Ultimate guide to Custom Painted Wheels
Updated: Oct 26, 2020
First things first, let’s get the terminology and vocabulary out of the way. Wheels are often referred as rims, alloys, Mags, tekkies, sprinters, rounds (I’m sure I’m missing a couple) and many more variety of slang names. For the benefit of this guide we will be referring to them Mags Rims and occasionally Alloys. I am not an expert in wheel selection nor do I claim to be, but being an artist and running a mag repair company for almost 10 years I feel I may be able to give some insight and maybe steer you in the right direction. Mag Wheel Repairs and Custom Colors Options is a booming trend with thousands of options…Now, lets get to it.
Custom Wheel Options
While some people prefer having stock wheels and rim colors, others jump right in, buy a can and spray their wheels in the backyard the same day. The reality of it all is that a complete customization does require you to think outside the box and tap into your creative spirit. Opting for some custom wheel colors will help you push the boundaries and it can bring in a rewarding and exciting experience. Thanks to custom wheel colors you get to express yourself the way you always wanted, and you can enjoy a great attention to detail in making this epic choice. The best and scariest part about all of this, is that you get to choose the color yourself and adapt it to your vehicle.
Unique, different wheel colors can make your car more interesting and beautiful. Aside from the vehicle color, the custom wheel colors can really make a difference when you modify a car. Sure, you might invest in pop up headlamps, hood scoops and even spoilers, but a color change to your Mags that really makes a difference and stand out dramatically. These are the changes or transformation I should say you want to focus on, and believe me, you will like them more than you might imagine. I have narrowed down the key factors that should be taken into account before deciding your fate.
1. Benefits of custom color wheels
Why would you invest in custom wheel colors and not keep the ones you already have? There are many reasons behind that. For one, when you buy a vehicle, you want to make it your own,(you know, add your signature) You don’t want it to look like all the other vehicles out there. Personalization is key, especially if you have a or already customized vehicle. Knowing how to focus on color value and results can really make a positive difference. Here you can find some reasons why custom colors can be perfect for you, and your vehicles wheels.
One of the main reasons you go with custom wheel colors is because you want your car to be original. Making your car stand out can be tough, but changing the paint of your wheels can really make a huge difference. It just makes the car different in many ways. Custom sprayed Mags can just finish off a car in the right way(and the wrong way) I will discuss this further in this wheel guide
Most of the time you go for custom wheel colors if you want a sportier look. Most vehicles will look amazing and convey a sporty approach with the right choice in custom wheel color and you can do that in no time at all (even before you take delivery from the dealership). It certainly helps a lot and it brings in a unique, rewarding experience at the highest possible level. There is not a dress suit in the world that looks good with flip flops. I’m just saying.
· Shows Your Personality
Usually people change the wheel color because they want one to match their personality or image that they want to portray. Not all stock cars wheels’ will match your ideas and personality, and that’s something to keep in mind. The right custom wheel colors tend to be appealing, different and a pleasure to check out, which is exactly what makes them stellar and sought after!
· Improve the Aesthetics a Your Car
You can only do so much when you need to improve the visual appeal of your vehicle. The custom wheel colors will help you do that by bringing in more colors, while also pushing the boundaries with some creative visuals. It comes in handy, and it can make a huge difference at any stage of your vehicles life. Whether it’s a stock wheel to an entry level VW, or a custom
ü Considering the price of new cars today, customers have to settle for the standard wheel that doesn’t best suit the vehicle. They often change the color to add some flare to the vehicle and some originality.
2. Types of Wheel Finishes
Chrome finishes are very delicate, but they also bring in a lot of shine to your vehicle. If you’re looking to opt for visually impressive wheel coloring, then you do need to have chrome finishes. However, these finishes are very sensitive. If you use alkaline cleaning solutions, that can lead to problems and it’s something you want to keep in mind. Also, this type of finishing is prone to corrosion, so that’s something you want to avoid. Some consider washing with shampoo to be a great way to eliminate corrosion and grime. Also, a polymer or wax based sealant can help you spot rush and eliminate problems. Despite the much-needed care and attention, chrome finishes look amazing, especially if you have an older American muscle car.
To Clean- Your only real problem with Chrome Plated is corrosion. Depending on where you live the weather can have an effect on your maintenance routine. If the car is garage kept and washed frequently there should be no issues with chrome wheels.
To Repair- Don’t ask.
Painted Alloy Wheels
The right paint combo on an alloy rim can be just as visually appealing as chrome plating, it still delivers a great experience and much easier to maintain (that’s what you want to keep in mind). You do need to be careful and prevent any kind of contact with alkaline or acidic products to avoid jeopardizing the clear coat. You also want to avoid Ferrous contamination which can also cause problems with your freshly painted rims. If you go with lacquered or painted wheels I recommend cleaning them at least twice a week , this will avoid any corrosion or buildup of grime and brake dust in the sensitive areas of the wheel (corner are more susceptible to these contaminants). Painted alloys are probably the most popular option due to cost and the wonderful variety of color choices and finishes.
Here are some maintenance Pointers regarding cleaning, the cost and the repair difficulty of each finish.
Keeping them clean and repair advice (The good, the bad and the ugly)
With the amount of Diamond Cut Wheels on factory fitted cars these days and the extreme cost that is attached to repairing this finish, many car owners opt to go with the painted wheel option as it tends to look neater on some cars and come at a fraction of the repair price of diamond cut wheels.
There are 3 types of surface finishes available which I cover in detail further along. But I will reiterate the point as it is important the maintenance of these finishes. Although they are all similar painted options the difference in resistance is an important factor.
· To Clean- very durable paint however, tends to accumulate more grime and brake dust as it has no additional protection and has somewhat of a rougher or porous finish to its cousins Satin, and Gloss.
· To Repair- between the 3 options Matte finish requires the least amount of drama surrounding a scratch. If you are hands on savvy, you may even give it a D.I.Y weekend attempt.
· To Clean- This finish steers more to the look of Matte than it does to Gloss however, it has a smoother finish to Matte allowing for easier maintenance due to the smoother texture wading off excess brake dust etc.
· To Repair- Once again, like its cousin matte finish, satin requires no clear coat which allows for much easier scratch repairs than your gloss finish.
· To Clean- Gloss is the “Bling” cousin. This is most popular as it offers easy maintenance and has a tendency to look clean even if it’s missed a couple of bubble baths. The Clear Coat finish offers a very smooth, shiny surface that assists in avoiding buildup of brake dust etc.
· To Repair- Gloss is often considered the prettiest and we know how that goes. Mainly due to the clear coat finish this option requires some expertise when it comes to dealing with a scratched wheel. (refer to the section of this guide “ Where to have your wheels repaired.”
To offer my two sense, if you are going to the extent of painting you mag wheels I take it you are the type of person that keeps their vehicle and wheels clean . If this is the case, definitely go with the choice that catches your attention and don’t choose based off of maintenance benefits.
Machined finishes are applied with the use of a computer numeric control tool or lathe. In simple terms, this machine tool bit will be programed to cut the metal in a certain pattern and then it will polish the surface to an incredible shine. Nest to Chrome, this is next best option to capture that heavy bling shine. Normally you will also paint the wheel to bring in a contrasting color before loading the wheel onto the lathe. This gives you a stunning 2 tone wheel offering the best of both worlds. You will notice that paint is left in the low spots and the polishing process is completed for the higher spots. The whole wheel is the clear coated in most cases.
To Clean- Machined finished wheels are quite easy to maintain. The only issue I have encountered is that the clear coat can sometimes start to crack or peel on the machined surface either due to corrosion or scratches. The environment you live in can affect this dramatically.
To Repair- Depending on the extent of the damage, minor repairs can often be done at home with a variety of wet sand paper and a polishing compound. More severe damage will entail a specialist and can cost more than expected.
The Diamond Cut is a similar type of cutting machine finishi. It’s actually pretty much the same process, the only difference here is that the lathing process is performed at a much higher speed. Also, the bit used for machining is diamond coated. What that means is that it will offer a finish free of any lines and it’s extremely smooth too. That’s very similar to traditional polishing. The only problem with diamond cut repairs is that you end up with high repair cost than all other finishes Everything is heavily specialized, so you need access to specialized equipment and repairs can take up to 7 days
· Bare Polish with/out Clear Coat
Bare polishing can be great for aluminum wheels because it’s very easy to do and it also looks rather similar to chrome. That being said, this is easier to do because you need only regular polishing products. The fact that these things are readily available can help a lot, and it makes the process less expensive. Rinse the wheels so you can remove the dust and grime before applying the bare polishing finish.
3. Wheel Shine Options
There are a lot of different wheel shine options on the market, each one coming with its own pros and cons. The thing to consider when it comes to wheel shine options is the fact that each one of them can reflect your personality in a different way. The matte finish is offering a rough, rather flat painted finish.. It’s for a more inconspicuous wheel shine and it has the potential to offer you an amazing experience and high quality results.
The satin finish is known for being a glossier matte type, however it’s not as glossy when compared to something like metallic coloring. That really goes to show the true value and quality, and the results themselves can be very impressive and interesting at the same time. But the thing that really makes this finish better is the fact that it’s more forgiving of patches and any holes when compared to glossy finishes. That’s why it makes a lot of sense to use the satin finish if you want a glossier matte but still with lots of resistance. Satin finishes are very popular and you need to check them out just because they deliver so much value and quality.
Glossy finishes offer stain resistance when compared to other finishes. They are also easy to wash and wipe down. The problem is that the damage is harder to repair and it’s easier to see as well due to the nature of how everything looks. That’s something to take into consideration, especially if you want to express yourself and show your vehicle in a very specific way.
A lot of people like to experiment with different finishes for their wheels, and that’s fine. Ideally you want to browse the options and also check out some vehicles that already have the type of finish that you want. Seeing it firsthand will give you a good idea of what you can expect and the quality that you can get. Once you do that, it will be easier to figure out how to handle everything and how to manage the process to make it more comprehensive for your own needs. Only when you see every option you will be able to pick the right one to suit your requirements, so try to focus on that for the best experience.
4. Color Choices for Custom Mag Wheels
Is Black my only option?
A lot of people believe that whenever they want to choose custom wheel colors they need to go solely with black. But that’s not the case. There is a plenty additional colors to take into account, let alone the fact even if you want black custom wheel colors, you can still have a multitude of different variations. You just need to assess the situation and actively figure out what option works better for you.
The black variants like satin black, matte black or gloss black are extremely popular. As the name suggests you can compare these finishes to house paint. You have high gloss, very durable and easy to maintain…usually used in bathroom and kitchen as gloss is easy to clean and hold up well in a high traffic area. Satin, more so for hallways and living areas as it offers a beautiful sheen finish that is still easy to maintain in a high traffic area but has a classy elegant look and feel. Matte black is a choice more for a bedroom as it is very unique and it allows you to bring in some color although not as resistance as gloss. Matte black is great if the car is also matte, it matches the coloring perfectly and you can express yourself in a cool way. Glossy black works really well with most car finishes you just have to pick the right color combo, and it looks stunning. It delivers that fresh sense of value and quality while still pushing the boundaries and offering something new and different, which is what you really need. Plus, you have many other choices aside from black as you will find below.
Anthracite is a compact coal variety and it has a very distinctive coloring. It’s dark, but not extremely dark, it still has some gray nuances which makes it extremely interesting and just a pleasure to check out. That alone is one of the best experiences and results that you can get, which is what you really need in a situation like this.
b. Color match your vehicle
Aside from that, you also have the option to color-match your vehicle. Color matches are common and quite cool too, because you get to have a complete vehicle with amazing features and ideas. Plus, it looks like a comprehensive and fun package, which is exactly what you need in a situation like this. Color matching is maybe the most popular option in this list, but there are
c. Gun metal silver
Silver is a great color option, but you also have some other features like Gun metal silver for example. This is a great color and it can bring in front some unique ideas while also pushing the boundaries and coming up with something new and different. The interesting thing about Gun metal silver is that it’s dull gray, whereas silver is bright. By combining the two, you receive a bright gray with some dullness in it. This is a great option and a lot of people like it just because it’s different and visually appealing, not to mention rather full of creative options too.
Gold is one of the vibrant colors that really works especially with sports vehicles. It imbues a sense of expensiveness, speed and class, which you always want to get. On top of that, it’s visually impressive, vibrant and it brings in a tremendous quality that you do not want to miss. The attention to detail is staggering, and you can easily match the custom wheel with some gold car inlays or lines too. That works if you go with custom paint.
If you want a great custom wheel color, white can be a good one. It imbues a sense of class, while also making your vehicle look stunning. Obviously it works great with white cars, but it also works with a variety of other color types too. That’s why you want to check it out for yourself and you will find this incredibly interesting and visually appealing.
F. Hyper silver
Hyper silver is a rather complex paint process for wheels. It relies on translucent metallic outer paint that’s added to a colored undercoat. This will offer the wheels a very deep inner glow. You get to have flashy wheels without using chrome, which is a plus. It can be very challenging to achieve that, but it does work quite well and you need to test it out for yourself.
Where and who do I get my Wheels Painted by?
This decision can be quite daunting. You definitely take pride in your vehicle and want to make sure that the people you allow to carry out this epic decision take as much pride in their work. There are many fly by night companies that have destroyed plenty of wheels in their time. I have put together a checklist of things to take into account before picking the company to repair or spray your set of wheels.
1. Word of Mouth is always a great start…friends and family may have had their wheels repaired and rave about the quality and service
2. When searching on the internet, always look at Google reviews. This is your best option in finding out what type of company and service they are and offer.
3. Always ask what type of guarantee they offer on workmanship (anything below 1 year should be a red flag) Even poor quality paint has a life span if applied to a correctly prepared surface.
4. Ask the company for their advice, this will quickly show you whether they are an experts or not.
5. How to maintain and clean your custom wheels?
Painted Alloy Rims- Depending on the type of finish or painted wheel you choose, the maintenance is very similar. We recommend cleaning often to avoid corrosion; debris and grime build up from jeopardizing the finish of your rims. In my opinion, the best results and overall safest is sunlight dishwashing detergent and warm water.
· Spray Painted -
· Powder Coating -this process entails spraying the wheels with a dry paint, meaning no emulsion like its counter-part requires. It is a durable finish and some say it is far stronger than base or 2K paint but I still need to asses this. As a result, it will offer a hard protective surface with lots of coverage and really good results. When it comes to cleaning painted wheels, the idea is to use soap and water as well as a soft cloth. This will prevent any damage to the paint finish.
· Chrome Plating - you will need to use the same cleaning system with soap and warm water. Rinse everything away and you will not have a problem getting the best results and value.
· Polished Aluminum
You will need to add some elbow grease to maintain the polish. This will need a lot of care and attention, but if you do it right it will lead to a really good experience and some amazing results every time.
One thing to keep in mind is that you can do most of the cleaning at home. However, you can also opt for professional wheel cleaning if you lack the time or tools to do it yourself. That being said, dust, dirt or even grime can accumulate fast on the wheels, regardless of what finish you might have. Which is why you want to tackle the problem the best way that you can, and if you handle it correctly, results will be really impressive. We encourage you to take that into consideration and if you are handling it correctly nothing will stand in your way.
At the end of the day, choosing your own custom wheel colors can be an amazing experience for yourself and your car. One thing to make sure of that the color you chose fits your vision. It looks amazing and it brings in a great, rewarding experience. Of course there are some challenges along the way, but with the right amount of patience it will be worth it. Yes, you still need maintenance, but if you do this right, nothing will stand in your way and you will appreciate the way everything comes together. Just give it a try for yourself, take your time to find the right wheel color for your vehicle, research the right company for the job and then make sure that you take good care of them! Remember, nothing is permanent, if you are not happy can change colors at any point.