How To Repaint Your Tire’s Worn Or Faded Raised Lettering

If your own a tire with raised lettering that has lost its white appearance, then you can restore the original look by repainting the worn-down letters. However, successfully repainting rubber requires you to use the right paint and to properly prepare the surface of the tires. Below is what you will need as well as a list of tools and materials to get the job done right:

Repainting white lettering on tires - Tools and materials needed

  • Exterior water-based primer - Be sure to choose a high-quality primer with a light-color base to make the job easier; dark-colored primers may require you to coat them several times with white paint.

  • Exterior water-based latex paint - Don't skimp on paint quality for this project, especially since you will only need a pint of paint. Cheap paints will not adhere for the long-term and are prone to flaking or chipping.

  • Petroleum jelly - Avoid using medicated formulas and buy plain, pure petroleum jelly instead.

  • Cotton swabs

  • Isopropyl rubbing alcohol - Purchase as high a concentration as you can find from a pharmacy; high concentrations will be more effective and evaporate quickly.

  • Trisodium phosphate powder - This multi-purpose cleaning agent can be bought from the paint supplies section of most home improvement stores; be sure to avoid substitute formulations of trisodium phosphate since they don't work as well.

  • Garden hose with spray nozzle

  • Rubber gloves

  • Stirring stick

  • Bucket

  • Stiff-bristled, plastic brush

  • Paper towels

  • Sponge

Repainting white letter on tires - Step-by-step procedure

1. Remove and properly position the tire - It is difficult to repaint a tire while it is in a vertical position still mounted on the car, so be sure to remove it before beginning. Once you remove the tire, move it to a flat, well-lit surface where you can perform the cleaning and repainting work.

2. Thoroughly clean the tire to remove debris and all chemical contaminants - After the getting the tire off the vehicle and onto a flat surface, rinse it with a garden hose spray nozzle to remove all loose debris. Next, mix one cup of trisodium phosphate (TSP) powder into an empty bucket with one gallon of warm water and thoroughly stir the contents until the TSP is dissolved. Be sure to wear rubber gloves when working with TSP, since it can cause skin irritation with prolonged exposure.

Once the TSP solution is mixed, apply it to the surface of the tire with a sponge until the tire is saturated; allow the solution to soak into the tire for several minutes to loosen grease and oils from the rubber. Next, scrub the tire with a stiff-bristled, plastic brush to remove the grease and oils as well as any other ingrained debris, then rinse it clean with the hose to remove all traces of TSP and contaminants.

The last preparation step is to clean the surface of the worn lettering with rubbing alcohol. Soak the end of a cotton swab in alcohol and rub the raised lettering. This will create an extra-clean surface for the primer and extend the lifespan of the paint job. Allow the tire to air dry for several hours before moving to the next step.

3. Apply petroleum jelly to protected areas - Before priming the raised letters, you need to apply a thin layer of petroleum jelly to the areas immediately surrounding the letters. This will prevent errant primer and paint from adhering to the other parts of the tire's surface and provide a much cleaner appearance. Dip the end of the cotton swab into a container of petroleum jelly and wipe away any excess on the lip of the container. Then, slowly and carefully coat the areas around the lettering, being careful not to allow the petroleum jelly to get on top of the lettering. Remove blobs of petroleum jelly with a clean cotton swab.

4. Prime and paint the raised lettering - After you have applied the petroleum jelly, you can safely prime and paint the letters. Dip the end of a clean cotton swab into the primer container and blot away any excess primer on a paper towel. Slowly move the cotton swab surface across the raised lettering to apply the primer. Be careful to avoid drips and blobs of primer, and quickly remove any excess primer with a clean cotton swab. Once you are done priming the raised letters, allow the primer to fully dry for 24 hours before proceeding.

Once the primer has been applied and dried, apply the exterior latex paint by following the same steps used with the primer. Again, work slowly and deliberately, and avoid using too much paint at one time. Allow the paint to dry to the touch, then apply additional coats as needed. Permit the paint to dry for at least 24 hours once you are finished.

After the paint has dried, you can remove the petroleum jelly by wiping it away with a cotton swab soaked in rubbing alcohol or by using paper towels. Reinstall the tire on the car, and avoid washing the car or tires for at least a week to permit the paint plenty of time to cure. For more information, contact a company like Collier Goodyear Car Care Center.