Refinishing is the process of renewing a surface to bring it back to its original state.
Refinishing alloy wheels not only makes them look new again but also extends their service life considerably.
Depending on the condition of your wheels and the kind of finish you want afterward, you can choose from several refinishing methods.
Regardless of which approach you take, it’s best to have an expert at your side to make sure everything goes smoothly and that no damage is done to your wheels in the process.
Brief Review Of The Different Wheel Refinishing Methods
What Is The Best Way To Refinish Alloy Wheels?
Plain and simple, sanding down your wheels and repainting them will give you the most durable finish of all.
It’s the method that has been used in car repair shops and by professional wheel refurbishers for decades.
The process includes removing the old finish with sandpaper and cleaning the surface to remove any contaminants that might be trapped in the pores of the alloy.
It takes a lot of time, effort, and money, which is why most people don’t go this route.
The upside is that sanding down your wheels and applying a paint finish will give them a lasting, durable finish.
Plus, you can customize the finish to make your wheels look exactly the way you want them to.
The downside is that this process is very time-consuming and requires a lot of skill to make sure the surface is completely smooth.
If you’re not careful, you can easily cause damage to the wheel that will become evident once the paint is applied.
Sanding down the wheel and repainting it is the most durable option, but it’s also the most expensive and time-consuming.
How To Refinish Alloy Wheels – Widely Used Methods
Sandpaper And Paint
If you’re going to sand down your wheels and repaint them, it makes sense to start with a primer coat first.
This will help the new paint adhere better to the surface of your wheel, making it less likely to peel off later on.
After the primer coat has dried, you can apply a layer of base coat. A good wheel paint will have an acrylic resin and a solvent that’s compatible with alloy wheel finishes.
It’ll also have a pigment included, so it can give your wheel the color you want. After the base coat dries, you can apply a clear coat for added protection and durability.
An electro-chemical coating is a process that applies a conductive chemical to the wheel, which is then baked so it hardens into a finish.
It’s a fairly new process that combines the best parts of the painting and sandblasting. The result is a coating that’s durable and corrosion-resistant.
The electro-chemical coating process starts with cleaning the wheel thoroughly to remove any dirt or grime. Then, you’ll submerge the wheel in an electrolyte solution.
The solution will harden into a coating that bonds with the wheel and provides an even, smooth finish. You’ll then bake the wheel to set the coating and make it hard.
This is the process used to refurbish wheels that have been severely damaged. The wheel is submerged in a chemical solution, which etches away the current finish.
Afterward, you can repaint the wheel and have a smooth finish. The downside is that this process will damage the wheel beyond repair. It’s mainly used to remove existing coatings and finishes to get down to the base of the wheel.
There are several ways to do it, including a salt etching process, an acid etching process, or a chemical stripping process. The salt chemical etching process starts with cleaning the wheel thoroughly to remove any dirt or grime.
Then, you’ll submerge the wheel in a chemical solution that will eat away at the finish. Afterward, you’ll thoroughly wash the wheel to remove any remaining salt that’s trapped in the pores. The acid etching process starts with cleaning the wheel thoroughly to remove any dirt or grime.
Then, you’ll submerge the wheel in an acid solution to eat away at the finish. Afterward, you’ll thoroughly wash the wheel to remove any remaining acid that’s trapped in the pores. The chemical stripping process starts with cleaning the wheel thoroughly to remove any dirt or grime.
Then, you’ll submerge the wheel in a chemical solution that will eat away at the finish. Afterward, you’ll thoroughly wash the wheel to remove any remaining chemicals that are trapped in the pores.
This process uses diamonds to coat the wheel, providing a shiny finish. The wheel is cleaned thoroughly before being placed in a vacuum chamber.
The vacuum sucks the air out, creating a vacuum environment. Then, diamonds are shot out of a nozzle and land on the wheel. The wheel rotates slowly, which helps the diamonds coat the wheel evenly.
Once the wheel comes out of the chamber, it’s polished and cleaned, and there’s no need to repaint it. The diamond coating process is best for wheels that have been severely damaged.
It’s also best for wheels that are made from materials that are hard to coat, such as magnesium and carbon.
Anodizing is the process of coating a metal with an oxide layer. It creates a smooth, durable finish that’s corrosion-resistant.
It’s best for wheels made from aluminum, magnesium, and other non-ferrous metals.
An anodizing process begins with cleaning the wheel thoroughly to remove any dirt or grime. Then, you’ll submerge the wheel in an acid solution.
The acid will harden the outer layer of the wheel to create a durable and corrosion-resistant finish.
An anodizing process is best for wheels that have been severely damaged and need to be stripped out first.
Refinishing alloy wheels is a great way to get them looking like new again and extend their service life.
While the process is best left in the hands of a professional, it’s helpful to know about the different methods so you can make an informed decision about which one is best for your wheels.
If you have the option of sanding down your wheels and repainting them or getting new wheels, refinishing is definitely the cheaper option.
That way, you can keep your wheels and use them for many years to come.
Frequently Asked Questions
How to refinish aluminum wheels?
Refinishing aluminum alloy wheels is not difficult, but it does involve a few steps to ensure the wheel looks its best.
1. Clean and sand the wheel. First, you must clean the wheel with soap and water to remove any dirt or debris, then use an orbital sander to remove any oxidization on the wheel.
2. Apply primer and paint. Once the wheel is prepped, you can apply a primer to ensure that the paint adheres properly. When the primer has dried, you can use aerosol spray cans of automotive-grade paint to finish the job.
3. Seal and protect. To seal and protect your newly refinished wheel, it’s important to use a clear coat or sealant. This will help protect the aluminum from further oxidation and UV damage.
4. Wax and buff. Once the paint has dried and cured, you can apply wax to give the wheel an extra layer of protection and keep it looking its best for years to come.
How to refinish alloy wheels at home?
The process of refinishing alloy wheels at home requires some basic tools and a bit of patience. First, you need to prepare the wheel by cleaning it with a mild soap and water solution to remove any dirt or grime. Once the wheel is clean, use medium-grit sandpaper to smooth out any damaged areas, and then apply a primer to help the paint adhere. After the primer has dried, apply a layer of high-quality car paint and allow it to dry. Once this is done, use a clear coat to protect the paint from UV rays, weather, dust, and dirt. Finally, you can add any desired decorative accents such as pinstripes or decals for a custom look. With the right tools and a bit of effort, you can easily refinish alloy wheels at home.
How much does it cost to refinish alloy wheels?
The cost of refinishing alloy wheels greatly depends on the type of wheel and its condition. Generally, a basic refinish job can start at around $70-$100 per wheel. However, more intricate jobs may require additional preparation work or special finishes which can raise the price to upwards of $150 per wheel.