Best Caliper Paints: Show Off Your Stopping Power
Add some character to your wheels with our top picks for best caliper paint
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There are many upgrades you can buy for your car to personalize it. Painting your brake calipers is one of them. In fact, many high-end automotive manufacturers distinguish themselves with painted brake calipers. If you want to achieve a similar look with your own car, check out our buying guide for the best caliper paint.
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Benefits of Caliper Paint
- Affordable upgrade. Typically, most upgrades to your vehicle can cost hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. Caliper paint is quite cheap. You can still achieve a personalized look without having to break into your piggy bank.
- A personal touch. Expressing your style with caliper paint is easy. There are a wide variety of colors to choose from and designs to display. In fact, you can even paint each caliper a different color. The calipers can accent your wheels and truly make your paint job pop. The possibilities are endless.
- Little mechanical knowledge required. Beyond knowing how to remove your wheels and tires, all it takes to paint your calipers is a bit of tape, plastic, and time. Even if you do need to remove the calipers to cover the entire surface, you can easily reinstall them later.
- Temporary change. One of the best features of caliper paint is that you can easily paint over it if you change your mind about the color. All you have to do is buy another can or two to achieve the new look.
Types of Caliper Paint
Typically, aerosolized spray cans of caliper paint are enamel-based. They come in 11- or 12-ounce cans and can be of any finish. Whether you want metallic, matte, gloss, or any other types of finishes, there’s quite a variety to choose from. Most aerosol caliper paints require a few coats for a finished look so application time is longer. Unless specified, aerosol caliper paints aren’t necessarily designed for high-heat environments.
To use a dipping can for your brake calipers, you will need to remove them from the vehicle. This is not something you have to do with brush-on kits, vinyl film, or aerosol cans of caliper paint. However, using a dipping can can increase the uniformity of the caliper paint, and you’ll likely only need one coat.
While epoxy caliper paints are more chemically volatile than other types of caliper paint, you do get more in terms of durability. Though the application process requires safety measures to protect your skin from the caustic chemicals in epoxy caliper paints, the finish is long lasting and more durable than other types. Brush-on kits typically use epoxy-based caliper paints to encourage the pigment to adhere to the surface of the caliper.
Armed with a heat gun and razor blade, you can easily apply vinyl film to your brake calipers to get a complete and uniform look. These kits come with sheets of vinyl that meld to your brake caliper via heat. Simply trim the edges to remove excess film as you shape the film onto the caliper. Applying vinyl caliper paint film can be harder if you aren’t experienced with a heat gun, but it also requires much less drying time.
Part of the Sherwin Williams family, Dupli-Color shares in the paint brand’s proud heritage. The Dupli-Color branch was founded in 1938 and is headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio. If you like what Dupli-Color has to offer, check out its Ceramic Torque ‘N’ Teal Engine Paint. It’s a great way to spiff up any engine bay.
Founded in 1921, Rust-Oleum has been creating solutions for vehicles both land- and sea-bound. Calling Vernon Hills, Ill., home, Rust-Oleum’s product lineup includes a number of innovative solutions, from Specialty Rust Preventative Caliper Paint to Chevrolet-specific Orange Engine Enamel.
Headquartered in New York, POR-15 has been in the industry since 1977. Designed specifically for your rust-covered surfaces, POR-15’s products help prevent rust from spreading as much as they improve the overall look of your vehicle. Its High Temperature Heat Resistant Paint is just one example of what they offer.
With over 10 years in the industry, VHT (or Very High Temperature) creates, you guessed it, high-temp paint for all your automotive needs. Also part of the Sherwin Williams family, VHT is headquartered in Ohio. Check out its Gold Brake Caliper Paint if you’re looking to add some bling to your ride.
Based out of Pennsylvania, Eastwood has been serving its customers for over 40 years. The company offers a variety of products for your every automotive need, so check out its wide selection. You may even find products like the Eastwood Long Lasting Heat Resistant Caliper Paint.
Caliper Paint Pricing
- $5-$20: For less than the price of an oil change, you can purchase aerosolized and dipping cans of caliper paint. Most aerosol cans are 11-12 ounces, no matter the type of finish. Dipping cans in this price range are typically 8 ounces.
- $20-$50: If you prefer dipping cans, there are rust-preventative coatings available at this price point. Most brush-on kits can be found in this price range as well. You can also purchase vinyl film for around $25-$50.
- $50 and up: Any paint available over $50 is typically going to be high temperature or a name brand. Some brush-on kits are priced around $60-$65, but you won’t necessarily be paying for higher quality.
While you may not realize it, your brake calipers heat up very quickly. In fact, they can reach incredibly high temperatures within just a few minutes, regardless if you’re driving in the dead of winter or the heat of summer. High-temperature paint is crucial to use because, without that factor, the paint you applied could flake off and even melt within seconds.
The best caliper paint should be long-lasting and durable. Whether you choose an easy application method or spend an entire weekend on painting your calipers, it’s probably not something you want to be doing as often as you change your car’s oil. Save yourself some time and money by choosing caliper paint that will last for a few years.
Along with durability, the best caliper paint should be easy to apply. That means if you’re using a dipping can, the paint should adhere within a few dips. Aerosol cans should direct the pigment, and brush-on kits should include precision brushes that allow for detailed application. While some processes may require you to take the caliper off the vehicle, they shouldn’t require any other form of disassembly.
No one wants to wait hours and hours for the paint to dry. The best brake caliper paints should dry within an hour or two at the most. Most aerosol cans need a few minutes between coats in order to form a solid layer, which can also be true of brush-on paints.
Along with drying quickly, the best caliper paints should apply well with only two or three coats at the most. You’ll likely have to apply at least two coats in order to establish a base layer and then ensure coverage, but any extra layers beyond that shouldn’t be necessary. This is especially true for brush-on and dipping cans of caliper paint where the paint itself is likely more concentrated.
- Paint Type:Besides the various types of caliper paint and delivery methods we described above, there are also different types of paint bases, such as enamel and epoxy. There’s also vinyl film. Enamel paints can be high temperature, but typically epoxy paints withstand heat better. Vinyl films may not perform as well, depending on what temperature they’re rated for.
- Quantity:It’s a good rule of thumb to purchase at least two cans of aerosolized caliper paint. If your calipers are much larger than your fist, you’ll likely need more paint than that. Racing calipers can have anywhere from four to eight pistons, so the higher the piston count, the more paint you’ll likely need.
Best Caliper Paint Reviews & Recommendations 2020
- When using aerosolized caliper paint, make sure to work in a well-ventilated area. Even dipping cans and brush-on kits can be harmful if inhaled for too long. You should also use gloves as you paint to avoid transferring any pigment and harmful chemicals on to your skin.
- One alternative to commercial caliper paint is powder coating. While the process takes much longer and can be expensive, powder coating is more durable. If you want to powder coat your existing calipers, you’ll need to remove any brake fluid, grease, and rubber seals—basically everything but the metal calipers themselves. You can also purchase brand-new calipers to install as well.
- Most of the colors available for caliper paint will appear as they look on the cap or label. However, you may want to try out the color on a scrap piece of metal. To get the most out of this method, tape off three sections of a scrap metal piece and spray one, then two, and then three coats.
- If you’ve never applied caliper paint, try using aerosolized paint first. It’s the easiest to apply and doesn’t require you to remove the caliper from the vehicle. Alternatively, you can also try brush-on kits for the same reason.
- The best time to paint your calipers is when you’re replacing the brakes; that is, if you’re a DIYer or garage mechanic and have the ability. You can easily remove the calipers when you replace the pads and rotors. As long as you can keep your car off the road for a day, the whole process shouldn’t take too long.
- Painting your brake calipers can be a great way to spiff up the exterior of your car. If you’re selling your vehicle and want to make a quick upgrade without spending a lot of money, caliper paint can be a great option. It gives the exterior of your car a lift and doesn’t take much time at all.
- Make sure to clean the brake caliper thoroughly before you apply any paint. This may require the use of a wire brush or scrubbing pad to loosen stuck-on debris. The cleaner you can make the brake caliper, the easier it will be for the paint to adhere in a uniform layer.
- When painting your brake calipers, make sure to tape off anything you want to preserve. You can use masking tape or painter’s tape, along with some plastic or large sheets of packing paper. Any decals you want to keep intact should be taped off as well.
Q: Do I need to buy a clear caliper paint to apply for added durability?
A: Most available caliper paints will include some form of clear coat in the formula. Spray paints may benefit from clear coat spray since they are more prone to chipping than other types. However, you can also substitute applying a clear coat with adding another layer of paint.
Q: How many calipers can I paint with one aerosol can, dipping can, brush-on kit, etc.?
A: The answer really depends on how much paint you purchase and in what form. Most manufacturers will tell you what amount of coverage you can expect from their products. Caliper paint kits will typically include enough paint to cover four calipers.
Q: If I own a larger vehicle, do I need more caliper paint than sedans?
A: Large vehicles tend to have bigger brakes because there’s more weight to stop, but performance vehicles can have larger brakes as well. Owning a larger vehicle doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll need more caliper paint.
Q: Does caliper paintwork on other parts of my vehicle?
A: Caliper paint can work on some other parts of your brake system. However, you should always check to see what brake parts the manufacturer lists before painting any other components besides the calipers. Some paints may not be suitable for anything but the brake calipers.
Q: What can I use to clean the brake caliper before I paint it?
A: There are a number of products out there that you can use to clean your brake components. To remove brake dust and grime, pick up a brake cleaner similar to what you’d use if you were replacing your brakes.
Q: Do I need to use a primer before painting my calipers?
A: Priming your calipers isn’t necessary as long as you clean them before applying paint. Most paints are self-leveling, and even if you choose a brake caliper paint kit that you brush on the paint should settle into the cracks and crevices.
Q: How do I remove old caliper paint?
A: It really depends on what your old caliper paint was made from, but typically caliper cleaner can remove most of the top surface contaminants. You can then work from there to get down to bare metal with sandpaper or even abrasive sponges used for deep cleaning.
Q: Do I need to remove my brake lines, brake pads, and entire brake system before painting my calipers?
A: Yes and no. There are certain types of caliper paint that require you to remove the calipers from your vehicle, but there are just as many methods that don’t require disassembly.
Our top pick for best caliper paint is the Dupli-Color Black Brake Caliper Aerosol. It’s an easy solution to adding a splash of flair to your brakes.
Choose the Rust-Oleum 12-Ounce Red Caliper Paint Spray if you’re working on a budget but still want to add personality to your ride.