Whether you’re looking for a change or looking to cover up, the color of your wheels make a drastic effect on the appearance of your car.

Many automotive shops offer professional auto painting services, but changing the color of your wheels can easily be done at home. This is a true DIY project that can be done by anyone with just a little effort and some materials.

You can change the color of your rims in a number of ways from permanent to temporary. All methods are viable options depending on your needs and your level of commitment.

The existing finish of your wheels and any damage will dictate whether extensive preparation is required. Things like curb rash need to be attended to before changing the color so if your wheels have any damage check out how to deal with it here.

Just know, all of these methods will change the appearance of your wheels but each one a little differently. So let’s break down each method by difficulty, durability, and cost for you to decide.

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Permanent Color Change

Permanent color changes to your wheels require a little more effort because the methods have multiple stages of both prep and application. The benefit is if you do it right you only have to do it once.

Paint

Paint is the most popular choice when it comes to changing the color of your wheels. It comes in an infinite amount of colors from mild to wild, and the cost is reasonably affordable. When done correctly painted wheels can last a very long time and have a superior finish.

Materials

Safety is a priority so please take the appropriate precautions. Before starting any project that involves chemicals or dust it is recommended to wear a respirator with the appropriate filters and eye protection.

Method

All of the methods mentioned in this article will require you to remove your wheel from the car unless stated. Take your time removing the wheels to avoid stripping a lug nut, but in case you do, find out how to remove it here.

  1. Use a Wheel brush to remove large debris and accumulated dirt.
  2. Clean your rim thoroughly with a quality wheel cleaner like this gel one from the chemical guys that clings to dirt, grime, and brake dust. Wash off with water and then wipe dry.
  3. Sand all areas to be painted with 400 grit sandpaper to allow for proper adhesion of primer.
  4. Use a paint preparation cleaner to remove any residues that may remain. You don’t want any contaminants to ruin the final finish.
  5. Cover the areas you don’t want to paint with plastic or paper wrap.
  6. Apply three coats of High Build primer and let it dry for up to three hours. Make sure to use a high build primer because it has specific additives that level uneven surfaces. Make sure to dry it away from the sun.
  7. Apply at least three coats of the paint color of your choice with 15 minutes drying time between coats. Let it sit four to six hours in warm weather or overnight in the colder season. Never dry the paint under direct sunlight, it will cause bubbling and uneven drying.
  8. Once the color coat is dry you can add the clear coat. Use at least two coats of clear, although the more coats you add the more durable the finish. Allow 10 minutes drying between coats, and allow final coat to dry overnight. Again no direct sunlight.
  9. Remove the plastic and paper wraps.

DIY Difficulty level 3/5

This method’s difficulty level is intermediate, it’s not overly complicated but requires some technique and a bit of material spend.

Durability

If the paint was applied accordingly and properly dried with ample coverage, it can last indefinitely.

Cost

Painting your wheels by yourself can cost you approximately $10 to $100 per wheel depending on your paint choice and equipment.

Powder Coat

Powdercoating is a finish that involves spraying on an epoxy resin in powder form through an electrostatic process and then baking in an oven. For a detailed explanation of how powder coating works check out powercoating.org.

Powder Coat comes in many different colors, although not as much as paint, but has superior durability. The materials and equipment make this expensive if you don’t have access to them but there are some tips you can use if you’re trying to do this at home affordably.

Materials

Equipment

  • Sandblaster- Go to local metal yards and ask them to sand blast your wheels shouldn’t cost more than $100.
  • Powder coating gun
  • Powder coating oven- Look for used single door electric home range ovens on craigslist or facebook marketplace. These should be able to fit up to a 20″ wheel and can be had cheap.

Method

You will need to strip the wheel down completely to do this. No tire, no valve stem, no tpms. If your wheel has any plastic inserts the wheel needs to be removed too.

  1. Wash your wheels thoroughly with a wheel cleaner and wipe dry.
  2. Sandblast the wheels to completely bare metal. The powder coat won’t stick to anything that is that isn’t bare metal so this is essential.
  3. Hang your wheel/s from a place that can support the weight and allows you to reach all surfaces and attach the ground wire for the powder coat gun.
  4. Preheat the powder coating oven to 400F.
  5. Fill up your powder coating gun with the powder.
  6. Spray the wheel/s, the powder should cling to the wheel because of the electrostatic process.
  7. Place the rim in the preheated oven and cure for 15-20 minutes depending on the powder’s labeled instructions.
  8. Let the rim rest for at least two hours.

DIY Difficulty level 5/5

Powder coating requires maximum effort and specialized equipment so its difficulty level is hard, this stuff is best left to the pros.

Durability

Powder coating creates a thick hard surface that is resistant to chips, cracks, UV, and weather. It is arguably the most durable finish for wheels.

Cost

DIY powder coating can be done less expensively if you can get the major equipment used. Honestly, though it still is pretty expensive compared to the other methods with a similar result. If you like a challenge and are considering powder coating other items in the future then the cost could be considered an investment. Powder coating can range for as little as $75 per wheel and goes up from there.

Temporary Color Change

Temporary wheel color changes are great for someone who wants low effort for maximum results. If your looking for a quick way to improve your vehicle’s looks for not a lot of money these methods are the choice for you.

Sprayable Rubber Coating (PlastiDip)

The sprayable rubber coating products are by far the easiest way to change the color of your rims. There is minimal prep and involves no sanding or removing of your existing finish. A set of 4 wheels can be completed in just a few hours and the color choice is expanding.

Rubber spray coatings are great for testing colors, or if you’re someone who likes changing things up often.

Materials

Method

Removing the wheel is optional.

  1. Use a Wheel brush to remove large debris and accumulated dirt.
  2. Clean your rim thoroughly with a quality wheel cleaner like this gel one from the chemical guys that clings to dirt, grime, and brake dust. Wash off with water and then wipe dry.
  3. Use paint prep to make sure no residue remains.
  4. If you remove the wheel, use plastic wrap to mask off the tire and prevent any overspray. If you leave the wheel on the car, use additional plastic wrap to cover the brake calipers and rotors behind the wheel.
  5. Spray the rubberized coating onto the rims. Apply four to five even coats. Let each coat dry about 10 minutes before applying the next coat. Wheels should be completely dry after four hours.

DIY Difficulty level 1/5

The rubberized plastic coating is very easy to apply even for a novice. Very little prep and not much is required in terms of equipment either. Pretty much point and shoot.

Durability

Rubberized rims can last for up to three years if applied properly.

Cost

Rubberized spray coating your wheels can cost anywhere from $50-100 for all 4 wheels so it’s quite affordable.

Vinyl Wrap

Materials

Method

  1. Use a Wheel brush to remove large debris and accumulated dirt.
  2. Clean your rim thoroughly with a quality wheel cleaner like this gel one from the chemical guys that clings to dirt, grime, and brake dust. Wash off with water and then wipe dry.
  3. Use paint prep to make sure no residue remains.
  4. Peel off the backing from the vinyl wrap and place it on the rim starting with one edge.
  5. Use heat gun to make the vinyl pliable and to contour the shape of the wheel. Press the vinyl wrap from the center to the outward making sure that it has adhered firmly to the rim.
  6. Use the flat edge and heat gun to push the bubble out to the edges.
  7. Trim the excess wrapping with scissors or a cutter.

DIY Difficulty level 3/5

Vinyl wrap isn’t incredibly difficult but is harder than it looks. It requires some patience and finesse to get a quality outcome.

Durability

If installed properly, vinyl-wrapped rims can last about five to seven years.

Cost

Vinyl wrapping can cost $15 to $20 in total in some cases depending on the vinyl wrap. If you don’t have a heat gun and are planning to buy one. your cost can increase to $50.

In Sum

Oftentimes, we don’t realize how wheels can affect the car’s overall appearance. Undoubtedly they have the largest impact on the exterior of the car. Switching up the color is an easy upgrade that you can do at home now that you have the methods to do it. A great way to make a large impact on a small budget.

As an Amazon Associate We earn from qualifying purchases. Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc, or its affiliates.

We might receive commissions if you click on our links and sign up/make purchases. However, please know this does not impact our reviews and comparisons. We try to keep things fair and balanced to help you make the best choice for your needs. Thanks.

 
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