Chrome Paint How To | How To Apply Chrome Paint

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The aesthetic appeal of chrome doesn’t get old quickly, which is why you may look to extend its shimmer with chrome spray paint

Contrary to a common misconception you may have encountered, chrome plating does wear off after a while. Not only do the cracks appear unsightly, the surface may begin to peel off, resulting in you having the chrome replated. 

But, you don’t have to choose the expensive option of reapplying a chrome plating. You could go for the more affordable option: painting! 

The first thing you should know about chrome is that paint doesn’t stick to the surface quickly. This is due to chrome’s tendency to rust, and to give it a longer life, manufacturers coat it with another metal to protect it from harsh weather conditions. Over time, this coat will wear off, but it will take a long while before it does. 

Before You Begin

So, before you put on your DIY gloves and get painting, consider the following tips to minimize the extra effort you may have to put in. 

1. Be Thorough And Patient

It will take two to three coats for the paint to fully stick to the chrome surface. If you aren’t careful, the paint job may end up patchy and unsightly. Take your time, don’t rush into the process. 

2. Keep Protective Gear On While Painting

Spray paint cans are not the healthiest of things due to an abundance of toxic chemicals in them. Masks, work gloves, long sleeves and protective eyewear are a must, and you should have them on while painting at all times. Though a complete set of protective gear is recommended, having your limbs and digits fully covered with ordinary clothing is advised at the very least. 

3. Choosing The Right Kind Of Paint

You’ll need paint with high adhesive quality to properly coat the chrome. Certain kinds of paint also require the surface to be primed and so, you will need to purchase a can of paint primer as well. 

Latex metal and automotive enamel paints net the best finish when painting chrome. They dry fairly quickly, and the finish is even and consistent across curves and flat surfaces. Just be careful with latex metal paints as they chip easily as a tradeoff. As for the primer, there are automotive metal primers that work in tandem with latex metal paint for maximum efficiency. 

4. What You’ll Need

In addition to paint and primer, you will need the right tools suited for painting chrome, such as: 

  • Paint brushes or rollers
  • Spray paint can or spray gun
  • Plastic sheets to protect non-chrome surfaces
  • Painter’s tape
  • Clean rag or paper towel
  • Soap
  • Sandpaper
  • Protective gear
  • Liquid metal filler

With these instruments in your arsenal, you will be ready to start painting away.

How To Paint Chrome

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1. Preparing The Chrome

While you can start painting right away, the result might end up uneven with blemishes. This is because the metal surface requires a lot of prep work before it is ready to be painted on. 

You can take a few preliminary steps to properly prepare the chrome object so that the finished paint job is something to be proud of.

A. Cleaning The Chrome

The most important part of the preparation process is to ensure that the metal is free of dirt and debris. Use soapy water and a soft sponge to wipe away any lingering excess particles from the metal and make it ready to be repaired.

Feel free to use soft brushes and dusters to access all the nooks and crannies of the metal.

B. Sanding The Surface

Sanding helps the paint adhere to the metal better. You can choose to use a handheld sander or simply sand the metal manually. If your chrome surface is large, you may want to pick the former instead.

Keep 160-grit and 320-grit sandpapers at the ready and switch between the two to dull the surface into a scratch-free one. Note that finer sandpaper will net you the smoothest finish. Wipe the excess sand out, and you’re done.

C. Touching Up The Cracks And Dents

By utilizing a liquid metal filler, you can even out the cracks in your metal. You can apply it without any trouble, simply squeeze the material into the gap and even it out with a flat card-like instrument. This will repair the chrome and make it ready to be painted on once the filler has dried.

As for the dents, you can employ a little elbow grease and use a mallet to even the surface out. Remember to be careful, as stray strikes from your mallet can lead to the dents becoming worse than they were before.

2. Prime The Chrome

A primer acts as a clean slate for your paint to shine on. If you neglect applying rust-inhibiting primer to your chrome, you’ll need more coats of paint than necessary to finish the job. Not only would it take longer, but it would also be a hefty strike to your wallet.

An automotive metal primer makes it so that the paint job doesn’t have any cracks or bubbling after application. At most, you’ll need a couple of coats of paint to have an even finish.

To apply a primer on your metal, use a spray gun or spray paint can. It’s a good practice to keep your distance from the surface you’re painting to avoid inhaling the fumes of these spraying tools. Keep your hands steady and spray primer in a slow and steady manner.

Alternatively, you can go for the old-fashioned brush-and-roller combo. With these, the chances of missing a spot are fairly low, and you’ll only need to apply light coats of the primer.

3. Paint Chrome With Spray Paint

You may be wondering: can you use spray paint over chrome? The answer’s a resounding ‘yes’! 

Using a spray paint can or a spray gun, apply light coats of paint on the chrome. It will take several hours for it to dry properly before you can apply the next coat. If you’ve primed the metal properly, you’ll need two to three layers of paint for a proper finish.

When painting chrome, naturally, you will want an even finish. Just as you did with the primer, keep your hands steady and move it in a rhythmic, slow manner.

You can paint the surface manually with brushes and rollers. The working philosophy behind these tools remains the same as primers: apply light layers and allow hours of drying time.

4. Apply A Sealer

You can optionally opt to coat the painted chrome with a layer of sealer. Sealers are clear fluids that do not affect the painted surface look in any manner. What they do is stop the applied paint from chipping or bubbling after the paint job is finished, giving the paint a long life.

Use your painting tools to apply the sealer to your chrome and allow it to set for a week. You can use a buffing cloth to buff the surface, and your metallic surface will be ready to be used again.

Chrome Painting: What You Should Know

Here are a few quality-of-life tips to paint chrome for a smoother working experience and a longer life for the paint job.

1. Keep An Eye On Sandpaper Grit

A heavy grit sandpaper will ensure a smoother sanded finish. The 320-grit sandpaper offers the finest finish, while sanding with 160-grit sandpaper will make the entire surface coarse. Ideally, you should use both and switch from the lower grit to the higher one for a clean, smooth finish.

You can also use a 240-grit sandpaper for dulling the chrome and have an end result that is somewhere between the 160- and 320-grit sandpapers.

2. Shake The Spray Paint Can Frequently

Before and during use, you should remember to shake your spray paint vigorously. This emulsifies the propellant in the can into the liquid and stops an uneven expulsion of the paint.

The simple practice of shaking your spray paint can will vastly improve your paint job, leading to a cleaner, even finish

3. Rollers Apply Paint Faster Than Brushes

If you don’t have access to a spray paint can and are thinking of painting chrome manually, you may save a lot of time by using a paint roller. Rollers are, in essence, sponges that distribute a consistent coat of paint much faster than paint brushes!

You’ll cover a larger area with a paint roller and do it faster than a paintbrush. But that’s not all; a paint roller has the added benefit of leaving no visible strokes after a coat. You can’t go wrong with picking a roller as your preferred painting tool.

4. A Paint Job Causes A Mess

The process of painting is messy and leaves splashes of pigment outside of the desired areas. To avoid this, use a roll or two of painter’s tape and cover up every inch of the area around the painting surface. When removing the tape, you should keep a close eye on the surface it sticks to, so as to avoid leaving any undesired marks.

You can also opt to place newspapers on the floor around your chrome. Dropping paint is an inevitable part of the painting process and it will save you from scrubbing every splotch of paint from your floor.

Latex Metal Paint Vs Automotive Enamel Paint

Chrome paint how to 3

You will likely choose one one of the two most effective at adhering to chrome: latex metal paint or automotive enamel paint. But, which one should you? Which offers a better finish, and which is more cost-effective? Let’s compare these paints briefly.

1. Finish

Enamel paint is more specialized in this criterion, providing a consistent glossy finish that breathes in a new life to your chrome. It resists stains and is easy to clean if it drops on the floor. If you’re painting over chrome bumpers, you may want to pick automotive paint for its durability.

Latex metal paint has a wider range of finishes, ranging from a flat finish to something fancier, such as matte or eggshell. You are free to experiment with these finishes and find what suits your fancy. Owing to its water base, latex paint is easier to clean while being very durable.

2. Drying Time

Enamel paints can take up to eight hours to dry, due to their oil base and thicker coat. Longer drying time enables easier manipulation of the color, though it might hinder your painting process if the surface you’re painting has to be used sooner.

Latex paints typically dry out within a couple hours. You can quickly apply a second coat as well, unless you need to use the surface immediately. 

3. Health Impacts

Enamel paints are oil-based paints that emit fumes during application. Inhaling these fumes may have a negative impact on your health. If you opt for enamel paints, be careful of their fumes and pungent odor. You should wear protective gear at all times when applying it.

On the other hand, latex paints are generally safer and emit lower amounts of toxic fumes. The odor is tolerable; however, you should put your protective gear to use anyways.

4. Cost

Enamel paints have seen a decline in recent years because of the rise of better and more affordable options. These are costly and will set you back significantly if used in bulk.

Latex metal paints are, on the whole, more affordable, more readily available at a paint store, and offer a better finish for a fraction of the cost. It makes them more desirable than their enamel competitor.

5. Overall Winner

In smaller quantities, you may find enamel paints adhering to the chrome surface efficiently and without any inconsistencies. However, due to its versatility and excellent finish, you may wish to consider latex paint as your preferred pick to paint chrome.

Chrome Paint How To Frequently Asked Questions ?

How do I make paint look like chrome?

Typically, you can have your metal chrome plated again. Doing so yourself may prove to be difficult and seeking professional aid would be the better option. 

The other approach you may consider is to use chrome paint to achieve a faux chrome look- something that isn’t quite there but looks like it. These specialized paints will coat your metal surface very easily, making it look like real chrome

Can I paint over chrome bumpers?

It’s technically possible but isn’t advised for several reasons. There’s no way of reliably telling if paint will stick to it. The surface requires a lot of preparation before it is even ready to be painted. The better alternative is to replace the bumper with a steel one, which can be painted on with no troubles. 

The working muffler of a modern motorcycle. Chrome paint how to conclusion.

Chrome Paint How To Conclusion

The bottom line is, though paint cannot replicate the look of chrome, it is the next best thing. You’ll find the only other alternative is replating chrome onto the surface, which is not only difficult, but it also requires professional help. 

Painting chrome needs patience and tenacity. The process is long and hard to execute, but the result speaks for itself. Paint forms a protective layer over the shiny metal, extending its life by a significant degree. Your chrome-plated surfaces will look as good as new for a long time. 

If you like our article about paints, you can checkout our previous article on marble acrylic paints to get intrigued.

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