April 22, 2008: Eng 202C at PSU Mark M. for James A.
So your wheels look horrible and you want to paint them?? Here’s how.
I started out by going to my not so friendly neighborhood Pep Boys, and picked up 2 cans of Silver and 1 can of clear
coat wheel paint by Dupli-Color. Clear coating is an option, if you want a flat color don’t use it. I wanted a somewhat
glossy finish so I followed up the color coats with some clear coat.
NOTE: I only painted the front surface of my wheels because I was keeping the color the same. If you want to change
the color of the wheels you are going to need more than 2 cans.
This is a very important step, wheel prep will determine how well the paint sticks to your wheels. I had a coating of tar on my wheels so I started out with some bug and tar remover and sprayed the wheels heavily with it. After scrubbing the tar off, we need to use a degreaser to get all of the remaining dirt and grime off the wheels, as well as the residue from the tar remover. I actually used degreasing dish soap and a brillo pad, dish soap is a pretty good degreaser. You could also use some other cleaners, such as simple green, but I felt soap would have a lower chance of leaving a residue.
After this I sanded the wheels down with 400 Grit sand paper, wetting both the wheel and sandpaper regularly. This keeps the dust down, and also stops the sandpaper from getting clogged up with dust. I still used a mask for sanding,
as I didn't want to run the risk of breathing in paint dust. I felt that Dupli-Colors recommendation of 320 grit sandpaper was too rough for the glossy finish I wanted, but sandpaper grit choice is really up to you. You could even start with 400 and work up to 1000 or 1500 for an ultra gloss finish.
Sanded down pic:
I used blue painters tape to mask off the immediate edge of my wheels. Doing one strip around the entire wheel is a pain, so I just used small strips of tape and made sure to get it close to the edge.
After this I taped newspaper around the rest of the tire.
I left the paint out in the sun for a while, so that it would spray more evenly with less splatter (not sure how well this works, just a hunch).
I cleared out two of the garage bays at my house and covered the floor in newspaper. I had the doors closed so that dirt would have less of a chance to blow into the garage and onto the paint. For ventilation I had the other two bays open and basically retreated there during the waiting period between coats. WEAR A MASK, this is very important. Nothing feels better than seeing the mask you were wearing covered in silver paint after your done.
Follow the instructions on the can for time between coats. I left about ten minutes between each coat. For spraying, I did the sides of the spokes and then the front surfaces. Coats should be sprayed lightly; nothing will ruin your day like a run in the paint. The number of coats depends really depends, silver on silver is going to require fewer coats than changing silver to black. After the color is done, move onto clear coating. I used 2 coats of clear, sprayed a little heavier than the color coats, which made it somewhat glossier (still be careful about runs in the paint).
I let the wheels sit for 4 hours before putting them back on the car (my only set of wheels), and they should be fully cured within a week or so. If I had two sets of wheels I would have let them cure the whole week. It has been a week now with no chipping so I guess that did not matter too much.
When putting the wheels back on wrap your tire iron in painters tape, so you don’t have any scratches in the new finish. Make sure to wrap the tape in the opposite direction you are going to be turning the wrench, so the tape doesn’t come unwound on you.
My center caps were cheap chromed plastic, and the chrome was pitting. I decided to spray them black to offset the silver somewhat. I sanded them with 400 grit sandpaper, and sprayed them with whatever black paint I could find at my house (which happened to be Rustoleum, don’t want that plastic to rust ya know). Krylon Fusion plastic spray paint would have been a better choice, but I didn't have any so oh well.
I am happy with the outcome. Each one of the wheels had curb rash thanks to the previous owner, and the scratches are definitely not noticeable anymore. You have to be within like a foot to see them. Since I don’t have another set of wheels for my I put the car up on blocks, doing two wheels at a time. This took around 6 hours on both Saturday and Sunday, doing two a day.
Full size pics here