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Home > Technical Articles > Wheel Painting

Guest Technical Article

Wheel Painting

Lawrence Bonkoski


Here are the steps I used to paint the Mahle wheels on my Limited Edition 914.  Read all the instructions through before starting.  There is a materials list at the end.

Step 1.  Wash the wheels and wipe them down with a good wax and grease remover.

Step 2.  Media-blast the wheels.  Don't use sand or a harsh abrasive.  Use plastic or walnut chips, they're less hard on the metal.  Remove any old paint or dirt that you couldn't get off with washing. 


Step 3.  Wipe down with wax and grease remover again, then mask off the wheel.  Go to your local auto body supply shop and ask for a good automotive quality masking tape that contains plastic.  Spend an extra 2 or 3 dollars and get the good stuff, you'll be happier in the next few steps.  Be sure to mask the back side of the wheel.  Cover ALL the holes.

Step 4.  Put on some latex gloves (surgical type) and wipe the wheels down again with wax and grease remover.  Then, rinse the floor down gently with water.  It will help keep the dust down when you paint.


Step 5.  (You still have gloves on, right?) Paint the wheel with Wurth silver wheel paint.  For you concourse weenies, this is stuff the factory used.  I got my Wurth from Pelican Parts.  I used 4 thin coats of paint, and waited 20 minutes between each coat.  Don't hurry, don't spray it heavy - it'll run.

Step 6.  Wait until the paint is COMPLETELY dry for the next step.  I waited overnight.  (If you're just going to paint your wheels silver, then stop here, and use Wurth clear to clearcoat the wheels.)  Cover the wheels to prevent dust from gathering.


Step 7.  Put on a new pair of latex gloves.  At this point you're ready to mask the wheel again.  Remember buying that good tape in step 3?  Now you'll be happy you did.  Mask the wheel again along the inside edge.  The tape will stretch a bit, so be sure you're matching the inside curve of the wheel.  Place the tape down and smooth it gently but firmly.  Don't press hard, or when you remove it, you'll pull up some of the silver.  After masking the edge, then mask over the rest of the area.


Step 8.  Then, rinse the floor down gently with water.  It will help keep the dust down when you paint.  Spray your color coat according to manufacturer's instructions.  I used a custom mix PPG color to match my sidestripes and rocker panels.  It took 5 coats of Summer Yellow to completely cover the silver.  While you're spraying color, you may want to rotate the wheel a bit to get the inside lips of the holes.

(When you buy your color, you may need to purchase reducer or other chemicals.  Ask your auto body supply store for advice.  Whatever brand of color you use, make sure you get your clear coat in the same brand.  Don't mix brands - their products are often not compatible, and will create a huge mess.)

Step 9:  Wait until the paint is completely dry according to manufacturers directions.


Step 10:  Slowly and gently unmask the wheels.  When you pull off the masking tape, pull it back in the opposite direction.  Do not pull it straight up and off.  This will help prevent the silver paint beneath from lifting.

Step 11:  Check the rest of your masking tape and paper.  Make sure it's all in place.

Step 12:  Then, rinse the floor down gently with water.  It will help keep the dust down when you paint.  Mix and spray your clear coat according to manufacturer's instructions.  To save money, I used the leftover PPG clear coat from when I painted my car. If you get a run in your clear, don't panic.  Keep spraying as normal, and you can fix it later. 

(NOTE:  Regardless of what brand of clear you use, test it by spraying some over the Wurth silver on a test card.  If the clear bubbles up or the Wurth streaks, the clear may not be compatible.  Better to find out before you spray your wheels.)

Step 13:  Wait for the wheels to dry according to the manufacturer's directions (probably about 8 hours or so).  If got a run in the clear, now is the time to fix it.  Take a new razor blade (not a utility knife blade) and shave the run down.  Sand gently with 800 grit sandpaper.  Then, spray 1-2 medium coats of clear.


Step 14:  Unmask your wheels gently.  I gave the wheels an additional 3-4 days of dry time before having them balanced and mounted on the car.  Probably not necessary, but I was playing it safe.  Insist your tire shop put the wheel weights on the INSIDE of the wheel.

Materials list:

  • media blast facility (own or pay services)
  • automotive wax and grease remover
  • 1 box of latex (surgical) gloves
  • 1 pint color (plus reducers, ect)
  • 1 pint clear (plus reducers, hardners, etc)
  • 1 can Wurth silver
  • 2 rolls of 3M masking tape
  • a "half load" of masking paper (1 roll)
  • 1 hose 
  • 1 new razor blade
  • sandpaper, 800 and 1000 grit

If you have questions, feel free to drop me an email.  :)

Send mail to with questions or comments.

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