How To: Wheel / Rim Painting (Very Detailed)
Warning: Neither Focus Fanatics nor its Members may be held responsible for the outcome of performing such a modification to ones car(Ford Focus). Such acts are performed at ones own risk, and sole responsibility must be assumed. This may include, but not limited to, the voiding of Ford vehicles factory warranty.
Always put safety first; using jackstands, eye protection, and all other required safety measures. It is also recommended to have supervision whenever possible.
1. 600 grit wet or dry sandpaper
2. 1000 grit wet or dry sandpaper
3. Dish soap
4. Prep cleaning product
5. New or very clean rags
6. 2-3 cans of self etching primer
7. 4-5 cans of wheel paint
8. 1-2 cans of clear coat (if desired)
So you decided you want to paint your wheels, but you aren’t sure how to go about it? Or have you done the job before but weren’t happy with the results? This how-to is your one stop guide to painting wheels…..though in this case, it is specific to a particular look and product, but the same principals will apply to any wheel painting project you want to do.
This how-to specifically shows how to apply Duplicolor’s hwp104 satin black wheel paint.
Not interested in a satin finish? Just ask here or PM me and I will gladly help you with any look you want to achieve.
The wheels and center caps being painted are the stock 5 spoke wheels from a 2003 Ford SVT Focus:
The first step, not pictured here, was having a tire shop remove the tires, weights and valve stems from the wheels. The next step was to pop out the center caps from the inside part of the wheels. It should be mentioned here that while this project was underway, the 2003 Ford SVT Focus was temporarily sporting 16” factory 5 spoke 2005 Focus SES wheels and tires:
The first step was to wash the wheels in a strong solution of dish soap and water. Once that was done, the next step was to thin the same water used to wash the wheels with more water and use it for wet sanding.
The next step was to scuff the existing surface with 600 grit wet or dry sand paper. It is recommended to wet sand for scuffing with paper, as the soapy water lubricates the surface and prevents the paper from getting gummed up with the paint you are sanding:
At times, it is helpful to wipe an area you have been sanding with a damp cloth (wet it in the same soapy water you are using) to check your progress:
The idea here is not to sand until you hit bare metal. Your goal is to scuff the old factory paint until it is no longer reflective and shiny, and has a dull flat appearance. This picture shows the contrast between a sanded wheel and unsanded; the sanded on the left, unsanded on the right.
This is what the wheels will look like when you are done:
If you want to paint your factory center caps as well, you will have to wet sand them with the 600 grit as well:
Once you have finished sanding (inside and out) you will need to mix up another batch of dish soap and water, very strong. Use this to clean anything you have sanded. In fact, wash them twice. After, let them dry someplace for a few hours until they are completely dry:
This is what a cleaned wheel looks like in direct sunlight after being sanded:
Here is what you will need for prep, priming and painting; a quality cleaner such as Prep-all or tec900 cleaner, primer that will “bite” into the existing factory paint, such as Duplicolor’s Self-etching primer, and of course your wheel paint, in this case, Duplicolor HWP-104 Satin Black:
It is recommended you begin the painting process on the back side of the wheel. The first step is to clean the inside of the wheel with your prep cleaner, in this case Prep-all cleaner. To begin, play it safe and clean everything at least twice. Get used to it; you should be cleaning before each coat of primer and paint. Be sure to use a soft lint free cloth that is either new or is very clean:
Next, its time to start primering. As directed, after shaking the can for 2 minutes once the agitation ball is free, use a gentle sweeping motion back and forth. For your first coat, you want to go very light. Subsequent coats can be heavier, but never heavy, as this can lead to runs, sags and bubbles, also known as fisheyes.
This is a good time to go ahead and prime your center caps as well. The self etching primer is also good for adhesion to plastic.
When you are done between coats, you should clean the nozzle of your can by inverting the can and spraying until clear gas comes out:
Once you have completed the primer phase of the backsides of the wheels, you can begin the front. Again, the first step is a double clean with the prep product:
Again, your first coat of primer should be very light. Subsequent layers can be heavier, but never heavy.
This is after two coats of primer, allowing 10 minutes of dry time between coats, but not more than one hour:
Prior to applying the first coat of paint. Gently go over the rough areas with a 1000 grit paper and clean the wheels twice with your prep product. As directed, after shaking the can for 2 minutes once the agitation ball is free, use a gentle sweeping motion back and forth.
Begin painting the back part of the wheels, it is recommended to start with the difficult areas such as spokes first. As with primer, your first coat must be light, subsequent quotes can be heavier, but never heavy.
This is a picture of the finishing touches of the first coat. For this project, three coats were used for the back side of the wheels. Of course, clean between each coat with the prep product.
Once you have finished painting the back sides of the wheels, you can begin the front side. You may wish to remove any overspray from the backside. Using 1000 grit sandpaper. Again, clean the surface twice with your prep product.
This is a very light first coat; you can go slightly heavier than this but not much more.
The recoat window between coats for this product is within one hour or after 48 hours. To fill in some time between coats, you can paint your center caps. Of course, lightly sand with 1000 grit, and then clean them twice with the prep product.
This is the center caps after a light first coat, just like with the wheels.
In this picture, one of the wheels is being sanded down between coats. This was done to smooth a few imperfections. If you run into any issues with your own project, such as imperfections or contamination sometimes you can make adjustments mid project with light sanding instead of stripping the wheel down and starting over. Let the paint dry for less than 1 hour so you can re-coat with the re-coat window, but allow the paint to harden before sanding. A good time frame would be 40-50 minutes, depending on temperature and humidity.
After you have fixed any imperfections, you can do your finishing coats, keep in mind, you have to clean the surface between each coat. It is not uncommon for the final coat to be the heaviest, which will allow the paint to “gel” together, and create a more consistent finish.
This is what the finished wheel looks like
This is the wheel with the tire installed. You may notice that the weights are they type that are glued to the inside of the wheel. Using the traditional hammered on style weights attached the lip will destroy your paint work and not look as attractive.
And finally, here is the finished wheel and tire installed on the car:
Special thanks to Duplicolor! Duplicolor sent me 4 cans of the new HWP-104 paint for free before it is available for sale to the public!
And please, don't call Duplicolor and harrass them, that is a special deal I worked out with them.
Also, Duplicolor used to sell another product by the HWP-104 part number, that was FLAT BLACK wheel paint, and has been discontinued.
You may find some kicking around on your local parts store shelf, beware, as of 7/26/08, the new HWP-104 Satin Black is still not on sale, but they still offer the rest of thier wheel paint lineup.
Notes: In many of the pictures, you may notice that it is either late at night or early morning. Obviously, this wasn't desireable, but it was needed. This project was done in mid july in Chandler AZ, where mid-day temps meet and exceed 110 degrees F daily. Optimum painting conditions call for temps below 90 degrees F, and low humidity. Here in the desert, humidity wasn't an issue, but heat was. The only viable solution was to paint at night. The reason wh you don't want to paint in temps above 90 degrees F is that you run the risk of solvent entrapment, which is a condition that causes bubbles, or fisheyes. Always follow manufacturer's instructions when using any paint, don't be afriad to call tech support.
Also, you can see in several pictures that I am wearing blue nitril gloves. There are three reasons why I am wearing them:
1. unlike latex, Nitril will not break down when exposed to prep cleaner or thinner in oil based paints
2. to help prevent the possibilty of my skin oils contaminating the surface, I know I clean a lot first, as you should, but I like to play it safe
3. I wanted to keep my hands cleen of course.
Keywords: wheel Painting, rim Painting, painting, wheel painting how to, wheel painting how-to, Ford Focus wheel painting, wheel restoration, wheel painting guide, wheel painting instructions, painting Ford Focus wheels, Ford Focus Wheels Painting
awesome write up we have been needing this
very good stuff. i've been thinking of doing this to my winter wheels
Shamrock is the man. I wasn't exactly sure how to paint my rims before since other how to's were lacking, but I just got done and my wheels are amazing. I did do some things different as I left my tires on.
Since my tires are balanced and all that with the glued on weights, I had to take those off but still have to put em back on. Took them off similar to removing emblems but before I marked where to put them back at (plan on using double sided tape).
DF in this case stands for Drivers Front...I have directional tires on so this made it easy for me. And the line on the tape is for matching up where they go (the weights)
To keep overspray from hitting the tire, I used index cards. I used ~150 3"x5" vertically and about 100 horizontally.
Other then that I did everything as posted above. CLEAN TWICE. and the end result...
Pics on the car tomorrow....
Glad you found my How-To helpfull!
I have seen in the past that many people paint wheels with the tires still on. It looks like you approached it the right way. For me, there was no question about taking the tires off, but I also know the cost off dismounting then remounting and balancing could deter some. I'm honestly not sure how to re-attatch the weights, let us know how the tape worked out, and if they stayed balanced after you were done.
Also, please post some pics of the finished wheels mounted on the car!
btw, if you get paint on your tires, a bit of graphite remover will take it off nice without wrecking the tire.
I just want to say before these wheels, my past painting projects have been less then stellar (and all on my car [thumbd]). Just need to remove some of the overspray that still occurred...
overall, they are pretty good [thumb]
and i need a drop
edit: wetsanding with 1500 grit sandpaper on the tires works well...
Added to the 'HOW TO ARCHIVE'........
I can't see the pics from the original post. :( is it just me?
I can see the others.
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