Can You Paint Tires? (Paint Types, Damage, Lettering + More)

Whether you just bought a new car or looking to spruce up your current ones, knowing the best customization techniques is essential to avoid damaging your tires.

Painting has become one of the most popular ways to personalize vehicles and give the car a fresh look. But, can you paint tires? Here’s all you need to know.

Can You Paint Tires?

Tires can be painted to your favorite color, but you need to have the right kind of paint. The type of paint you use depends on the painting job you want to undertake. Some of the options include acrylic and exterior color. You have to be careful not to use actual paint to avoid deforming your sidewall, even when lettering.

For more information about how to paint tires, the type of paint to use, lettering tires, and any negative impact, read on!

How Can You Paint Tires?

Most drivers spruce up their tires by lettering them or adding another color to make them look different and sporty.

When the tires are old, car owners also paint them for decoration to get a different look, especially if they want to convert them into colorful planters, lawn art, or playground swings.

So, if you want to paint your tires, you’ll need to choose the type of paint depending on whether you want to tire lettering or add a different color to your rims.

But how do you do it? This is a common question among most car owners.

Before you start painting, you need to know that using actual paint is a bad idea. If you use this, the sidewalls will deform, and the paint will break off and crack as soon as you hit a pothole or bump.

If you are making a planter or tree swing, here’s a step-by-step process to use when painting your old tires.

Wash The Tire

For the paint to adhere to the tire, clean the tire thoroughly with soap and water to remove any dirt and grease. You can also use a non-toxic degreaser to remove tougher grime.

When cleaning, ensure you also remove the dirt on the treads and let the tire dry overnight.

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Prime The Tires

Once the tires are dry, use a spray primer to prime them, which helps the paint stick on the tire.

Paint The Tire

Depending on the type of painting you want to do, choose non-toxic and durable paint and carry out the painting in a well-ventilated space or outdoors.

You can choose to either use a brush or spray paint until the tire is completely covered. Because the tire is black, it could take several layers of color to complete the job, especially when using lighter colors.

Add Details

If you need to add any more details, use acrylic paint because it can withstand outdoor elements.

Types Of Paint To Use On Tires

Types Of Paint To Use On Tires

Rubber makes up the most of the tire; therefore, when painting, you need to use paint that works well with rubber materials.

Before you start painting, it’s essential to get paint that will be the most durable on your tire.

Here are the options to choose from.

Acrylic Paint

Acrylic paint is suitable for your tires if you are making art and craft items to be used in an indoor space.

While this paint has a durable and elegant look, it wears out fast if the item is being constantly moved and touched. If the item is frequently used, the paint will crack and peel off quickly.

For your tires, you can add about two coats of paint and then add a paint sealer. On the other hand, you can use the enamel version of acrylic paint, which lasts longer and maintains the same appearance.

Removable Rubber Coating

If you plan to remove the paint or change it to another color, consider using removable rubber coating.

However, this doesn’t mean that the paint is not durable; it remains stuck on the tire and will not peel until you decide to remove it or paint on top.

If you are looking for this rubber coating, it’s readily available in most hardware stores, it’s easy to apply, and gives your tire an elegant finish.

Commercial-Grade Marine Paint

If you want paint that’s durable, especially on your tire letters, consider using commercial-grade marine paint.

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To know how effective this paint is, it’s used on swimming pools, yachts, and boats, and it doesn’t peel off when exposed to lots of water.

When you use this paint on your tires, you are less likely to get any peeling or cracking because it’s weatherproof and can survive most extreme conditions.

In addition, the paint is strong enough to survive any form of damage without needing extra protection, such as a primer or a sealant.

Exterior Paint

This non-toxic paint is recommended for objects that are constantly exposed to weather elements; therefore, it is very reliable and long-lasting.

If your tires will be mostly outside, this paint is much better than acrylic and removable paints because it can withstand rain, snow, wind, and sun exposure.

To increase the durability of this paint, add a primer and leave it to dry before adding an extra layer of paint.

Is Paint Bad For Tires?

Is Paint Bad For Tires?

Due to the chemical composition of paint, most car owners question whether the paint will ruin their tires, especially the rubber compound and rims.

Painting tires is okay and won’t ruin your tires as long as you use the correct type of paint and handle the process correctly.

However, if you use the wrong paints or process, it will eventually chip off and peel away after some time. Therefore, you need to be careful about your choice of paint.

How Do You Use Paint When Lettering Your Tires?

If you are looking to personalize your tires and transform your car’s appearance, you can simply color the lettering on your tire sidewalls.

Before beginning the process, you need to cover the parts you don’t want to touch paint and get the supplies ready.

Although most tire companies use tire lettering on their brands, you can personalize it according to your preference.

Most car owners will paint either white or yellow using a tire paint pen or tire paint marker.

While these markers have been used for decades, they can be messy and leave you with a lot of paint on your hands and clothes; therefore, some companies have introduced a rubber tire lettering kit.

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You’ll need oil point markers, tire cleaner, cleaning rags, paper towels, or cardboard for the lettering process.

Here’s the step-by-step process.

Remove The Tire

You’ll need to remove the tire to begin the process.

Clean Up The Tire

Using a cleaning liquid, scrub off the tire to remove any dust particles on the tire surface or the specific area you want to paint the letters.

Once the target area starts looking dull, it’s free from any oily residue, and you can now wipe with a rag until it’s dry.

Prepare The Paint Marker’s Tip

Shake the marker well and pump the tip on the paper towels or cardboard until the paint starts to come out and it’s well saturated.

Color The Letters

Using the marker, color the letters starting with the center parts as you carefully outline them with the tip of the marker.

Touch Up

Afterward, you can touch up any spots you might have left and leave them to dry. However, if you need a bolder and brighter look, you can top up another layer.

Can You Spray Paint Letters On Tires?

Can You Spray Paint Letters On Tires?

Spray painting is an effective way of painting tires; however, it can be quite messy and extend outside the outline when it comes to lettering.

If you spray, you might end up with paint on the other parts of the tire, even if you are careful. Therefore, it’s much better to use specific markers which you can control using a tip.

To know more, you can also read our posts on whether or not donut tires fit all cars, how are tires recycled, and if tires float in water.


Painting tires is possible as long as you use the correct type of paint and pay attention to how durable the paint is.

You can paint your tires to redecorate them as crafts after you are done using them on your car or to spruce up your lettering.

When lettering, you need to use specific markers to draw out the outline on your tire sidewall without causing a mess.

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