Is It Possible To Get a Brushed Nickel Paint Finish Effect on Wheels?

Ooo this is a great question! Wheels are metal and brushed nickel is metal, therefore it must be a breeze to create a metal-finish effect on an-already metal surface, right? Ahem, if only it were that simple!

Brushed nickel is a very specific finish. It is not simply a paint finish - it is a combination of an actual surface texture and a very specific combination of metals.

The brushed nickel products you buy from stores (door handles, faucets, etc) are generally made of a blend of copper, zinc and nickel, whereas the more-common stainless steel is composed of 10.5% to 28% chromium, iron, and carbon. The particular combination of metals used to create brushed nickel results in a beautiful warm/cool metal finish that complements any color scheme.

To create the texture of brushed nickel, manufacturers use a wire brush or a similar brushing tool to create small, consistent grooves in the metal. Obviously, it would be far too labor-intensive to have a clan of dedicated, permanently hunched-over workers systematically wire-brushing forty thousand interior door handles by hand, so manufacturers create the same effect using specialist machines. 

So can this process be replicated in a custom wheel finish? The combination of metals specific to brushed nickel can’t be used for a wheel, for fairly obvious reasons - the resulting wheel would be far too soft and vulnerable to basically anything hitting it. Think pothole damage on steroids. It would only have to look at a curb to be scratched.

Which means the only way to recreate the color part of brushed nickel is with paint. This is the (relatively) easy part - professional automotive paint colors are available in virtually every color under the sun and are often blendable, so a highly-skilled wheel artist (like those at Salt City Wheels in Utah) can usually match a color with a high degree of accuracy. 

The difficult part comes when you try to recreate the texture of brushed nickel. Because vehicle wheels clearly need to be made from heavy-grade, bend-resistant metals, those same qualities make them insanely difficult to work with. It’s one thing to grind back raised areas from wheel damage, and quite another to create a uniform, deliberate texture on the same metal surface. Remember, manufacturers of brushed nickel products are working with a blend of relatively soft metals, so their efforts with a wire brush or similar machining process yield a uniform texture with relative ease. Try wire brushing a solid iron wheel and you can say goodbye to your life for a couple of years. 

There are a few sneaky, artistic ways of recreating a brushed nickel-esque effect, but as you can see from the above processes, these are not consistent and are extremely labor-intensive. The best way to recreate a nickel effect on your wheels is to use a nickel paint. The experts at Salt City Wheels have been working with professional-grade automotive paints for eons (relatively) and if it’s a nickel finish you’re after, our skilled wheel repair and finish technicians will be able to advise you on the best way to accomplish your custom finish. 

Give Salt City Wheels a call today at 801 425 3044 to schedule your FREE consultation!