Simple wheel painting guide

Old 12-23-2008, 08:20 AM
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Year: 1995
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Default Simple wheel painting guide

So I did this mod a few months ago and decided to wait on doing any kind of writeup on it till I had a chance to test it's long term durability. It has held up great and has yet to chip or peel at all, my Jeep's paint has picked up plenty of new "brush pinstripes" since this mod but the wheels still look just as good as when I painted them. I noticed a few folks considering this on the forum so here goes...

Here is my Jeep before the wheel paint with it's ageing factory grey wheels...
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The first step is always to clean the wheels very well, using some kind of low residue cleaner, I used an aerosol paint prep cleaner, available at any auto parts store. And some clean rags...
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I then taped off the tires using your average masking/painters tape. The best method to make a good edge along the rim seems to be to use a bunch of small peices to follow the contour of the rim, then larger strips on the tire. I'm sure you could use some sort of paper to cover the tires if you wanted to save some tape.

Next, to remove the factory paint I used a aerosol "Heavy Duty Paint Stripper" I got from discount auto parts. It work incredibly well, the paint just bubbled up as soon as the stripper made contact with it...
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A closer picture of the paint after applying the stripper...
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After using the stripper I was able to just wipe off the old paint with an old rag or two, making sure to get as much as possible. Note that I used a nice thick glove too, as this stuff can burn your skin pretty badly if you get it on you. I would also take caution to keep it off of the tires and the tape as best you can, as it can eat through them as well...
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This is the rim after I finished removing all the paint and cleaning it up...


Next step is to begin sanding the wheel to provide the primer with a nice rough surface to bond to, and to get any of the paint that the stripper may have missed...
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Here it is with the sanding all done and ready for primer...
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Old 12-23-2008, 08:43 AM
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Next I applied the first coat of primer. I used Duplicolor's "Self Etching Primer" for this application...
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I then stood the wheels up as I realized my stupidity for trying to paint then laying flat, haha. I followed the directions on the can, giving the wheels three light coats of primer, allowing a 2-minute dry time between coats. Here they are after I was done applying the primer...
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The primer only called for a 30-minute dry time before applting the topcoat, but I decided to use that time to get started on the center caps. The first thing I did was clean them up with the same paint prep as for the wheels. Then I taped off the Jeep logo in the very center, trimming the excess with a razor blade...
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Next I applied the paint, as usual following the directions on the can. I used Duplicolor's "Chrome" paint for the center caps. It didn't really turn out chrome, but it gave it a nice metallic silver finish. Better than the factory grey color any day...
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The Chrome paint called for approximately three coats, allowing a 10-15 minute dry time between coats, and a one hour dry time before handling them...

By the time I had the center caps going it was about time to go ahead with the first topcoat on the wheels. I used Rustoleum's "Rust Tough" enamel paint in gloss black for my application, though there are a multitude of paints you could choose from for your individual tastes...
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The topcoat called for 3-5 light coats allowing 10-12 minutes between coats, and a 2 hour dry time before handling. I followed directions closely and they turned out rather well...
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I set up a commercial dehumidifier and a large fan set on it's lowest setting to aid in the drying process. the DH blows warm, dry air over the wheels using the slight air current provided by the fan. This isn't neccesary of course but I did this project in the shop at work. So in a room full of dehumidifiers and fans, why not use em?
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Here is the finished product, center caps and all, after the drying was all done. They turned out exactly as I expected!
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And here's the Jeep after I did the other set of wheels and installed them. It was too late for pictures the day I did it, so this is from the next day. A welcome asthetic improvement for the old dog...
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