Best Wheel Paints: Update Your Rims Without Spending A Lot Of Money

The best wheel paint to make your rims look good as new

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One way to boost your vehicle's appearance is to give the wheels a fresh coat of paint. It's a simple way to upgrade your ride. The best wheel paint can make a huge difference in your vehicle's look. However, with so many options, it can be challenging to choose the right product. Check our reviews for the best wheel paint to use on your car or truck.

  • Best Overall
    VHT Gloss Black Wheel Paint
    Summary
    Summary
    This polyurethane-based, high-heat wheel paint is designed for steel and aluminum wheels. It withstands temperatures up to 900 degrees and performs best when used with a primer and clear coat.
    Pros
    Pros
    It lays on smooth and thick, is easy to apply, and dries fast. It creates a nice, even coat and appears to have more pigment than regular spray paint.
    Cons
    Cons
    It may easily chip or flake off, and the color can seem dull and chalky. Doesn't produce a consistent glossy finish.
  • Best Value
    Rust-Oleum Automotive High Performance Wheel Spray Paint
    Summary
    Summary
    This paint is for aluminum or steel wheels and plastic hubcaps. It restores the wheels' original look, prevents corrosion and rust, and produces a smooth, weather-resistant finish.
    Pros
    Pros
    It goes on smoothly, provides excellent coverage, is easy to use, and levels out nicely. It dries fast, and the paint, combined with a clear coat, produces a deep, liquid shine.
    Cons
    Cons
    The paint may chip and flake off over time and may not be very durable. It may also produce a slightly rough texture regardless of how smooth the wheel surface is.
  • Honorable Mention
    Dupli-Color Black High Performance Wheel Paint
    Summary
    Summary
    This paint resists cracking, flaking, and peeling; repels brake dust and chemicals; and restores wheel to their original appearance. It dries within 30 minutes and allows handling within one hour.
    Pros
    Pros
    It's easy to use, coats evenly don't run, and dries quickly and smoothly. The paint sprays well out of the can, looks great, and holds up well.
    Cons
    Cons
    The paint dries soft and may take a while to cure. It may also splatter or sputter out of the nozzle. It may not provide an even or consistent color.

Benefits of Wheel Paint

  • Create a new look. If your car wheels are worn, chipped, or in bad shape, wheel paint will make them look fresh and brand new. It only takes a little bit of effort to make a big difference in appearance.
  • Protect your wheels. The best spray paint for rims can guard them against rough conditions such as high temperatures. Wheel paint can also protect your vehicle from road debris that causes rust, corrosion, chips, and minor blemishes. 
  • Use it on other automotive parts. In addition to wheels, the best paint for rims can be used on other parts of a vehicle, including plastic hubcaps. The paint has multiple purposes, making it a good product to have on hand in your garage.
  • Save money. One way to make your wheels look new without spending a lot of money is by using the best wheel paint. It's a significantly cheaper alternative to buying a new set of rims.

Types of Wheel Paint

Rattle Can 

Wheel paints are sold in rattle cans, AKA aerosol cans. The spray paint typically contains 4 ounces of actual paint, 2 to 3 ounces of solvent, and about 5 ounces of compressed air (propellant). When you press the nozzle with your fingertips, the propellant pushes on the paint, forcing it out of the tube and onto a surface area.

Top Brands

VHT, Dupli-Color & PlastiKote

VHT (Very High Temperature) is a division of Dupli-Color, the Sherwin-Williams brand. Valspar is also a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sherwin-Williams. Sherwin-Williams, based in Cleveland, Ohio, was founded in 1866 and has been a leader in paints and coatings for 150 years. Top products include the Dupli-Color Graphite High Performance Wheel Coating, VHT Gloss Black Wheel Paint, and PlastiKote 618 Steel Wheel Paint.

Rust-Oleum

Rust-Oleum, based in Vernon Hills, Ill., was founded in 1921 by sea captain Robert Fergusson, who wanted to keep his ship intact. He spent several years creating the world’s first rust preventative paint. One recommended product is the Rust-Oleum Automotive High Performance Wheel Spray Paint.

Wheel Paint Pricing

  • $5-$20: Wheel paint is very cost effective. The majority of brands cost less than $20 for an 11- or 12-ounce spray can.

Key Features

Color

This is the number-one factor when it comes to painting your wheels. The most popular color is silver, but you may also seek the best black wheel paint. Still, you may want to think outside the box and paint your wheels a bright color such as blue or red.

Finish

Once you decide what color you want to paint your wheels, you must select the type of finish you want: matte, satin, or high gloss. Matte has a flattering shine, the gloss has a high shine, and satin is in between the two.  The choice is a personal preference, but you should select one that goes well with your vehicle's paint job.

Other Considerations

  • Wheel Material: Determine what type of metal your wheel is made of before you select a paint. For example, you may require the best spray paint for alloy wheels which are made of light materials such as aluminum, nickel, magnesium, or a combination of all three. Conversely, you may require paint geared towards steel wheels.

Best Wheel Paint Reviews & Recommendations 2019

Best Wheel Paint Overall: VHT Gloss Black Wheel Paint

VHT Gloss Black Wheel Paint
Amazon

This high-heat wheel paint is polyurethane based and specifically designed for steel and aluminum wheels. It offers superior heat and chemical resistance and withstands temperatures up to 900 degrees when properly cured. It performs best when used with a primer and clear coat.

This paint lays on smooth and thick. The directions are clear, and it's easy to apply. The paint dries fast and creates an even coat as long as the primer is applied. After it dries, it looks professional and creates a shiny new look. The product also appears to have more pigment than regular spray and aerosol paint. A little goes a long way, and one can be enough to do more than one wheel, depending on the size.

One problem is the paint may easily chip or flake off even after sandblasting and priming the wheel. The color can also appear dull and chalky, meaning that it doesn't produce a consistent glossy finish. The product may also drip, but this is usually due to user error.

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Best Wheel Paint Value: Rust-Oleum Automotive High Performance Wheel Spray Paint

Rust-Oleum Automotive High Performance Wheel Spray Paint
Amazon

This paint is intended for wheels made of aluminum or steel. It can also be used on plastic hubcaps. It restores the wheels' original look, prevents corrosion and rust, and produces a smooth, weather-resistant finish.

The paint goes on smoothly and provides excellent coverage. It is easy to work with and levels out nicely, even with overspray. Wet coats over damp layers will dry hard if you allow an extra day or two for complete curing. In general, it dries exceptionally fast for handling. The steel paint combined with a clear coat produces a deep liquid shine. 

The rims may need to be touched up after driving in certain conditions because the paint may chip and flake off over time. The paint also produces a slightly rough texture, regardless of how smooth the surface underneath actually is. Finally, it may not be very durable.

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Best Wheel Paint Honorable Mention: Dupli-Color Black High Performance Wheel Paint

Dupli-Color Black High Performance Wheel Paint
Amazon

This paint produces a reflective finish that resists cracking, flaking, and peeling. It repels brake dust and chemicals and restores your wheel to its original appearance. The paint dries to the touch within 30 minutes and can be touched within one hour.

The paint is easy to use, coats evenly and doesn't run if you take time applying it. It also dries quickly and smoothly without streaking as long as you don't make the coats too thick. Overall, the paint looks great and holds up well. It covers cracks, doesn't chip, and can make a set of corroded wheels look like new again.

Depending on the surrounding conditions, the paint can take a long time to cure or dry soft to the touch. As a result, it may come off too easily if you scratch it with your nail. The paint may also splatter or sputter out of the nozzle, requiring you to cover everything you don't want to paint. In addition, it may not provide an even or consistent color.

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Tips

  • The best way to paint car rims is to remove the rims from your vehicle and clean the wheels, which includes removing paint chips and rust. If you leave the tires on, place index cards under the rim between the tire and rim to protect against overspray. Then spray the wheel with a back-and-forth motion.
  • Hold the can at least 12 to 14 inches away from the wheel, or else the paint may run or drip. Consider practicing on another surface first to get the right technique.
  • Supplies you will need for painting truck rims and other types of wheels include paint, primer, clear coat, rags, wheel cleaner, sandpaper, a wire brush, steel wool, rubbing alcohol, masking tape, and disposable gloves and masks.
  • Use good quality sandpaper. Preparing your wheel's surface prior to painting them is crucial. If you want smooth, even results, use coarse 350-grit sandpaper or lower.
  • Wear eye protection during application. Glasses aren't the best option when painting wheels. A pair of goggles will offer better protection against paint, which can be very harmful to your eyes.
  • Follow the product's directions. To avoid damaging your eyes, lungs, and skin, make sure to read the instructions carefully before starting the project. You’ll want to avoid getting the harsh chemicals on your body.
  • Pick the right time and place to do the paint job. If you are painting your wheels outside, check the weather first to make sure it's not too humid. High humidity can affect the wheel finish and may cause a longer drying time.
  • If you want a temporary look, consider using Plasti Dip. It comes in various colors as well as gloss black. It's easy to remove if you change your mind, and it won't stain your wheels.

FAQs

Q: What’s the best type of paint for my rims? 

A: If you want to know what kind of paint to use on car rims, it depends on what type of wheels you have. Some products are geared towards aluminum wheels, while another paint is better for black rims. Some brands work on all types of wheels.

Q: How do I paint wheels with a lot of crevices? 

A: It can be difficult to effectively paint wheels that have a lot of grooves and spaces. First, spray the paint on the small openings in the wheels and let it dry. Follow up by spraying the paint on the wheel's surface.

Q: Can I paint my wheels with the tires on? 

A: We recommend removing your tires to paint wheels; however, if you want to know how to spray paint rims with tires on, use a tire gel or silicone gloss. This will keep the paint from sticking to the tires. Another option is placing index cards or cardboard between the wheels and the tires to prevent overspray.

Q: What is the best spray paint for aluminum rims? 

A: Paint does not stick to aluminum unless the surface has been treated. It takes several steps to treat aluminum, including acid etching. You can paint polished aluminum wheels once you determine what type of surface treatment the wheels have undergone in the factory. Some brands of wheel paint are specifically formulated to work on aluminum wheels. 

Q: How many cans do I need to paint four wheels? 

A: It depends on the size of the wheels and how many coats you apply. Also, most manufacturers recommend using a primer and topcoat in addition to the paint. You may require between two and four cans of paint alone.

Q: When can I drive my car after I paint the wheels?

A: Even if the paint appears to be dry, it can still be soft and susceptible to nicks and scratches. It's important to let the product cure for a while before you drive your vehicle with fresh-painted wheels. Make sure to read the manufacturer's directions.

Final Thoughts

Our pick for the best wheel paint is the VHT Gloss Black Wheel Paint. It has superior heat protection, lays on smooth and thick, and is easy to apply. It also dries quickly, creates a professional look, and a little bit goes a long way.

For a less expensive option, consider the Rust-Oleum Automotive High Performance Wheel Spray Paint.