Alloy wheel refurb guide

adam cupra 20vt

Built Not Bought.
Mar 31, 2005
Mud Hut
Alloy wheel repair/refurb guide

Firstly I will start off with the materials you need.

1 can aerosol etch primer. This is IMPORTANT do not use any old normal primer it needs to be etch primer
2 cans 500ml grey primer [get white primer if your planning on painting wheels white]
3 cans 500ml colour. I used satin black this time.
2 cans lacquer [clear, pearl...choice is yours] OR if like me you choose to paint satin black use a good wax polish to seal the paint and protect it.
4 RED Scotchbrites [there like scouring pads]
1 sheet 80 grit paper
2 sheets 120 grit paper
1 sheet 240 grit paper
1 sheet 320 grit paper
I 85grm tube of chemical metal ONLY if you have deep kerb marks or damage you need to fill, you will not need this for light scratches.
1-2 rolls 2" masking tape
A box of tack rags, there are IMPORTANT for a good finish
1 bottle of panel wipe or similar

The above seems like quite a list but wont cost that much, the most expensive item will be can of etch primer [about £8-10] the primer and colour are very cheap I paid £3 per 500ml can from the BodyShop warehouse for good U-Pol stuff. [they sell on ebay to the general public]
The sheets of paper are only a few pence each so are the scothbrites.
Chemical metal is about £5 for a tube [with hardner and spreader]
Tack rags are under £5 for box of 10
Panel wipe is very cheap.
You ideally want some kind of fume mask if your going to be in close contact with the paint fumes [couple of quid]

The first thing to do is wipe over the wheels with panel wipe of a good cleaner to remove all the dirt and grease, this needs to be done well as you don't want anything that will react to the paint left on the rims, do the insides of the wheels to.

If you are planning a colour change and want the inside of the rims painted this should be done now rather than later, this is because the over spray from the inside will go on the outer rim a bit.......this is fine at this stage as you will be rubbing down the outer rim in a later stage.
If you are painting the inside you will need to do the following.

1 rub down all the inside surfaces with a red scotchbrite to give the paint/primer a good key.
2 thoroughly clean the inside surfaces with panel wipe
3 mask off the tyre using 2" masking tape against the rim [you can use newspaper or plastic sheet etc to cover the rest of the tyre]
4 if you are going to a lighter colour you may need to prime if not you can apply colour straight onto the inner rim. You should apply this in LIGHT EVEN coats and allow the paint to go 'tacky' before applying further coats, the amount of coats you apply will depend on the paint and the colour [in all honestly you prob can't see the inner rim whilst on the car so unless your going for colour change of your fussy you could just clean them and not worry about painting them......its up to you]
5 you can laquer over the paint if you really want......I never bother personally as its only the inside.
6 leave it to dry for hour or so.

That's the boring bit out of the the fun parts.

1 If you still have tyres on now is the time to mask them up to avoid them getting damaged and painted [I didn't actually mask my tyres up because mine were damaged and in need of replacement] Do this as you did with the back of the tyre.

2 Now you are ready to sort out any damage and do any repairs, take a bit of 80 grit paper and sand down any areas of heavy kerbing to BEAR METAL it must be bare metal for the filler to get a good key, you should take a area bigger than the damaged area down to bear shown here. Its up to you weather your going to do 1,2,3 or all 4 wheels at the same time. I found it easier to do 2 at a time.

3 wipe over the bare metal areas with the panel wipe so they are 100% free from grease and dust.

adam cupra 20vt

Built Not Bought.
Mar 31, 2005
Mud Hut
4 You are now ready to apply your chemical metal, instructions are included with it but basically you you add the harder to the filler and mix it up, you then apply this to the damaged areas as shown here...... dont rush but try not to take to long as it will start to set after a few minuites [a couple in warm weather] although it will seem hard in 10 mins I'd leave it 25 to fully harden, this will also make it easier to sand.

5 you are now ready to sand down the filler, use 120 grit paper for this, try and keep it as close to shape of the rim as possible [probably flat] sand with 120 until its nearly the same shape as the wheel then you can finish with 240 grit paper [less scratches and a smoother finish]

6 if you have sanded to much out its no problem you can simply repeat the above step again [put filler on filler its fine to do this, dont go back down to metal and start again]
7 get your 240 and feather out the edges of the paint to make them smooth, do this again with the 320 grit paper to get a smooth finish....this is important, if you do not feather the edges it will show through the paint at a later stage
8. You can now sand down and minor scratches on the wheels, use 120 grit for deep scratches then go over with 320 to feather the edges like you did above. DO NOT use 80 grit, even if you need to go down to bare metal just take a bit longer with the 120 [the 80 was only to give the filler a good key]

9 Take your red scotch brite and rub down the whole outside of the will see it takes the shine off and gives the primer a good surface to 'key' into
10 Wipe over the whole outside are with panel wipe and a clean cloth
11 get tack rag and wipe over the whole outer wheel [these are sticky rags they pick up and dust and debris leaving you a clean dust free surface]
12 Take your can of ETCH primer and shake for 2 mins [dont just give it a quick shake like most people do it needs to be mixed properly] The etch primer is only for the bare metal areas, it doesn't matter if it goes on painted areas but you have normal cheaper primer for that :) apply 2 LIGHT coats of etch primer.......make sure they are light etch primer will react if you put it on heavily. Leave this 20mins to go off.

13 you can now take you can of grey primer and prime the whole outer wheel.....go over the whole outer face including the parts you have etch primed, leave to dry for a hour or 2 should now start to look smart as all one colour in primer
[at this stage its ok that the over spray has gone on the inner wheel a bit the top coat will obviously do the same and cover it]

14 The primer only needs a key for the top coat to stick to, use the red scotch brite for this and sand over the whole outer wheel, if there are any lumps,bumps or scratches now is the time to sand them out [use 320 for this] if at this point you go a bit mad sanding out any imperfections you have noticed you can re prime again using the grey primer [obviously etch and bare metal areas first]
15 This is the best part.....your ready to apply the top coat, shake the can for few minutes to ensure a even mix, again as before use LIGHT coats and gradually built them up to create a good finish......dont try and wack it on it WILL look crap and maybe even react. I applied 2 coats to the actual outter wheel rim before starting to paint the rest of the wheel [this just ensures the part of the rim that is most likely to get damaged has more paint on then the other bits] I applied 3 further coats to each wheel giving a good coverage and finish.
16 If you are applying a lacquer it should be applied when the top coat is slightly tacky, do exactly the same as with the top coat.....light even coats, how many coats you decide to apply depends on how much of a shine you want [I can't show you any pictures of this because I didn't lacquer mine I applied a wax instead because mine are satin black and I don't want them shiny like a gloss]
17 leave the wheel to dry for an hour or two, DO NOT try and de mask it until its dry as you will make a mess and ruin all your hard work........wait until paint is dry and carefully de mask.
18 Stand back, scratch your balls and admire your newly painted wheels! :)

I would personally apply a coat of wax to the wheels weather you have applied a lacquer or not as it gives them a much better protection.

I hope this guide has been of help to some of you, hopefully I haven't missed anything.


Active Member
Apr 27, 2009
Bangor, N.I
thats pretty impressive there adam. could never do it myself though, far too impatient. id definately end up rushin it so itd never look as good


Active Member
Apr 26, 2009
im looking at getting mine powder coated ive been quoted £20-£25 a wheel, i have also gone down to their workshop and it looks professional enough.
I have the patience to follow your guide and to be honest the out come of yours is impressive.

So the question is do i pay roughly £90 for the professionals + pay a garage to get my tyres off/on + not have my car for 4 days or give it the rolf harris treatment?

adam cupra 20vt

Built Not Bought.
Mar 31, 2005
Mud Hut
Cheers I was going to do a inlet manifold polishing guide but I'm 3/4 way through and I forgot to take pictures :lol: ..........Thats really easy tho alot easier than doing the wheels :)


Full Member
Feb 28, 2006
Jersey, Channel Islands
Bought everything on the shopping list for 45 quid. Gonna have a go as soon as I have the time. I've bought matt black, figure I can chuck some lacquer on if i decide I want a bit of shine once done. Not looking forward to putting the old multispokes back on.......i'm gonna hate it!!!
Feb 22, 2009
South Wales
might do this to my cupra starfish wheels not so much a refurb more a colour change - brighter silver or gunmetal colour not sure yet standard colour is shocking


Active Member
Oct 5, 2008
Bought everything on the shopping list for 45 quid. Gonna have a go as soon as I have the time. I've bought matt black, figure I can chuck some lacquer on if i decide I want a bit of shine once done. Not looking forward to putting the old multispokes back on.......i'm gonna hate it!!!
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