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Ultimate Guide to Truck Wheel Finishes

Stephanie writes for 4WheelOnline. As a car enthusiast, she loves writing about anything automotive.


To say that there are several choices for truck wheels is an understatement. When you search online or visit a store to look for the perfect wheels, you will find endless options. Choosing the best rims for your truck involves a lot of research and attributes to consider. Depending on your intended use, you need to pick the suitable type of metal, size, lug pattern, spokes pattern, and weight rating. Plus, most importantly, you should choose the best-looking set to complement the look of your vehicle.

Truck wheel finishes very much contribute to the overall look of your truck. Wheel finishes pertain to the treatment done on the surface of the wheels that gives its final look. To help you narrow down your choices, equip yourself with the knowledge about aspects to consider, the different types of finishes, shine options, and various colors.

What to Consider When Choosing a Wheel Finish

  1. Use - Will you be using your truck for daily drive, off-roading, or car show? Your intended use is one of the essential considerations when picking the right wheel finish for your vehicle. Some finishes look excellent but may be easily damaged depending on your truck use majority of the time.
  2. Location - Environmental conditions affect the finish of your vehicle. Although manufacturers do their best to produce wheel finishes resistant to rust and corrosion, some may be tougher than others. You should consider if your location has ice, snow, dirt, sand, or salty air because these elements can cause damage to your truck wheel finish.
  3. Look - The wheels are like the shoes of your truck. They can make or break the entire look of your vehicle. This one is subjective and can depend on the appearance you want to achieve. Choose the wheel finish that complements the overall look of your truck.
  4. Maintenance - Wheels are subject to normal wear and tear as you use them. Of course, you'd want them to be in tip-top condition and increase their longevity. Consider the required cleaning and maintenance methods so you can keep using your wheels as long as you can. You should also note that some wheel finishes may be costlier to maintain than others.
  5. Price - There's a strong possibility you want the best looking, sturdiest, and lowest maintenance wheels there are. However, make sure to consider your budget when picking the ideal wheel finish for your needs. There are more expensive finishes than the others, depending on the process they undergo to achieve the final product.

These fundamental aspects can help you weigh the pros and cons of each set of wheels you are eyeing. Now, let's look at the different types of wheel finishes you may encounter when you explore your options.

Types of Truck Wheel Finishes


Machined wheels feature the raw alloy finish. A CNC (computerized numerical control) lathe machine scrapes off a thin layer of metal from the surface of the wheel face. This process gives the wheel face a polished finish. Additionally, machined wheels have concentric lines similar to a DVD. These lines are minuscule and barely noticeable unless you look at them closely. For added protection, a clear coat is applied on the surface. The result is a natural hazy metal appearance.

Machined wheels only have a clear coating as protection, which means they are more susceptible to damage. One of the most notable advantages of machined truck wheels is that they can be repaired easily. The truck wheels' surfaces are replenished using a lathe machine to cut the outer shell and remove the dent. This type of finish can only be replenished a limited number of times. There are also some irreparable damages depending on the severity.

Powder Coated

Powder coating is similar to painting but entails different processes and tools. It also involves adding color to the truck wheels. Instead of paint, it uses a mix of powdered pigments and polymers that require electric charges to adhere to the wheel surface. It is done using a specialized spray gun that charges the air around the pigments as they are delivered to the wheel's surface. In turn, the wheel is grounded for the color to adhere to its surface. The powder-coated wheels are baked to cure.

This type of finish produces a flexible coat and does not chip easily. Because of its durability, it is a perfect type of finish for dually wheels. These wheels are subjected to harsher road conditions. Powder-coated surfaces are more resistant to normal wear and tear, such as fading, corrosion, abrasions, or scratches. This type has a smooth finish making it easier to clean and maintain.

Paint Coated

Paint-coated truck wheels are the more traditional type. This method uses wet paint applied using a spray gun. There are countless colors to choose from when using wet paint. Plus, custom colors are more readily available with paint. Paint-coated truck wheels are also generally more affordable than powder-coated ones. It is also considerably easier and cheaper to have paint-coated wheels repaired. The finish typically has a smooth surface and rounded edges due to primer, paint, and top-coat layers. With this, it is easier to clean and polish.

Chrome Plated

Chrome plating earned its appeal from the classic mirror-like metal finish. Chrome-plated wheels give an added flashy appearance to your truck. It is the most lustrous and striking wheel -finish. Chrome-plated wheels go well with trucks having other chrome-plated parts to match.

This process uses electric currents passed through various chemical baths where the base wheel is submerged. The different metals adhere to the truck wheels forming several layers of metal plates. Chromium is one of the common metals used to cover the surface of the wheels, hence the term "chrome." The wheels are plated with nickel, copper, and chromium to produce a durable metal plate bonded to the surface. It results in a hardened chrome finish that adds to the aesthetics of the truck wheels. Chrome-plating is also effective protection from rusting and corrosion.

One of the general drawbacks of this wheel finish is the additional weight to the rims. Chrome-plating entails several layers of metal. Exposure to salt from snow, ice, or salty air in coastal areas causes corrosion on chrome.


PVD or physical vapor deposition is an emerging alternative to chrome plating. It also results in the reflective metal finish but does not involve the plating process through electrolysis. It is more similar to the powder coating, but it delivers a smooth and reflective metallic layer.

A truck wheel with PVD finish starts with primer, metallic coating in a vacuum chamber, and acrylic powder coat for the top layer for added protection. This method also uses electricity to bond the metallic coating to the base metal. As opposed to chrome plating, PVD finish produces lighter wheels. It is also more durable and more nature-friendly than chrome plating that uses harsh chemicals.


Polished wheels are similar to machined ones. The method features the appearance of raw polished aluminum or alloy rims. However, the wheels are buffed instead of machined, resulting in a semi-reflective finish. A layer of top-coat can also be applied for additional protection, or the polished surface can be left as it is.

Some truck enthusiasts prefer this type of finish for its aesthetics without the added weight from chrome plating. Since the finish is not plated, the surface of polished wheels is more susceptible to scratches, tarnishing, and normal wear and tear. However, the wheels can be repolished if they sustain minor damages.

Diamond-Cut or Laser Cut

Manufacturers generally use this type of finish for high-end wheels intended for luxury cars. The process is quite similar to machined finish wheels. First, the wheel face is painted, and some parts of the wheel face are cut in a lathe machine with precision cutters to reveal intricate patterns. The result includes a chrome-like finish with accents from the painted areas. Diamond-cut wheels can also be refurbished a few times to restore the luster of the wheel face. However, only specialty shops have the machinery to do the diamond-cut refinishing, and it costs more to maintain.


Anodized wheel finish also involves electric current to strengthen the surface of aluminum alloy wheels. Although aluminum is resistant to rust and corrosion, the material reacts to the atmosphere through oxidation. Anodizing truck wheels create a thick and strengthened metal layer on the wheel surface. The thickened layer acts as a barrier from any additional oxidation when the wheels are subjected to environmental elements. The process entails several chemical baths for the exterior to form. In this process, pigments can be added to produce colored anodized wheels. Since the procedure uses electrical bonding, the color pigments cling to the metal and do not chip or peel. These wheels need to undergo chemical stripping to refurbish the anodized finish. There are specialty shops that can do anodized wheels refurbishing.

Shine Options

Now that you have learned about the different finishes, the shine of the wheel face is another aesthetic attribute to consider when choosing the perfect truck wheels. The sheen of your truck wheels should also complement the entire look of your vehicle. Although what looks good is subjective, generally, the wheel's shine should match the other parts of your truck. On the contrary, you may choose a shine option that serves as the accent of the vehicle and does not necessarily have to match with anything else in your truck. Ultimately, the choice is still yours, and pick the one you think looks best. These are the most common shine options you can find when checking wheel and tire packages:

Matte colors are considerably unique and easily distinguished as they contrast from the commonly glossy truck paints. The matte surface is more noticeable on wheels with large flat areas or spokes. However, one thing to consider with this type of shine is that dirt, corrosion, or other imperfections seem more prominent. With this, matte truck wheels may require more maintenance to keep clean and pristine.

Glossy truck wheel finishes highly accentuate the intricate curves or patterns of the wheel. Plus, glossy wheels capture much more attention and stand out from the overall look of your vehicle. This type of finish is less susceptible to looking dirty and damaged. Glossy wheels are also generally easier to clean and keep polished.

Satin is the way to go if you want the best of both worlds between matte and glossy. Yes, this shine option is the middle ground. It is still a unique finish and yet has a subtle luster. Like with glossy finish, dirt or mineral deposits do not stick out that much compared to matte colors.

Mirror finish is your go-to if you want to add adornment to your truck. This type of shine is exceptionally lustrous and may be the first thing anyone sees on your vehicle. The surface of a mirror finish is also usually very smooth, which may help so that dirt does not adhere to it much.

Wheel Colors

The wheel color is another factor that comprises the finish. These are some of the common wheel colors you can consider for your truck.

Black - This color can give your truck a robust and modern look. However, black is not just simply black. Distinct finishes appear to be tinted with other colors if you look closely. There are black finishes that are brownish, bluish, greenish, or metallic.

Silver - The color silver gives your truck a classic look since this is the dominant color of aluminum or other alloys used for wheels.

Gold, Copper, Bronze - These color finishes usually stand out because they are unique and associated with luxury.

Custom Color - Other color finishes accentuate the wheels of your truck.

Buy From Reputable Wheel Brands and Sellers

Do not be overwhelmed with the number of choices of truck wheels in the market. You can narrow down your options if you know the factors you need to consider. It is also essential to weigh the pros and cons of each one so you can pick the set that can work best for your needs and wants. Plus, make sure to check reputable brands and sellers like 4WheelOnline. A little research may help you get rid of possible disappointments in the future.