So some have probably seen my thread where I used a product called "Plasti-Dip" to finish my wheels and also the grille emblem on my pickup in a matte black. I thought I would post a short how-to for those of you looking to make your truck a little more unique on a tighter budget.
First I'll start off with a how to on Plasti-Dipping the stock aluminum wheels.
2 Spray Cans Plasti-Dip (Black) (Find at Home Depot, Menards, Ace Hardware, CarQuest)
1 Bottle Eagle 1 Aluminum Wheel Cleaner (Any automotive store, found mine at CarQuest)
1 Microfiber Towel or Soft Rag
1 Roll of Masking Tape
1. Tire Iron
Time Required: Approximately 45 Minutes to 1 Hour Per Wheel
Alright so once you've got all of your stuff together get ready to get to work. It obviously doesn't matter what order you go in. If you have a big enough jack you can jack up one side of your vehicle and do two wheels at a time to save a ton of time. I just used the scissor jack that came with my truck so it was a bit more tedious doing one wheel at a time.
First you should remove whichever wheel you are planning on doing first. Once you have the wheel completely off it's time to lay it down and to clean the wheel to make it free of any dust, dirt, grime, or debris. This is where the wheel cleaner and rag or towel comes in. Spray the wheel down thoroughly and use the rag to wipe the wheel completely clean of any kind of grime. Once the wheel is completely clean and dry you can move on the masking off the back of the wheel.
Use your masking tape to mask off anything you don't want to plasti-dip. the holes in the wheels, the center cap, etc... Once you have this all done you are ready to get to spraying. Get your can of Plasti-Dip and shake it for a good minute to a minute and a half. Once it's ready you are ready to begin spraying. Remember Plasti-Dip is forgiving so if you make a mistake you can let it dry, peel it off, and respray but it doesn't run very much if at all so you shouldn't really have any mistakes.
Begin spraying with the nozzle about 4" from the surface of the wheel. Make sure you are applying an even coat. Don't stay in one area for too long. With the first coat just make sure you are coating the entire wheel pretty evenly using a nice side to side motion. Once you've applied one even coat, step away and let the plasti-dip dry for approximately 10-15 minutes. Once the time has elapsed you may apply a second coat in the same manner as the first. Make sure you are covering the harder to reach spots and applying a good even coat. Again don't stay in one area for too long, use a nice side to side or back and forth motion when coating the wheel.
Let the second coat dry and then apply your third coat in the same fashion. You may do a fourth if you feel it necessary but I did three on mine. Let the last coat dry for approximately 20 minutes or so. Check the wheel to make sure it is dry. If it looks wet then let the wheel dry longer as needed. Once it looks completely dry and satisfactorily coated then place the wheel back onto the vehicle.
This process is the same for all wheels. So I won't go into any more detail. Don't be worried about overspray on your tires you can peel it off or rub it off with a rag, and a little bit of elbow grease. Likely it will come off on it's own as tires expand and contract with different temperatures. If you made a mistake you can simply peel the Plasti-Dip off by working at the edge of it with your fingernails. For good measure don't wash your vehicle for 24 to 48 hours after doing this. Give the plasti-dip time to completely dry and if possible leave your vehicle in the sunlight.
For reference a couple of youtube videos. One showing how to apply and one showing how to remove plasti-dip.
PLASTI-DIPPING/PAINTING THE GRILLE EMBLEM
1 Can Plasti-Dip Spray Black (Or use leftovers from doing wheels)
1 Can Spray Paint of Your Choice
Time Required: Approximately 1 Hour or Longer
Alright this is another relatively simple job that can make your truck stand out a little bit. The Grille emblem is very easy to remove. Simply pop your hood and you can reach down and get at it through the space where the hood latches. There are about 4-5 tabs that you just need to unlatch so the emblem can come out.
The emblem itself is two pieces. The black background is one piece and the Ram's head and border are one piece. There are two little tabs on the inside of the black background piece that hold it together with the Ram head. It takes a little work to get it apart and be careful not to be too rough and break the tabs. The black piece has obviously lines where it folds towards the center so use your thumbs to push the piece out carefully from the front part of the emblem.
Once you have the two pieces separated you are ready to prep them. Make sure you clean both pieces throughly. I used some dish soap and water.
You do not need to sand for Plasti Dip. Simply put the Ram's head piece down on some old newspapers and coat it in the same fashion you did the wheels. Do a few layers allowing drying time between each layer. Make sure not to be overly ambitious and overcoat it. Make sure it is completely dry before handling the piece. If you need to move it while it's still kind of wet pick up from underneath the edges.
If you are painting the background section you have a couple of options. If you are planning on painting it to match your truck you will likely need to lightly sand the plastic surface so your paint can adhere to it. If you are going to paint it another color Krylon makes a gloss plastic paint that does not require sanding.
The Krylon Paint can be purchased from Wal-Mart. The actually name is Krylon Fusion. It is a gloss paint that is meant to be adhered to plastic surfaces and requires no sanding.
If you would like to match the color of your truck try Duplicolor Perfect Match for your background. You will need to sand with regular paint.
Spray the background the same way you did the Ram's head. Allow time for the paint to properly dry and when everything is dry put the pieces back together and reinstall you're newly painted emblem back into your grille.
The Pros of Plasti Dip:
Can be taken through the car wash.
Protects the wheels form road grime, and salt during the winter.
Nice matte black finish.
Easy to Remove.
Can get chipped by rocks.
I've actually had about 4 people ask me if I powder coated my wheels. Seems not very many people have heard of Plasti-Dip and it can't be too shabby if it's being mistaken for a good powder coating job.
Here are a couple of links to other threads. One is my thread so you can get an idea of what the wheels and emblem will look like, and the other is by Eric99Ram who also did his emblem in addition to the crosshair in his grille.