures over 65*. Also, plan on having the car out of commission for at least 2 days. This will allow you to take your time and do this correctly. I did my front wheels the first day and my rears the second day so I will write this as if you are doing the front and rear separately.
Here we go……
Start by breaking all the front lug nuts loose. DO NOT remove them yet, just get them started.
Jack up the front of the car now and then lower it onto jack stands. NEVER WORK UNDER OR AROUND A CAR ONLY SUPORTED BY A JACK!
You can now remove the front wheels and roll them over to your work space.
Spray a thick coat of simple green on the wheel and start scrubbing with some rags or a brush…. Whatever it takes. You need to remove ALL break dust, dirt and grime that is on the wheels, don’t worry about putting scuffs in them with a brush, your painting them remember.
Once the wheels are SPOTLESS you can remove the center caps if you have them, you wont want them on during painting so you can get every part of the wheel painted.
You should now put on your respiratory protection and start sanding with 320 grit sand paper. This is one of the most important parts. You don’t need to sand to the metal but you do want to remove the clear from the wheels, any spot you miss is going to be susceptible to cracking or flaking off over time. REMEMBER, the prep is the most important part of painting, Sanding the stock wheels takes allot of time to do properly, just keep at it.
OK, now you have a very well sanded wheel that is ready to have paint applied BUT first we need to remove that sanding dust. Break out the dish soap and go to town scrubbing, you need to get every bit of dust off before you start painting. The soap will also remove any kind of polish or wax that has escaped the first cleaning and sanding. Wax under your paint is one of the worst things that could happen, as the paint will not stick.
here is a pic to give you an idea of what your after, this wheel is about 75% sanded...
Do a final wipe down with your tack cloth or microfiber. The wipe or rag should be clean after you wipe the wheel down. If it’s not then pull the soap back out and re clean.
Once you get a clean wipe you can roll the wheel into your paint area and start taping off the edge. Some people just shove note cards in the gap between the rim and tire, I recommend my method as it totally covers the tire so you can focus on painting and not avoiding over spray. As you can see from the photos, I started with the front edge then move on to the back.
Now that the edge is taped off, use wrapping paper of some sort to cover the gap between the tape on the front edge and back edge. The picture below demonstrates a completely covered wheel.
Time to sling some paint! I would do one or maybe two wheels at a time, don’t paint all 4 at once as you need to apply the entire clear coat within one hour of applying the last coat of color.
Do a final wipe down to get the oil’s from your hands off the wheel. This is the time to use those prep wipes if you bought some.
Be sure to read the directions on the can of paint, most paint is self explanatory but some need to be used a certain way.
NOTE: For an even spray you need to keep the can as close to perpendicular to the surface as possible. Failure to do so will result in uneven coverage.
Dawn your respiratory and eye protection…. Safety first
Start with the back of the wheel first, focusing on edges and a light overall coat. It is ok for some of the original color to show thru on the large areas.
Based on the paint cans recommendation (most say wait 10 min.) go ahead with the second coat once that time has passed. This time you want to make sure those edges are totally covered, you should also move to the front and lay paint on all the edges there as well. The large areas on the back should now be close to or totally covered and the front should have a light coat as well. Be sure to ROTATE THE WHEEL AS YOU GO! If you don’t rotate you are likely going to miss a few spots.
This third coat is primarily focused at making sure you have total coverage on the front and back of the wheel. This is not a super wet coat but merely a check of complete coverage. Be sure your still rotating that wheel.
This last coat will be a bit wetter than the previous. You want a nice “shine” as you lay this coat but remember to keep moving and don’t get the can too close or stop mid sweep. Be sure to rotate the wheel as you go ensuring total coverage.
Take a step back and admire your work. If you want to add more coats you can but you need to be careful because the paint will be more and more likely to run as you put more coats on. I used about a can on each wheel.
Ok, that’s it for the color. The Clear needs to be applied within one hour of the color coat. I would wait about 20min before starting the clear coat so the color has a chance to get sticky.
Again, starting at the back, focusing on edges, lay a light coat. You are not trying to cover the entire wheel yet.
On the second coat of clear you want to make sure those edges are totally covered, you should also move to the front and lay paint on all the edges there as well. The large areas on the back should now be close to or totally covered and the front should have a light overall coat as well.
Finish up any spots of clear on the back that you may have missed and then move to the front. You should have covered the edges so focus on total coverage here…. Getting close now
This final coat of clear is like the final coat of color, nice and wet. Be careful here as it is easy to put too much clear in one spot and get a puddle. If you start getting spots that look white or milk’y you are probably too close and not moving the can enough. Remember that your after that nice wet look.
Spin the wheel a full 360*, inspecting as you go to ensure total coverage.
Let the wheels dry completely before remounting. Paint will be dry enough in about 4 to 5 hours if you are in a warm, dry environment.
When installing the wheels back on your car the wheel lugs should torque to 100 FtLb. as per the service manual.
Congratulations, you have just painted your wheels like a pro. Now let them dry, reinstall, and then go as it again on the rear wheels.
before and after
Mounted with painted center cap
all mounted up
If you would like to keep the factory center caps you can put a piece of tape over the logo. Cut out the outline with a sharp knife, then sand and paint in the same way you did the wheels.
Hope you enjoyed, good luck!
Disclaimer….. This guide is for information purposes only, I take no responsibility for the results of others actions.