Custom Wheels come in all different types of finishes. The three basic finishes are Chrome, Painted / Machined, and Polished.
Chrome Wheels -
Traditionally, chrome wheels are chrome plated. An aluminum wheel is first plated in copper. The wheel is then plated in nickel and finally plated in chrome. This is
because chrome will not stick directly to aluminum. Copper sticks to aluminum, nickel sticks to copper and chrome sticks to nickel.
Recently a new chrome finish has arrived. It is called PVD (Physical Vapor Deposition) Chrome. PVD Chrome is similar to a paint and is then topped with a clear coat.
This finish looks just like a traditional chrome plated wheel but it provides more durability and longevity of the finish since it is protected with a clear coat.
Tints can be applied with this finish to give other chrome like finishes such as Black Chrome. Recently, American Racing, Lorenzo, ATX Series, Moto Metal, Helo and Diamo
have all released wheels with the PVD Chrome finish.
Polished Wheels -
Polished aluminum wheels are simply aluminum wheels that have been polished to a shiny finish. Some manufacturers choose to coat their polished wheels with a clear coat
while others to no. Polished wheels that are not protected with a clear coat often require some maintenance to keep the polished finish from fading due to oxidation.
Additionally, bare aluminum wheels are more susceptible to chemical staining so be careful of what you use to clearn your wheels with.
Painted / Machined Wheels -
Painted wheels are very common but can also be very versatile. They are painted and topped with a clear coat. Almost any color is acheivable with painted wheels but most commonly you
will see Silver, Black or Gunmetal finishes. Recently, Black has become ever so popular with the custom wheel crowd and manufacturers have stepped it up by creating Satin
and Matte black finishes by using different clear coats. Some niche market manufacturers will produce wheels that are white, green, blue as well as many others but they
are typically marketed for the tuner racing crowd.
Some wheels also incorporate a Machined finish along with paint. A machined finish is acheived by cutting the face of an aluminum wheel with a special CNC machine to
achieve a bright natural metal finish. These are almost always coated with a clear coat. Wheels often combine painted and machined finishes. This is acheived first by
painting the entire wheel with the desired color and then by machining the face which leaves you with a bright machined surface where the wheel was machined and paint left
where it was not machined. The wheel is then coated with a protective clear coat.