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So I don't screw up - Painting rims

Hi all. I’m giving my 2000 Honda CR-V a needed backyard paint job. First task is painting the stock silver colored wheels a black matte. I have done all the research on prep work, but still have one question. I want to paint the rims while the tires ar on the car. These rims have 6 or is it 8 holes where you can see through to the wheels, caliper etc.
If I paint on rims on the car paint will go through the holes (hard to mask them) If paint gets inside and on the wheel, could that cause problems?
Thanks all. As I said “so I don’t screw up.”

It shouldn’t cause any problems.


Thanks Tester

I would pull the rims off myself, maybe an extra step of paper behind the holes in the wheel will prevent any paint on the rotors if you have disk brakes.

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So you think the paint could cause some problems on the rotors? Or just to be cautious take them off?

My neighbor did this and he pushed pieces of cardboard between wheel and rotors, taped tires and sprayed away.

I paint my rims and I just stuff some rags between the spokes to cover the calipers and discs. I also put rubber ends like are used on table legs on my chrome lug nuts. Masking the tire is the hardest part of the job.

I don’t think it will cause serious problems, but you might not be able to get every nook and cranny.

Really you should take the wheels off to do a decent job. You can do one at a time if that’s the problem. When I did my trailer wheels I waited until new tires were going to be mounted so I could break the seal on the tire, then used a couple pieces of card board with half moons cut in them to go around the tire. So you could do the same thing behind the wheel, or a couple garbage bags or whatever.

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I wouldn’t worry at all about paint on the brakes. Those things have such a torturous existence it’s real hard to imagine some overspray causing any trouble. An easy way I’ve masked tires is by rubbing mineral oil or similar onto them with a cotton rag, so the paint won’t stick.

I agree that the paint is unlikely to cause a problem but the finished product might look worse than it began.

I might add that the wheels that my neighbor spray painted while still on car looked awful. Looked like just what they were , rattle can paint job.


My experience has been the opposite of that. Mine came out excellent. I just cleaned them well, primed them, and sprayed them. I originally did them about 4-5 years ago and just redid them this summer. I’ll try to remember to post a photo tomorrow (it’s night outside right now).

Thanks all for the advice. I was concerned that it would look like the “rattle can paint job” Volvo_V70 pointed out. Just can’t justify $200-$500 I don’t have to spend for new rims.These have some rust and don’t look great.
Oh well, decisions, decisions.
Anyway, thanks for all the input on everything included the cardboard and rag trick to cover the holes.

Is it really that tough to just take the wheels off? IMHO it is easier to clean and prep so the paint will actually look decent. Just my 2 cents worth.

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When I painted steel wheels I used POR-15 paint with a brush, no overspray issue:

The POR looks great. Cars with plastic wheel covers and rusty wheels underneath look crappy. POR is nice and black.

I always used Murphy’s oil soap on the tire and then washed off the overspray. The dollar store has imitation Murphy’s or dish washing liquid. Murphy’s is probably thicker. I always covered the valve stem with a piece of tubing; metal, rubber, plastic; whatever is handy.

I’m with the others. Just take them off. Takes 5 minutes per wheel and you don’t end up with crappy-looking overspray everywhere. Why go to all the trouble and effort of painting a car to make it look better only to have it look bad because you skipped prep steps?

Take 'em off, get a big piece of butcher paper, tape it to the tire, then cut a hole where the wheel is and tape the paper down to the tire so you don’t get paint on that either.

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As promised, my spray painted wheels… using Krylon. And painted while mounted on the car.


Boy, that looks great. What color and type of Krylon did you use?