Tips on Masking Tires for Rim Painting

by Jenny Carver

Rims can become scratched, scuffed, dented or gouged over time. The price of a new set of rims can be in the thousands, so that may not be an option for everyone looking for nice rims. The best alternative is to paint your rims, which can make them look brand new again. But something most people don't think about is protecting the tires from paint and overspray.


Painting rims and avoiding overspray on the tires is done much easier if they are removed from the vehicle. Remove the rims from the vehicle and lay them flat on the ground on top of old newspaper or drop cloth. Before making any needed repairs to the rims, the tires should be protected from any sanding or body filler that will be used on the tires.

Masking the Tires

Use thick automotive masking tape to begin masking the tires. Hold an eight inch piece of tape, sticky side facing up and lay it on the tire next to the edge of the rim. Carefully press the tape against the underside edge of the rim so that it sticks to the rim, not the tire. Tape does not stick to the rubber on tires very well so it must be stuck to the rim. Once the first piece of tape is in place, continue this same method around the entire edge of the rim until it is completely surrounded with masking tape. Once the tape covers all edges of the rim, place the edge of the masking paper on the sticky side of the tape that is facing up. Place the edge of the paper in the middle of the exposed sticky area on the tape so that some of the sticky surface of the tape is still exposed. Once the paper is placed all the way around the rim and covers all of the tire, place another piece of tape on the paper. Place the tape directly on to the line where the paper meets the exposed sticky tape that is already in place. This seals the paper to the tape and keeps any paint or overspray from getting under the edge of the paper. This is called "back taping."

Repairing and Painting the Rims

Once the rims have been repaired and are ready for paint, the masking tape and paper may need to be replaced with new materials. If the tape and paper are covered in sanding dust they will need to be replaced completely so dust doesn't end up in the wet paint on the rims. Remove the tape and paper and replace it using the same steps as before.


About the Author

Since 1997 Jenny Carver has served as editor and freelance writer for many offline and online publications including,, "Hoof Beat News," "Import Tuner" and others. Carver owns a custom automotive shop where she has been doing paint and body work, custom interior work and engine building for over 11 years.

More Articles