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DIY Tips: 6 Steps to Powder Coat Aluminum Wheels

Posted on: February 1st, 2018 by byersbushblog

How to Powder Coat Aluminum Wheels: You-Do-It HomeShop

There are no shortage of custom rims out there.  Everyone loves beautiful rims.  Wheel rims make your ride all about you.  Supplying aftermarket car wheel rims is a huge business.  Getting that awesome personalized look is not as hard as one might think.  In this post we will discuss how to powder coat car wheel rims.

Powder coating is an effective option.  Professional finishes are not hard to come by when you do it yourself, even for beginners.  As long as you take your time and use the right tools, you can come up with a great finished product!  But you will need the right equipment including a powder coating set up and sandblasting gear.

sandblasting gear

To start, you need to take this one wheel at a time.  No rush, no fuss.  Errors happen and we don’t need to multiply them by four.  If you take your time and follow these simple steps you’ll be cruising the strip in slow-mo with the envy of all your friends starring at your custom powder coated rims.  Let’s break down how to Powder Coat Aluminum Wheels.

Step 1: Prepare Beforehand

The key to any good paint job is in preparing the surfaces.  This is especially true when powder coating.  Traditional paints use acetone thinners to cure and dry the paint.  These types of coatings are a bit more forgiving when it come to dings and scratches.  They tend to fill these like thick molasses, covering over the imperfections.  Powder coating on the other hand is very precise, adhering evenly to all surfaces.  So take your time on this step to ensure that the surfaces are clean and smooth.  Get debris out of corners and clean edges thoroughly.

TIP: You can use a light grade sand paper to even out any “curb-rash”.

If the rim you are working on is particularly marked up, consider using a blast media cabinet.  These cabinets contain sand or glass beads that can be sprayed at high velocity across the unit.  This approach typically produces the most desirable results.

This is the step that separates the competition.  Spray coating is the fastest and easiest part of the job.  It takes patience and focus, but the results are rewarding.  It’s ok to be a perfectionist.

Step 2: Have a Blast Sandblasting

Now that the rim is clean of dirt and debris, the next important step is sandblasting.  The initial cleaning will rid your wheel of loose debris, but only a good sandblasting can prepare a surface that will adhere properly with the paint.  Don’t skip this step!  Blast every part of the rim, not just the face.  Take the time to remove all the old coatings or the new powder coat will not fix itself to the wheel.  It will attach to the old paint.

TIP: Clear coatings blast off faster than parts of the old rim that were previously painted, note the difference and sand blast thoroughly.

At this stage of the project some choose to modify the structure of their wheel rim.  Holes can be cut into the face of the rim or shapes can be carved in the surface.  This can be done by hand or programmed into a cutting machine like a water jet cutter.  Lay out your pattern and make the desired modifications.

Step 3: Hang the Wheel

Finally we are starting to get to the fun part!  The application of our desired powder coat.

You will need to coat the entire wheel rim.  This means you will need to hang the rim so you have free access to all sides of the unit.  Steel hooks or steel bailing wire can be useful.  Remember all the pieces you use must conduct electricity as the powder coating technique relies upon electrostatic transfer.  Then attach the grounding lead to your setup.  Powder coating is generally done in a booth setup.  If you don’t have a spray booth, a makeshift tent will work.  You can build one with roll plastic and duct tape.  This booth must be well ventilated.

TIP: All wheel rims will have a hole for the tire air stem to come through.  Put a bolt through this opening to attach the rim to your hanging device.

wheel rims

Step 4: Get Your Coat On

Now use the Corona Gun to spray the powder onto the rim.  Coat all the surfaces evenly by holding the gun horizontally and approximately 8 inches from the wheel.  Don’t bother applying a powder coating to the inside of your rim as this area is covered by the tire.  As they say “no waste, no want”.

Choosing a reliable powder coating supplier is also important to quality powder coating.  The powders must be stored in the correct environmental conditions to perform properly.  Typically, storing product under 80F and 50-60% RH is sufficient.  The powders should not be stored longer than one year.  When the environment of the unit to be coated and the storage conditions are different, wait 24 hours for the powder to adjust to the environment.  This protects you from condensation in humid environments.  Heat is another issue that must be taken into consideration when making an application of powder coatings.

TIP: when you begin setting up for the spray coating, Use this time to preheat your curing oven to around 400F

Step 5: Let it Cure

Now your powder coating is ready to be solidified.  Place the wheel rim into your preheated oven.  The oven should be preheated to 400F prior to the heat curing process.  This is important because the powder must reach a liquefied stage completely if it is to cure properly.  Depending on the formulation and binding agent different cure times are required.

TIP: Read the label of your powder coating product thoroughly before application.  Take note of the cure and dry times.

Step 6: Drying

After cooking the coated rim for the appropriate amount of time in the oven, let it cool down before handling the rim.  Just like baking cookies, they need to cool down to solidify.

People claim that “the clothes make the man”.  If you dress nice, people take notice.  The same is true for our automobiles, “The rims make the car”.

Follow this simple step by step guide and tell the world who you are.  Enjoy the beauty and precision of powder coated wheel rims! Let Byers Bush help you apply this to your car.

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