I had the help of Hunter this past weekend and we painted my wheels and rear diffuser black using PPG DP-90 black epoxy primer. It’s a flat black and doesn’t take very long to dry and will set very quickly if left in the sun or has some heat applied to it. It was getting chilly outside (t-shirt in the day, jacket in the evening) so they probably took a little longer to dry completely than they would have had I done it during the middle of the summer. They didn’t get scratched up when I put them on and have fully dried since. This stuff is tough, too. Maybe slightly less tough than powdercoating them, but it’s much cheaper and if you’ve got a paint gun and air compressor like we did, it’s easy to do. Hunter has used it on his truck and has painted his wheels with it as well. It’s held up to his off-roading which is way more than my car will see.
We mixed 1 part catalyst to 2 parts DP90.
On a damp and non-windy day, you really don’t even need a sterile paint shop. We made sure to hose down the driveway when we laid the wheels down to paint them so there would be no dust and so the drop cloth would stick down better and not flip up if a gust of wind came by.
The painting was easy.. the prep-work was the not-so-fun part. This is what we did to prep them:
- Wash the wheels. You don’t want any brake dust or grease on the wheels. The paint will fish-eye and won’t stick properly.
- Wet-sand the wheels. We used 20 grit pieces of sandpaper, folded them, and kept the wheels wet while we sanded them. You want to make sure to get every single crevice of the wheels. It’s not necessary that you sand the paint off that’s already on there – but make sure you sand all the shine off of them so that the DP has something to stick to.
- Wash them again. You’ll have dust on the rims more than likely after sanding them even if you kept the hose nearby and kept the sandpaper wet.
- Wipe them down with a clean towel and some degreaser. We had a big can and made sure to wipe them down with the degreaser to get rid of any traces of grease or brake grime that may have survived the two washings and the sanding.
- Wipe the tires down with something like acetone. This will ensure you don’t have any “tire shine” on the tires and that the painters tape will be able to stick along the edge of the tire where it meets the wheel. We laid a big drop cloth over the four wheels and cut holes around the center of the tire and taped it down and got the tape as close to the edge as possible. It’s ok if you get a little on your tires – they will flex and expand and contract and the paint will come off. Plus, it’s flat black so it’s not going to be visible anyway.
- Paint them. We did three coats on each wheel and three on the diffuser. We didn’t bother painting the insides of the stock wheels because they’re already a dark grey almost black color and painting them would mean that wheel weights would leave big squares of unpainted area each time you had them balanced.
Now let them dry overnight or all day in the sun. The paint itself dries pretty quickly but it’s good to let them set and become flat black before you try and put them on your car. You can test them with the tip of your fingernail and if it feels “tacky” then they’re not ready yet.