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How To Paint Semi Truck Rims? (Ultimate Guide – With Video)

Semi-truck rims are typically painted for two primary reasons; to protect the rim from corrosion, or to make the rim look good especially if one is looking to restore an old rim.

In this article, we take a look into the methods and steps on how to paint your semi truck rims… and make them look great!

Here’s a Quick summary on How to Paint Semi-truck Rims:

To paint your semi-truck rims, the first step is to remove the wheel from the truck and prep the rim. Afterward, apply coats of primer to all areas of the rim. Let it dry, then use a suitable paint depending on whether the rim is aluminum or steel. Let it dry and apply another coat if desired.

Can Aluminum or Steel Semi-truck Rims be Painted?

Yes, aluminum or steel semi-truck rims can be painted. 

Painting a steel or aluminum rim is only one of the many activities that go into creating a genuinely unique semi-truck and also making it more durable at the same time.

What is Required to Paint Semi-truck Rims?


Here are the tools that are required to paint your semi-truck rims:

1. Wheel cleaner

2. Wire brush

3. Sandpaper

4. Steel wool

5. Rubbing alcohol

6. Tape

7. Newspaper or plastic

8. Cloth

9. Rags

Safety Gear

In painting your semi-truck rims, you must use a paint respirator mask.

 After all of this preparation, the last thing you want to do is become disoriented and pass out, landing on the freshly painted rims.

 Paint fumes can be harmful to your health as well.

Work Space

To get the most significant results, choose a speck of dust- and pollen-free place and lay out the drop cloth on the surface of your painting spot. 

Also, ensure that your painting site has adequate ventilation.

Coating System for Semi-truck Steel Rims

For the semi-truck steel rims coating system, powder coating will be used. 

To prevent flash rusting, the bare rim should be coated as soon as possible to protect it from moisture. 

Primer is an optional base coat applied to bare metal to aid subsequent coat adhesion.

Powder coating applies an electrostatically charged powder paint to a surface and cures it in an oven. 

The rim can be restored quickly after it comes out of the range. When using solvent or water-based paints on wheels/rims, the finish can be left to dry at room temperature or cured in an oven.

No more than 3.5 mils total thickness on the mounting surfaces shall be measured mid-way between the bolt holes in a minimum of five spots on both sides of the wheel, regardless of the type of finish used.

Any runs or excessive coating thickness should be avoided, especially around the bolt circle, rim mounting, and bead-seating surfaces.

Coating System for Semi-truck Aluminum Rims

For a semi-truck aluminum rims coating system, electrostatic powder coating will be used. 

A hand-held spray gun applies electrostatic powder coating in a separate booth. The powder is positively charged and sprayed onto the rim, where it adheres due to a negative charge.

Powder coatings designed for specific applications improve wheel adhesion and resistance to corrosion. 

This takes about two minutes and a half. Curing the powder in an oven for 15 minutes at a wheel temperature of 380 to 420 degrees liquefies and cures it into a hard surface.

After another 15 to 20 minutes of cooling, the rim will be ready for the final inspection.

How much Paint do you Need to Paint your Truck rims?

With 2-3 cans, you can complete a full set of 5 rims. 

Sanding down to bare aluminum and spraying a coat of self-etching primer produces the best results. 

2-3 VHT color cans will cover 2-3 coats. After that, apply at least two coats of clear.

What are the Steps to Painting Semi-truck Rims?

Here are the simple steps to painting semi-truck rims:

1. Apply running alcohol with a cloth or sponge to the surface of your rims.

2. Apply your primer from a medium distance, carefully getting into every nook and cranny of the rim, especially if the design is elaborate.

Apply two to three coats of primer and let each dry according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

3. Take your preferred paint and prepare it according to the manufacturer’s directions. Start spraying off the rim at the proper distance and make your first even, continuous pass over the rim.

4. Allow the paint to dry according to the manufacturer’s instructions before applying each coat.

Does Rims have to be Taken Off?

It is advisable for the rims to be taken off before painting it. 

You must remove your rims from the truck and prepare them for a fresh finish before you can paint them. 

Sure, you could spray them while they’re sitting, but the outcome would be dreadful, and you’ll almost certainly get overspray on your truck’s paint.

Preparation of Semi-truck Rims for Painting

Here are the steps in preparing the semi-truck rims for painting:

1. You must first take your rims from the semi-truck and prepare them for a new finish before painting them.

2. Degrease and clean both sides of the rims thoroughly, using a level of precision you’ve never used before. Every speck of dirt on the rims must be removed.

3. To create a smooth, blemish-free surface, scrub the wheels with a wire brush, sand them with extra-fine and super-fine sandpaper, and finally rub them with steel wool.

4. Apply rubbing alcohol, paint thinner, or mineral spirits to the rims after they have been washed and dried.

5. Examine the surface. It should be spotless and silky smooth. If not, you’ll have to start with the wire brushing, sanding, and steel wool.

6. Grab the painter’s tape and whatever material you’ve decided to use to protect your tire from paint overspray once the wheels are ready for a fresh finish.

Apply tape under the rim’s lip to wrap the material around the whole circle of the rim. Cover the valve stem with painter’s tape to prevent it from being blocked during the painting process.

Painting of Semi-truck Rims

On your rims, you’ll utilize three different sorts of coating.

1. Prime the wheel

Use three light coats of self-etching spray primer to prepare the rim for painting, allowing each coat to dry between applications. Apply the primer between all of the spokes of the rim.

2. Apply the paint

Otherwise, the color may run, which will not look good. Follow the recommendations on the can for spray distance, method, and the number of suggested applications.

Make sure the paint gets between the rim spokes, and let it dry completely between applications.

3. Apply the clear coat finish

To protect the finish, apply a couple of coats of clear coat. Each time, apply a light coat and let each coat dry completely.

Overall, painting the semi-truck rims is easy. If you are diligent enough to follow instructions, you can do it independently. 

Meanwhile, here’s a more detailed step-by-step video to paint your semi-truck rim:

Finishing of Semi-truck Rims

It would be best to paint the inside side of your rims to achieve a professional-looking finish. 

This is crucial for a professional appearance, especially on rims with thin spokes that allow a good view of the brake components and the inner rim.

You’ll repeat the steps above, but first, mask off the inner part of the tire and paint the inside of the rim before painting the outside. Then, on the outside, apply the finish.

How long do Paint on Semi-truck Rims Last?

According to an industry salt-spray test, paint on semi-truck rims last as it increases corrosion resistance from 750 to 2,400 hours. 

Coating finishes have a 20-year lifespan, although they can be shortened by frequent use, UV exposure, and environmental exposure. 

The longevity of various coatings also varies. Coatings including fluoropolymers and urethanes, for example, can endure longer.

Best Paint for Semi-truck Rims

Here are some of the best paint for semi-truck rims:

1. Spray paint

  • It’s an oil-based composition that dries quickly and lasts for a long time.
  • Rim paint that resists dents and scratches and provides a long-lasting finish.
  • For a fresh new look, apply a glossy, high-shine finish.

2. Truck Bed Liner

  • It has a non-slip coating and is abrasion-resistant.
  • It prevents rust, scrapes, and scratches by sealing out moisture.
  • It’s also simple to use and clean up.

3. Rim Coatings

  • Highly reflective metallic finish
  • Brake dust and chemicals are resistant to the durable finish.
  • Cracking, flaking, and peeling resistance

4. Peelable Spray Paint

  • It’s a semi-permanent coating that goes over the existing paint color on the rims without needing to sand them down or blast them.
  • The chemical produces a robust coating resistant to most typical forms of impact and abrasion after application. Still, it also has the advantage of being removable when the wheels need to be changed or if a different color is wanted.
  • It can persist for up to four years if applied thickly enough, with little to no upkeep required.