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Old 04-26-2007, 04:06 PM   #1
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DIY: Painting Wheels

Finally had a nice weekend last week, so I bucked up and embarked on this project. I have never painted wheels before, so it was a learning experience.

Supplies needed:
Bucket
Water
Soap
Fine steel wool (for metal polishing)
Sponge
Sandpaper
2 rolls 3M Blue Painters Tape
4 trash bags
2 carpenters heavy duty trash bags
1 can Duplicolor Premium Filler Primer
2 cans grey paint (custom made)
1/4" auto detailing tape
1 can pink paint (custom made)
Patience & time

1. First, I cleaned my wheels inside and out extremely well. I'm talking every nook and cranny. I knew I wasn't going to paint the barrel of the wheel itself, but I figured since I was gonna be elbow deep in water anyway, I might as well clean the whole thing. It's -amazing- to see what steel wool can do cleaning wise. These are my race wheels, and I've never done THIS thurough of a cleaning job before.

Time taken: 4 hours

This is how they looked prior to cleaning.





2. Next was the sanding. I let the wheels dry for a good 30 minutes or so (was all the time needed because it was a good 75 degrees out, and I had direct sunshine on them). You made need longer. Sanding is fairly quick, but don't chince out on it. Take your time so that you give your paint something adequate to stick to! Make sure to get all the nooks and crannies. The hardest part was where the spokes met the barrel, and around the valve stem. Thankfully I have tiny fingers and could get em in there with a little work.

Time taken: 45 minutes



3. Now, back to washing. Another good scrub, but this time you shouldn't need the steel wool. Just make sure your wheels are as clean as humanly possible so that you aren't painting over dirt.

Time taken: 30 minutes

4. On to masking! This was the step that took the most patience. I didn't want to get my race tires unmounted to do this, so I had to adequately protect my tires from the paint. I took small pieces of 3M blue painters tape and stuck it in between the edge of the wheel and the tire, and kept doing it until I went all the way around. There was probably about 75 pieces of tape that it took to do that adequately. Then I added a whole extra line of blue tape around the tire to hold down the first set of smaller pieces. Then, I cut up four trash bags and taped them, overlapping by at least 5 inches on each side, around the top side of the tire. Then, I turned the tire over and taped the other edge of the trash bags to the inside of the barrel, making as nice a line around the inside as I could. I knew some paint would go through, and so I figured if I made a nice solid line just at the underside of the spokes it would look a lot cleaner than just overspray splotches. Next, I taped off all the places where the bags overlapped and taped off the valve stems.

I knew this was going to be time consuming because of how picky I am, so this entire stage I did inside on my coffee table. Thank goodness I don't have a wife I watched 5 episodes of Battlestar Galactica in the meantime. Oh, btw, I went through a WHOLE roll of blue painters tape just in this stage alone.



Once I had all four done, I took em outside and put them on two cut open carpenters trash bags.



Time taken: 4 hours

5. Primer time! I bought Duplicolor Premium Filler Primer because my wheels had a few nicks and rashes. I figured the more I could fill them in the better....might as well, right? I started using EXTREMELY thin layers. Everyone I talked to who had done this before said to do lots of thin coats, else you'll get a run and you'll have to start all over again. After all the time I took to prep, I wasn't going to do this again. So, I did about 6 very very thin layers, with 10 minutes in between each layer. Looking back, I wish I had done more, but such is life. The 6 layers I did probably barely equated to one regular coat, but with how the grey of the primer matched so closely to the silver of the wheels to start with, I couldn't really tell how thuroughly I had covered everything. How this may affect me in the future... well, only time will tell.



Time taken: 1 hour & 15 minutes

6. Time to man up and put on the real paint. I waited 30 minutes for the primer to dry a little more, and then went to my color. It was a custom color I got done from a place here called Paint Masters. I got a whole book full of color swatches, and pointed to the color I wanted, which they then made up into two cans of spray paint for me. Each can cost 22.95. I again did very very thin layers to start, waiting 10 minutes in between coats. After about 15 coats I decided that I could definitely do a little more per layer and not be worried. So I started spraying on a little more (about 3 of my previous three layers) at a time. It took me about another 10-15 coats before I exhausted the last of my two cans. Ideally I would have liked to do maybe 2-3 more thin coats, but I was definitely happy at the end of the two cans.

Didn't get a picture of this stage...thought I did, but apparently it's not on my digital camera

Time taken: 5 hours

7. I left the wheels to dry outside overnight. The benefit of having done thin layers like I did was that they dried VERY fast. I probably didn't even have to wait 10 minutes between layers, but it gave me the benefit of any tree crap or grass that floated onto the top of the wheel was easily removable with tweezers and didn't leave any marks. This is why I wasn't worried about leaving them out... there was also no chance of rain, so I wasn't worried about that either.

8. The next day I was going to start masking off the lip of the wheel, and I was asking some people if they had any suggestions on how to do a very precise line easier than just time and patience. I knew I could do it, but knew it would just take a while. At this point, someone I knew offered to do the masking for me because he had painted wheels a lot. I wasn't going to pass that up, so I took them over to him and he taped em up for me. He said they were a pain and took him about an hour each.

Time taken (not mine): 4 hours

9. I picked the wheels back up and proceeded to do the lip in the same manner I had painted the center portion. Only difference was I didn't do such extremely thin layers, though they were definitely still thin. Proud to say I didn't receive a single drip or run on any section. Waited 10 minutes between coats, and applied about 10 coats each.

Time taken: 2 hours

Final product:



Once I have my car back from the shop, I'll put them on and get a picture of the whole thing (you have to remember that when I race, I have pink numbers, a pink helmet, I typically wear a pink shirt, etc... I'm known as the Pink Porsche Princess, heheh).

Total time: 17 hours and 30 minutes, not counting overnight drying time. This time could probably be cut a lot if you were not as picky as I am about masking off, and if you didn't have to clean your wheels very much.

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Old 04-26-2007, 04:22 PM   #2
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Nice work Cassandra, and a great write up. My sister just had her car worked over by a local mobile bumper repair crew prior to turning the car in due to an expired lease agreement. They charged her $700 for a couple of hours work. I can't imagine what the tab would have been had they painted your wheels...and I'm sure they wouldn't have taken the time to do the job as painstakingly as you did.
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Old 04-26-2007, 04:24 PM   #3
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Nice work! I like the result except for the err, ummm, pink part. A little too "Pepto" for me, but I understand you've got a theme going here. So what's your plan for the center caps?

And BTW, Jericho rocks. Have you noticed that cop, lawyer and doctor themes are finally starting to fade for something more unique?
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Old 04-26-2007, 05:19 PM   #4
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Sorry, seems over kill for race wheels. I think you could have done the job in less time and have it look very similar (if not the same). My only question/concern is... where is the clear? Did you not clear coat them or just leaving them matte finished? All that work and no shine...
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Old 04-26-2007, 06:23 PM   #5
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Wow good job, obviously as a guy I wouldn't choose the pink color for my car but I like the gray and I'm anxious to see how your car will look. Are you worried at all about the paint scratching off, being affected by the elements, etc and showing the original color through? I guess I'm wondering if this will require more touch up style maintenance.
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Old 04-26-2007, 08:19 PM   #6
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Instead of masking the tires with tape and garbage bags, it is possible to stick over sized index cards that are overlapped in between the rim and the tire. Then just lay a towel or rag over the rubber to protect from any overspray. Just don't remove them until the paint is dry.
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Old 04-26-2007, 08:22 PM   #7
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Sorry, should have mentioned that they will be clear coated, they just haven't been yet. Can't believe I forgot to say that, hehe.

And I understand about the pink... it's a girl thing

And why NOT do it for race wheels? If these were my daily driver wheels I would have taken them someplace to be blasted/done right. But they aren't. They aren't in perfect condition, and I wanted to do something fun. Who cares if they end up chipping or peeling? I'll either do some touch up work (and again, not really worry how picture perfect it comes out), or I'll just redo em all in another crazy paint scheme! So no, I'm not worried at all about scratches/chips/etc. I don't run on the wheels on that often, and when I do... well, I'd rather see scratches on these then on my daily driver ones.

And yes, I could have spent a lot less time doing it... like I said, I am very picky and honestly... I got a lot of crap about wanting to do this myself from some guys who thought I couldn't do it. Well screw them, I knew I could and this proved it, and if it took me 17+ hours, then so be it. I am extremely proud of the results and wouldn't take back a single hour in favor of saving time. I like having "projects" that I can take care of without asking for TOO much help, or without having someone do it for me.
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Old 04-26-2007, 08:28 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shaman1204
Instead of masking the tires with tape and garbage bags, it is possible to stick over sized index cards that are overlapped in between the rim and the tire. Then just lay a towel or rag over the rubber to protect from any overspray. Just don't remove them until the paint is dry.
I have heard of the index card method, but didn't like it because... well... the card is straight and the tire curves. And I wanted a way to protect the tires that was a little more "stable" then just some stuck in cards. This way I could leave them outside, not worrying about if they moved or came out, etc.

And I suppose the towel/rag would work, but might as well use disposable garbage bags for a lower cost!

Edit: And yes, I already watch Jericho... GREAT series.

Edit #2: And as for my center caps... I didn't know HOW to go about painting those while still having them look nice (they aren't colored). So I opted to just run my wheels without, that way I don't have to paint them. Weight reduction
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Old 04-26-2007, 08:36 PM   #9
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I have considered doing this for my winter wheels. Do you think that the filler primer would fill in the spaces where my clear coat has cracked off the rims? It's not a huge section, just a few square inch sections on like two wheels.
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Old 04-27-2007, 06:03 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shaman1204
I have considered doing this for my winter wheels. Do you think that the filler primer would fill in the spaces where my clear coat has cracked off the rims? It's not a huge section, just a few square inch sections on like two wheels.
Oh yeah, a couple coats of the primer should fill it in just fine based on what I've seen from this project.

Disclaimer: I make no guarantees about this though, and remember, this is my first time ever doing this!
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Old 04-27-2007, 08:53 AM   #11
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wow you did a good job, looks very nice, they would look so sweet if they were black or blue on the inside to match the car color.
you did a great job cleaning them.

btw, with index cards, when you stick them in between, they hold pretty damn good, they will definitely not move during the process, even under the pressure of air in the cans

i painted numerous sets of wheels, and the 1st time we did it we actually took off all the paint and clearcoat (will never do that in my life again, i think it took us 4 days of trying to get all that crap off with every kind of paint remover), and then we did some with blue tape like you did, worked great, but then just few moneths ago i did my sisters wheels in black on her eclipse, and used the oversized index cards (worked great, took about 2 minutes to line them all up) and protect the tires with a bag, and spray away.
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Old 04-27-2007, 09:47 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by djomlas
wow you did a good job, looks very nice, they would look so sweet if they were black or blue on the inside to match the car color.
you did a great job cleaning them.

btw, with index cards, when you stick them in between, they hold pretty damn good, they will definitely not move during the process, even under the pressure of air in the cans

i painted numerous sets of wheels, and the 1st time we did it we actually took off all the paint and clearcoat (will never do that in my life again, i think it took us 4 days of trying to get all that crap off with every kind of paint remover), and then we did some with blue tape like you did, worked great, but then just few moneths ago i did my sisters wheels in black on her eclipse, and used the oversized index cards (worked great, took about 2 minutes to line them all up) and protect the tires with a bag, and spray away.
Thanks djomlas! I have started to consider painting the barrel pink... but I didn't have enough paint to do it this time around. Maybe later in the summer if I get the itch to do some more work, haha.

Good to know about index cards, especially from someone who has actually done it before!
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Old 04-27-2007, 12:27 PM   #13
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trust me, i painted BRAND SPANKING NEW wheels and tires with index cards, so thats as 'dangerous' as it kinda gets.
they turned out great tho.
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Old 05-07-2007, 09:40 AM   #14
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very nicely done. the pink fits the "girl" theme.
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Old 11-13-2007, 10:21 AM   #15
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Cool styles needed

I bought used wheels for track days. They're pretty beat looking and I have been thinking about a fun, sporty paint scheme. I'm not sure I have come up with something that I am crazy about. If anyone has pics or a site to look at paint schemes on wheels, point me to them.

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