How to Mask Tires to Paint Wheels

Updated November 21, 2016

An old rim can be given a brand new look with a fresh coat of paint. Cover the sidewall of the tire before you paint or you'll get paint where you don't want it. Paint over-spray on the rubber of a tire looks terrible and doesn't come off easily. The supplies needed to accomplish this task can be found in the paint section of your local home improvement store. The job should only take about 20 minutes per tire, maybe less, once you get the hang of it. Take the tires off the vehicle before masking them.

Place a strip of high adhesive masking tape all the way around the sidewall of the tire where it meets the edge of the rim. Do this on both sides of the tire if you're going to be painting both sides of the rim. Place the tape as tightly as you can to get a good seal. Loose tape will allow paint to get under it. Press the tape tightly with your finger tips.

Lay a piece of three millimetre painter's plastic over the tire and rim so the entire tire is covered.

Trace a circle on the plastic with a black marker. Follow the outer edge of the previously applied masking tape with the marker.

Remove the plastic from the tire and cut out the circle with a utility knife. Follow the black marker pattern while cutting.

Lay the plastic back over the tire and then place another piece of masking tape all the way around. Place the tape so that one inch of its width contacts with the previously applied tape, and the other inch of its width sticks to the plastic. The rim is now ready for painting. Repeat this process on the other side of the rim if desired. You can wrap the outer protruding edges of the painter's plastic over the tyre's tread and attach it to the opposite side of the tyre's sidewall to hold it in place.


Twelve inch masking paper can also be used in place of plastic.

Things You'll Need

  • 2 inch adhesive masking tape
  • 3mm painter's plastic (large enough to cover the entire sidewall and tread of the tire)
  • Black marker
  • Utility knife
  • 12 inch masking paper (optional)
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