How to do your own alloy wheel refurbishment - by Chrispy

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How to do your own alloy wheel refurbishment - by Chrispy

Post by Russ » Sun Mar 05, 2006 6:25 pm

Thanks to forum member Chrispy for this 8)


Righto, as last week I refurbed the rear wheels and posted up the results, I thought I'd do a writeup when doing the front ones.
This way you get an idea of what's involved.

Please bear in mind this is not meant to be a professional job, but merely to tidy up the appearance of the wheels which were totally manky in their original state. Kerbing and blistering was all present and it was this I primarily wanted rid of.
You can quite easily get a much better finish than I did if you spend more time on the prep work and leave it longer between coats. To get a brilliant 'as new finish', pay someone else to do it.

Anyway, here we go.....

You will need:

1 x can of Simoniz 5 wheel silver spray paint (£5 from Halfrauds). This acts as your basecoat/ primer.
1 x can of Ford Stardust Metallic Silver spray paint (£5 from Halfrauds). This is your top coat. Feel free to experiment with this one, but I liked the sparkle that it gives and it's a nice silver colour.
1 x can of cellulose lacquer (£5 from Halfrauds)
1 x pack of Araldite liquid steel. Handy for filling major kerbing and removed chunks (£4 from Halfrauds).
1 x pack of aluminium oxide paper. This is to rub down the kerbed edges and the blistered areas and saves loads of time. It's coarse but don't worry, it's perfect for the job.
1 x pack of fine sand paper. This is to finish the edges after the aluminium oxide paper, and to take the sheen off the entire rest of the wheel. Wet and dry paper is not enough and just clogs up.
2 x rolls of wide masking tape.
1 x heater fan. I class this as essential as it speeds up the whole process and enhances the finish. Without this the time between coats is doubled.
1 x indoor area to work in. I strongly suggest you find a suitable area to spray in. Outside is no good....the spray goes everywhere and the finish is naff.


Onto step 1. I first removed the wheels from the car and inspected them. Ugh what a mess.....brake dust, kerbing and blistering galore.

I then gave the wheels a good clean. Don't go too mad's only so you can see what you're doing and you're not sanding through layers of brakedust. The insides are particularly manky.

I then dried the wheels thoroughly using some rags and left them in the sun for a while. You don't want water whilst working on's a pain.

After they were dry I could begin rubbing them down. I started with the kerbed edges on which I used the aluminium oxide paper to cut through the kerbing nice and fast.
Take your time when doing this and use your fingers to feel your progress.

Now you can have a go at the blistered areas if you have any.

When they're rubbed down they will look something like this.

When the wheels are now smooth, get the fine sandpaper and fully rub down the rest of the rim.....everywhere. You want to take the sheen off the paint all over the wheel. Plus, any finer and it'll clog straight away.
Also you can get a smooth scratchless finish this way from the aluminium oxide paper.

The wheel(s) will now need a rinse to remove all the dust and show up if you have any more work to do.
Here's mine post rinse drying in the sun.

At this point, if you have any major chunks missing or kerbing that you can't rub out, then use the Araldite to fill these gaps. My wheels were ok, and so I didn't bother. Besides, I didn't want perfection..I couldn't be arsed.

Whilst the wheels were drying in the sun, I took the time to clean the rest of the car including the rear wheels which I did the previous week. Here's one of them.
They've survived perfectly and are so much easier to clean now that they're smooth.

Now that the front wheels are dry, I suggest you retreat to your indoor spraying area with them. I used my cellar.

The wheels will need masking off now. This bit WILL pi55 you off I guarantee it. The masking tape simply does not want to stick to the tyres, and so I suggest you use nice short sections of tape (about 4") and don't expect to cover too much tyre per section.

They should end up looking something like this. Don't forget the valves!

Now comes the fun bit...the spraying.
The first coat should be wafer thin....just a dusting. Overdo it here and it'll orangepeel without a doubt.
Whilst you are spraying one wheel, put the other in front of the heater to speed up the drying. Also it helps stop orangepeeling I found as the paint dries before it has chance if you have overdone each coat.
You should leave about 5 mins between each coat. The can says to leave 10, but with the heater this time is halved.

After about 2 coats you can apply a little more paint per coat, but once again, don't overdo it.....dust each wheel and then put it in front of the heater whilst you do the other.
Don't forget to turn the wheel over too and spray the inside (obviously not laying the wheel face down as you do!).

After 5 coats per wheel, they'll look something like this.

Now I suggest you take a break. You want the wheels to dry quite well before applying the top paint. I suggest a good 1/2 hour in front of the heater for all the wheels.
I went and had a cup of tea and a butty.

After you've let them dry you can apply the top coat, in my case, Ford Stardust Silver.
This stuff behaves completely differently to the Simoniz stuff, and as such much more is sprayed out of the can per depression of the button. Be careful here as this stuff can orangepeel much easier. Once again, light dustings are all you need. Build the coats slowly, and allow each wheel to sit for 10 mins in front of the heater before applying another coat.
After about 3 coats, mine looked like this:

The paint now has a much greater sparkle to it and reflects much more light.

I now suggest you take a LONG break to allow the top coat to fully dry. I personally took this time to wax my car with P21S. Top stuff. :wink:

After a good length of time (in my case about 2 hours), the wheels will have dried enough in front of the heater to be lacquered.
This stuff is once again different and behaves differently to the previous 2 products. It's much thinner and hard to tell where you've been and where you haven't.
Follow the same principles as before, leaving each rim in front of the heater for 10 mins before applying another coat.

After 3 coats, mine looked like this.

As soon as the last coat had gone on I removed the masking tape so that it wouldn't peel the paint. Any overspray onto the tyre was easily removed using a brillo pad.
Now, I suggest you leave the wheels off the car overnight and in front of a radiator before putting them back on the car.

In addition, I bought 4 new centre caps from BMW to replace mine as they had gone manky. These were about £4 each plus vat (robbing barstools) and I'll fit these when the wheels go back on the car.


If you want a better finish, spend more time on the prep (rubbing down) and leave it for longer between coats. Also, leave the wheels overnight before applying lacquer. In my case I wasn't too fussed but the finish is still pretty good either way.

Anyway there you have it.....a full set of refurbed wheels for a little over £30, 2 days work and a fcuked up set of lungs from inhaling paint spray. Nice! :D[img]


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