How to paint steel wheels

Updated April 17, 2017

Painting steel wheels is a relatively easy process that requires patience and little money. With a little effort and some elbow grease, one can drastically improve the look of your automobile. The colour choice, of course, is up to the owner. You can achieve a mild factory look or a wild, custom look with your colour selection. It is an easy way to improve the value. The key is patience and preparation.

Prepare the surface of your wheels by using the sandpaper to sand it down so that the surface appears uniform. Use the wire brush to further scuff the wheel, so that the paint will adhere properly.

Wash the wheel with a mild detergent to remove any dirt or grime.

After the initial cleaning, apply degreaser. Once the degreaser has been applied, wash the wheel off with water. Allow ample time for the wheel to dry completely.

Apply masking tape or blue painter's tape on the tyre's sidewall and around the tyre's valve stem to limit the overspray from the paint.

Apply primer to the wheel. In a well-ventilated area, spray the wheel so that it is evenly covered with primer. Allow time to dry.

Spray the wheel with the paint. The application of two to three light coats limits paint drips and runs. Allow time to dry and remove the masking tape.


The more preparation that is put into making the wheel's surface smooth and uniform, the better the result.


If your wheels are not completely clean and dry, the paint will not adhere properly.

Things You'll Need

  • Steel wool
  • Degreaser
  • Mild detergent
  • Bucket of water
  • Spray enamel paint
  • Spray primer
  • Masking or painter's tape
  • Dust mask or respirator
  • 80- to 100-grit sandpaper
  • Wire brush
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About the Author

Emma Green holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and was the editor of her college's literary journal. During graduate school, she helped establish a student organization that focused on philosophy and literary theory, and she has written for both eHow and Answerbag.