Main.TrailIndexPage | Wheels and Tires | Hubcap painting

Hubcap Painting

This method of taping and painting hubcaps has been used by a number of forum members to good effect. This is part of the Hubcaps section.

Supplies needed

Supplies needed


  • 1/4" 3M Blue Vinyl tape (auto paint store)
  • 2" 3M Blue painters tape (Home Depot)
  • Mothers Mag/Aluminum Polish
  • Laquer/paint Thinner
  • Dishwashing soap
  • 9'x 12' paints plastic drop cloth
  • 1 Spray Can of Primer
  • 1 Spray Can of Paint
  • 1 Spray Can of Clearcoat

I got my paint supplies from I think the price was around $45. 3M makes both the blue and green tape in sizes from 1/8" to 6". Shows on cat page 3350


Cleaning and Preparation

I cannot stress how important preparation is on this.

  1. Jet wash clean of brake dust and grime.
  2. Remove old paint. To begin with I used Kleen Strip strip X stripper on the painted sections. (available at Home Depot $9.00) I have used this before on fiberglass you brush it on, the heavier the better but only brush on once...wait until it is bubbling then wipe off with a paper towel. Sometimes you have to put on a second coat on the stubborn parts, also if it can't bite the surface used a little XXXX steel wool (that is 4x steel wool)
  3. Polish the whole rim with Mothers Mag/Aluminium polish. When you are done, and it takes awhile it should look like chrome. If there is any residue from the stripper or road grime you can use the xxxx steel wool. But when you are done there should be no residual anything on the rim. See picture.

Cleaned hubcap

  1. I then go over the entire rim with a little laquer thinner to remove all the wax. I know we just put a fine layer on, but that was to look for imperfections.
  2. Wash & Rinse with Dishwashing soap (degreaser)


Use the 1/4" tape (which can only be purchased from a body shop 3M and about $8.00 per just need 1) to tape the inner ridges.

Never use the razor blade directly on the rim always lift and cut.

  1. Mask outer ring using 1/4" 3m vinyl tape. Start on the inside and fold up and over the outer ring.
  2. Mask inner ring using 1/4" 3m-vinyl tape
    1. Method 1: Use 1/4" tape for entire inner ring. I taped up and over. I found it worked best if I had it on its side. Use one hand for guidance. It seemed to fit perfectly.
    2. Method 2: If you wanted to tape more of the ring (not sure if necessary at all. You are talking about 1/16" if anything) you could put down 2 1/4" tapes. First, tape the inside of the inner ring and fold up and over. Second, tape the outside inner ring and fold up and over so they over lap.
  3. Use 1/4" 3m Blue vinyl tape to cover stars. Start at the points. On a ~3" piece of tape I cut an angle on the last 1/2" of the tape. I used that to start at the point and tape up to the center star. This only covered half of the star point. I did the same thing for the other side of the point. Repeat 2 more times for the other 2 points and then cover the rest. Basically use any method that you feel comfortable with.
  4. Using the 2" Blue painters tape cover the rest of the hubcap

I used both Method 1 & 2 on two hubcaps each. I could not tell any difference. Each Hubcap took me 45 minutes to do. That included several redo's to make sure the tape was put on straight. It does get easier but it can be difficult to see exactly where to mask.

Applying tape to inner ridge

  1. To do the stars I cut the tape first and then went from the point inward. After finishing I then used Painters Tape available at Home Depot to cover the rest of the rim. See pictures below.

Inner rims and star taped

Outer rims taped

Everything taped

The other hubcaps in progress


  1. set up a mini paint booth using the 9x12 drop cloth. I just set up on the garage floor and created a canopy that would fit the 4 hubcaps.
  2. Make sure all hubcaps are completely clean.
  3. Spray 4-5 light coats of Primer 10-15 minutes apart or dry to touch.
  4. Spray 4-5 light coats of Paint 10-15 minutes apart or dry to touch.
  5. Spray 4-5 light coats of Clearcoat 10-15 minutes apart or dry to touch.
  6. Let dry 24 hours

I actually put on about 7-8 each on the advice of the guy that sold me the paint. However, there were a couple of spots where I thought the paint was too thick and made removing the tape tough but not impossible.

These hubcaps are the new stainless steel ones. I bought them on Ebay for $15 each. My originals are the older chrome steel parts. Some day I will remove the old paint and repaint them also.

Taped hubcaps


Remove tape

  1. Carefully remove the tape after 48 hours of drying.

Finished product

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