Can You Spray Paint Rims? (How To Guide For All Types)

Having painted rims is becoming increasingly popular, especially with younger drivers. Spray paint can be a quick way to paint something, but it’s not always clear which surfaces you can use it on. The last thing you want to do is ruin your wheels with a dodgy paint job, so in this guide, we'll help explain whether you can spray paint rims and how to go about doing it properly.  

Spray paint uses air pressure to make painting easier. Liquid paint is stored within a metal, airtight canister with a nozzle on the top. When you press the nozzle, the pressure will change the paint from liquid to gas so that it comes out as an aerosol. The gas paint will then spray onto a surface, and as it lands, it will turn back into liquid, coating whatever it is you're painting.  

Spray paint is generally used for DIY projects or quickly painting large areas. It gives a more even coverage than traditional painting techniques and can really help improve the look of old furniture or metal building work. However, spray paint relies on the paint sticking onto the surface you're painting, and, unfortunately, it won't adhere to every surface, so you need to be sure it will land before you start.  

The good news is that spray paint is perfectly usable on wheel rims, and it's actually one of the best ways to paint them. It gives even coverage and only takes a few minutes to do it well. However, you need to be aware of which type of wheel rim you have because that can impact how you go about it: 

Can You Spray Paint Rims

Aluminum Rims 

Most spray paint will adhere to aluminum, so it's fine to use on these metal rims. However, we would recommend using a specific aluminum spray paint (like the Rust-Oleum Professional Aluminum Spray) for the best coverage.  

Chrome Rims 

Chrome can be a little more complicated, but you can definitely still use spray paint on them. Make sure you use a primer, and then apply a few coats of acrylic latex spray paint to get the full effect.  

Plastic Rims 

If you’re using a plastic rim, you might struggle with conventional spray paints. A standard spray paint won't adhere to the plastic and can result in patches or dripping paint. To counteract this, you’ll need to get a specialist plastic spray paint (the Krylon Fusion for Plastic works well) and go over it with a few coats. 

There is a bit more to think about when spray painting your rims, but it will give you better coverage and leave your car a much more striking look. Most people choose to paint their rims black to match the tires, and this works well, but you can also use other colors. We'd recommend going for something dark because it's easier to get a full and even coloring.  

You can spray paint your rims yourself without professional help, but that doesn’t mean you should run straight outside and do it. You need to consider what type of spray paint you need, what prep work is needed to get the best look, and how you can use the spray paint without it going everywhere. We’ll give you the full breakdown of how to spray paint your rims further on in this article, but make sure you take your rims off before you start work, or you could end up with paint all over your vehicle.  

Here’s How To Spray Paint Rims On A Car

Spray painting your car isn't too tricky, but you need to give it some thought and attention. If you don't, you could end up with dodgy-looking rims, or a damaged car. We’ve detailed the steps you should go through below, but before you get started, you’ll need to make sure you have spray paint, paint tape, protective gloves, a mask, and protective eye coverings.  

Remember that spray painting can be hazardous. To do it safely, you should always wear an eye cover, a mask, and protective gloves. Also, always spray paint in a well-ventilated area and avoid breathing in the fumes as much as possible. If you start to feel faint, stop immediately, and consult a medical professional.  

  • 1
    Choose Your Paint   
    This is probably the most important step in the process. You'll need to select a spray paint that will adhere to the wheel rim, and this can vary depending on the material you’re using. Well-known brands like Rust-Oleum, Krylon, and Hycote, all offer specialist spray paint for wheel rims, and it's usually best to choose one of these. If not, you should go for an acrylic spray paint because these give you the most protection from cracking or chipping. 
  • 2
    Remove The Wheels (if possible)  
    You should remove the wheels from your car before you carry out any paint work. This is a bit complicated, and you’ll need to find something to support your car while the wheels are off. Removing a wheel usually only involves taking out a few bolts, but if you're not sure, you should ask a local mechanic for some help. If you can’t remove the wheels, you’ll need to find a bin bag or something else to thread behind the rim and cover it so that paint doesn’t go all over it. You should also use some rags to cover the car chassis so that it doesn’t get painted.  
  • 3
    Wash The Rims  
    Use soap and water to clean your rims and remove all the grime. If there's any rust, you'll need a wire brush to file it down and sandpaper to smooth it out. The goal here is to give as flat and smooth a surface as possible so that the spray paint lands evenly. 
  • 4
    Apply Paint Tape  
    Use the paint tape around the edge of the rim and under the lip of the wheel. This will stop the paint from going all over the tire and keep it on the rim itself. Make sure this is all stuck down properly before moving on to the next step.  
  • 5
    Use A Primer  
    Primers are used to give you an even surface to apply paint to. Krylon and Rust-Oleum produce special primers for car wheels, and it's worth using one to coat the rim. This will help the spray paint stick and avoid any patches that could ruin your car's look.  
  • 6
    Paint  
    Hold the spray paint can about 8-12 inches away from the rim and press the nozzle to release it. Using short bursts, spray an even coverage over the rims. Go over the rim at least twice to make sure you’ve covered it all.  
  • 7
    Reattach The Wheels  
    If you’re happy with your work, then leave it to dry. This should only take 30-60 minutes, but every spray paint is slightly different, so it's worth reading the instructions. Once it's fully dry, remove the paint tape and reattach the wheels to your car.   
paint sprayer

Tips When Spray Painting Rims (+ Safety Measures) 

Spray painting isn’t inherently dangerous, but here are some tips to make sure you do it safely: 

  • Use Protective Equipment  
    Spray paint can be irritating to your skin and damage your eyes. You should invest in a pair of thick gloves and some goggles or eye protection so you don't hurt yourself while you're working.  
  • Choose The Right Location 
    You should always spray paint in a well-ventilated location because breathing in the fumes can be hazardous to your health. If possible, you should try to spray paint your rims outside rather than in your garage, but try to avoid public places because you don't want to get paint on public property.  
  • Don’t Spray Cold 
    Spray paint will land more evenly in hot weather, and if it's too cold, it isn't going to stick. Try to avoid spray painting your rims in winter and pick a hot, dry day.  
  • Don’t Drive Straight Away 
    You should avoid driving for 1-2 hours after painting, or it might end up running or streaking. Wait until it's fully dry before driving to help make the spray paint last.  
rim tire wheel

Frequently Asked Spray Painting Rim Questions 

Does rim spray paint last?  

Spray paint sticks to rims much more effectively than other types of paint, and you should expect it to last 3-5 years before it starts to peel or crack.  


How much does spray painting rims cost?  

Paying a professional to spray paint your rims will cost about $100 for one wheel, or $300-$400 for all four. If you do the job yourself, you’ll only need to pay for the materials. This typically means it will only cost $40-60 for the paint and primer.   


How long does it take to spray paint rims? 

You can usually get the whole job done in a few hours, including cleaning and prepping the rims. You will need to leave the paint for about 30 minutes to dry and wait 2-3 hours before driving.  


How long after I spray paint my rims can I drive my car?  

Spray paint will usually dry very quickly and will be dry to the touch in about half an hour. However, we would recommend waiting 2-3 hours before you drive your car just to make sure it’s completely dry.  


Conclusion

Painting your rims is a great way to refresh the look of your vehicle, and spray paint is one of the best ways to do it. It’s cheap and effective, but make sure you take the time to prep your rims so you get an even coat of paint. Hopefully, this guide has helped answer your questions, and you now have a better idea of how to spray paint your rims properly.  


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