14 Pros and Cons of Powder Coating Wheels

Powder coating is a process that can improve the look of your wheels while reducing the overall cost of your aesthetics. Instead of paying for custom rims when they begin to look worn out, refinishing them by investing in this service can help them to make them look brand new once again.

The powder coating provides ground particles that are made of specific pigments and resin. They are electrically charged as they get sprayed to the surface that needs refinishing – like your wheel rims. That charge makes it possible to adhere to the metal, and then the wheels get baked so that the surfaces blend together to create a hard cure. That process results in a high-quality, durable surface that gives you a look that is consistently fantastic.

Although there are other ways that you can improve the overall look and durability of your rims that need an updated finish, there are several pros and cons of powder coating wheels that you’ll want to look at today.

List of the Pros of Powder Coating Wheels

1. You receive a higher level of resistance with the powder coating.
The rims of your vehicle are going to see a lot of action as you drive. Depending on the season, you could start dealing with flaking, chipping, or corrosion issues that the salt, road grime, and other outdoor elements can cause with each rotation. The debris on the road, or even the gravel of a country street, may create damage that requires a repair.

The powder coating on the rims will create a non-porous surface that shields the wheels more than a traditional paint would create. You’ll come out of some unforgiven conditions with less overall damage than you would in most other scenarios.

2. Powder coating provides your wheels and rims with better durability.
When you have the particles from the powder coating sprayed onto your rims, then they go into an oven to bake at high heat levels. This process causes the coating to fuse together, creating a curing process that will help to add another level of durability to the product. You’ll see a thicker surface, consistent surface coverage, and a longer overall life.

When someone applies a powder coating to your rims correctly, then the surface can last up to three times longer than the traditional painting work that some vehicle owners prefer.

3. It is better for the environment to be powder coating your rims.
When you can redo your rims by yourself, then it can feel like you’re saving some cash and doing something good for your vehicle – or even the environment. The only problem with a standard paint covering is that many of the products that get applied to rims today tend to have volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in them. Not only is this product harmful to your lungs if you were to breathe it in, but it is also problematic for the ozone layer.

When you decide to use a powder coating for your wheels instead, then you can eliminate the threat of VOCs completely. You won’t need to deal with the excess paint you might have as well, which is virtually impossible to capture or reuse after you finish your wheels. If you have extra powder with this process, you can quickly recycle it without difficulty.

4. Powder coating provides you with better coverage for your rims.
If you compare the coverage that you receive with a traditional liquid paint to the powder coating, then the latter wins every time. There are certain areas of your wheels where a liquid paint is almost impossible to apply without adversely impacting other areas of the vehicle. If the rims are complex or feature intricate designs, you’ll encounter that issue as well when you are painting them.

Powder coating uses an electrostatic method that, when combined with the curing process, allows you to access the most challenging parts of your wheels to ensure that there is adequate coverage over the entire surface.

5. You’ll save money with a powder coating when compared to other surfaces.
Although you will typically pay a little more for a powder coating on the initial work, it can you a ton of cash in the long run when you choose this surface option for your wheels. According to pricing information provided by Thumbtack, the average price to do an entire set of wheels is typically between $400 to $700. Some areas might provide this service for a little less if there isn’t much demand for the product. You can also find providers charging in excess of $4,000 for complex jobs.

6. The curing time for powder coating is much less than paint.
When you compare the liquid coatings that you might use on your wheels with the powder coating option, then it requires less processing time. It will go through the drying and curing process faster as well. Instead of needing several hours to have your rims ready, you can have the powder coatings ready in as little as 10 minutes. Painted wheels might take several hours to dry without heat, or even 45-60 minutes if you have an oven.

That means you can get in and out with your updated look in very little time. You’ll also be working with fewer staging areas if you do the work on your own, which means the spatial requirements are a lot less.

7. Powder coatings can apply to several different wheel materials.
When you want to powder coat wheels, you’ll be primarily using this process for metal materials, such as aluminum, steel, or stainless steel. You can also use brass with this process if you wish. There are a variety of non-metal rim components that may benefit from this option as well, such as fiberboard or glass. The only limitation that you have when creating the durable finish is that the material you use must be able to go through the heating process.

8. You can utilize all of your materials.
Powder coating materials use almost all of the coating when working with your wheels. That means you don’t suffer the losses of overspray like you would with the traditional liquid paint. This product doesn’t contain solvents either, which means there is zero loss because of evaporation. The utilization rate for this product is almost 100%.

List of the Cons of Powder Coating Wheels

1. There can be problems with the color application with powder coating.
When you opt for the powder coating instead of the paint, there may be issues with the final tone or hue that you receive once the rims come out of the oven. The baking process usually creates a consistent result, but there can be times when recycled product can get into what you’re using. That means you can encounter problems with cross-contamination, even when the same particles are applied to all of your wheels.

If you want a precision color matching experience with your vehicle, the powder coating option for your wheels might not be the best option.

2. The thickness of the surface can be problematic for some wheels.
Powder coating is an excellent choice for wheels when you need a thick finish that can handle some challenging situations. When your goal is to create a thin surface on your rims for a specific look, then you’ll find that this option works against you. It is virtually impossible to create thin surfaces when choosing this option. If your project requires a build that is less than 6mm, then you’ll need to rely on a different process to create the results you want.

3. You will have the startup costs to consider with this surfacing option.
If you have a local provider who will put together a complete set of wheels for less than $400, then powder coating them is a legitimate option. When your provider is in high demand and is charging 10 times that amount, then the start-up costs could bankrupt the rest of your project. This issue applies to providers as well. Operators need a specific booth to apply the particles for the surface in the first place. Then there is the oven that needs to be of a specific size and operate at high temperatures to avoid limiting the size of the rims that are workable.

4. You need to grind the rims to get a solid coating.
If you want the powder coating to hold well, then you need to grind your rims so that the surface is workable for the baking process. That means any paint needs to come off of the wheels before you can get started. If you already have a powder coat on there that needs a touch up, then this preparation work can become a real headache over time.

Because of this disadvantage, touch-ups are quite difficult to complete if you do catch some scratching. You need to take it back to your provider to finish the task (which might mean a complete redo), or you’re stuck painting the product to make the appearance aesthetically similar – which negates many of the advantages that you had in the first place. If you have a non-metal surface, then a fluidized bed coating application is necessary, so the coat is more difficult to achieve.

5. There is less control over the smoothness of the coating.
If you’re working with an experienced powder coating provider, then the results of the work are usually consistent. You do have less control over the final smoothness of the surface because the baking process works with the electrolysis to create a strong bind. There are times when the heat might be a little off or the powder doesn’t affix as it should, which means your rims will need to be restarted because the look might be inconsistent.

6. Thicker parts can be problematic with powder coating.
When you work with your average set of wheels and rims, then powder coating can give you a shorter drying time. Your curing and processing work speeds up as well. If you have heavier rims or larger parts that you plan to use with your vehicle, then your advantages may be somewhat negated. You experience this issue because the entire part must receive a sufficient amount of heat to experience the advantages of this product. The extra size requires a larger volume of heated air and exhaust, which means it needs more time to complete the work. That can negate many of the pricing advantages which are possible with this technology.

Verdict on the Pros and Cons of Powder Coating Wheels

Powder coating is a viable option for most wheels if you want to update your look or restore what you have. Although it may not be the best option in every scenario, the value of this work is typically worth the investment that you make.

The pros and cons of powder coating wheels may not apply to every driver, but these key points can help you to decide if a custom look is right for your vehicle. Talk to your provider about all of your options before proceeding to ensure that you get the results that you want.

About the Author
Brandon Miller has a B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin. He is a seasoned writer who has written over one hundred articles, which have been read by over 500,000 people. If you have any comments or concerns about this blog post, then please contact the Green Garage team here.