Your Complete Guide to Truck Wheel Finishes

Let’s face it: You want performance and good looks from your rims. No good off-roading machine is complete without a sleek, stylish set of truck wheels. Shopping for your next set presents a bit of a problem: Which ones do you choose? That’s a good problem to have, but this brief guide to truck wheel finishes can help you save some time and bank before you hit the trails again.

Common Types of Finishes

No matter which finish you choose, every type can add a little flair to your truck’s appearance. The fine details, however, are evident in the color, material and luster of your rims’ finishes. You’ll usually see five types on the market today:

  • Powder coating
  • Paint coating
  • Clear coating
  • Chrome plated
  • Bare polished

Advantages and Challenges

When choosing your next set of all terrain wheels, there are a few performance factors you should consider. Powder coatings are applied using a dry paint and heat technique, containing finely ground resin and color particles. After the finish is electrically charged and sprayed on, the wheel itself is cured in a hot oven. These coatings are rust-, heat-, scratch- and chip-resistant, but you can’t recolor them.

Painted finishes offer more flexibility, with a wide range of colors, tints and even matte or shine options. They’re painted first, then get a clear topcoat after the paint is dry. They’ll need regular cleaning to keep them as close to their original appearance as possible. Chrome-plated wheels also require consistent upkeep, but they don’t need a protective topcoat to combat rust. They are prone to pitting and corrosion, however, so you’ll want to keep an extra eye on them during the winter.

Next, there are bare polished and clear coated finishes. Clear coatings can be applied to painted wheels, or to raw aluminum to achieve a bare polished finish. Bare polished wheels with clear coatings don’t put extra weight on your vehicle like chrome ones, and they’re relatively easy to care for. Without any top coating, bare polished wheels require added diligence in the upkeep department to prevent pitting and oxidation.

Matte, Satin, Gloss and Mirror Finishes

Your wheels will have a base type of finish plus a certain degree of shine. You’ll generally see matte, gloss, mirror and satin options on the market. Many combinations of finish type and shine quality are possible: for instance, satin chrome or gloss black powder coating. Upkeep mostly depends on the finish style, but following recommended cleaning and care should ensure they stay attractive whether you ride through mud, snow, water, or over rocky and rugged terrain.

A Few Final Wheel Shopping Tips

Once you know your options and what you need, shopping for your next set of wheels should be easier. A key thing to remember is that a reputable off road online store will have a positive customer rating, knowledgeable customer service and a strong industry track record. For added benefit, look for a retailer with both shipping and in-store pickup options for your new set of wheels. Some stores even offer installation, so check for this feature before you buy.

About the author


Kim Lee lives in Tampa, Florida and focuses on living an intentionally happy life, helping others live better, and having a whole lot of fun. She loves to write, read, enjoy the outdoors, and play with dogs.

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