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How to paint over chrome.

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  • How to paint over chrome.

    How to paint over chrome.

    I get asked this quite a bit.

    I guess there are a few people who aren't happy with their chrome rims and want to give them a colour change.

    I have heard of Plastidip but I guess there are thousands of colours and effects available in paint that plastidip cannot provide.

    This guide is applicable when painting most bare metal surfaces. Also includes different paint types.

    **Step one. Prep**

    Using 240g Dry sandpaper, by hand or on an air or electric disc sander.
    Sand the chrome so that the gloss is completely gone. (no shine on the chrome at all.)

    Then clean with wax & grease remover on a rag. And clean again with a dry rag.

    **Step two. Primer**

    Apply an etch primer. 3 coats waiting 10 minutes between coats.

    If you are using a 2 Pack finish you will need to us a 2 Pack Etch Primer (2Pack means 2 parts, paint and hardener. Hardener is hazardous so a 2K mask is recommended at a bare minimum)


    If you are using a 1K finish you can use 1K etch primer. (Most spray cans are 1k unless the can has an activator button on it)

    **Step three. Sanding**

    Allow the etch primer to dry for at least 2hrs. Overnight is better.

    Lightly spray the primed area with a guide coat. (Any contrasting colour eg. black, white whatever)

    Using 600g wet sandpaper, sand off all the guide coat. This will ensure the whole area has been sanded and you wont get a rough finish in your final coat of paint.

    Use 800g wet if you are spraying a metallic colour.

    Fine sanding sponges are also a good option as they are more flexible for hard to reach areas.

    As a guide 1 sheet of sand paper per rim.

    Then clean with wax & grease remover on a rag. And clean again with a dry rag.

    **Step four. Paint**

    Apply 3 to 4 coats of your colour if using a spray gun.
    Apply 5 to 6 coats if using a spray can. (Most spray guns have a nozzle of 1.4mm to 2mm, spray cans are about 0.4mm so spray cans apply a lot less paint on the job.)

    Wait 10 minutes between coats. You only need to sand in between coats if you have runs or chunks in your colour coat.

    **Paint types.**

    2 Pack Solid paint.
    Available in non metallic colours only.
    A hardener must be mixed in
    Once the paint is applied it will dry with a full gloss unless a matting agent is added to it.
    Can be baked for 1hr at 30 to 40 degrees C or left over night to be touch dry.
    2 to 3 coats, 10 min between coats
    Uses a spray gun from 1mm to 1.5mm

    2 pack Base coat or COB (clear over base)
    Available in both solid and metallic colours including pearls and xirallic pearls
    No hardener is needed only thinners needs to be added.
    Once dry it will have a flat look but will be easy to scratch, mark and wont be UV resistant
    A 2 Pack or a Single pack clear coat must be applied over it.
    2 pack clear will dry with a full gloss unless a matting agent is added to it.
    Can be baked for 1hr at 30 to 40 degrees C or left over night to be touch dry.
    2 to 3 coats, 10 min between coats of base and clear should be applied.
    Uses a spray gun from 1mm to 1.5mm

    Acrylic or 1K paint.
    Available in solid & metallic colours.
    Not as much range in colour cleanliness or metallic & pearls as base coat.
    Must be mixed with acrylic thinners if using a spray gun.
    Most pre made spray cans are acrylic
    Metallic colours need an Acrylic clear coat to be applied over them.
    Solid colours, clear is optional.
    Acrylic will be touch dry in 20 min.
    It will dry with a semi gloss finish for a full gloss it must be sanded with 1500g wet sandpaper and buffed with a course cutting compound and a woolen pad by machine or hand. After a minimum of 3 days of warm weather.
    Acrylic is not as strong or durable as the 2 Pack paint. It is also not solvent/fuel resistant.
    2 to 3 coats, 10 min between coats with a spray gun
    Uses a spray gun from 1.8mm to 2mm

    Enamel Paints
    Enamel Paints are mainly used for trailers, trucks, concrete
    and machinery because it is cheap and is
    great for the jobs where the finish dosn't need to be perfect.
    You are limited to the colours that can be mixed in Enamel
    eg: no metallics or pearls Solid colours only
    There are two types of enamel paint

    1. Quick Dry Enamel - Equipment Enamel
    QD Enamel is the cheaper of the two, it is the quicker drying.
    QD Enamel also fades Quicker.

    A hardener can be used to make the paint dry stronger

    2. Automotive Enamel

    Auto Enamel is a bit more expensive, but the finish is a lot stronger
    and lasts a very long time.
    (if painted correctly)

    A Hardener can be used, the paint is only fully cured in a couple of days

    Enamel will dry with a full gloss.
    Uses a spray gun from 1mm to 1.5mm

    Hope this helps anyone who was thinking about painting.

    I heard from an Automotive trade Sales Rep that it is legal to spray 15 minutes in every hour. This makes sense as there are companies like Smart Guys and The Touch Up Guys who spray 2 Pack clear out in the open every day of the week.

    I have gathered all this information from working in an auto paints store for 10 years and asking experienced spray painters.


    Check out my website below for videos on painting.

  • #2
    Re: How to paint over chrome.

    Sweet write up man, thankyou!


    • #3
      Good on ya dave for doing that writeup! All your helpful tips in your vids is also very much appreciated and has helped me and others immensely!

      Just wondering if this is the same for shadow chrome rims or should I follow the MCM guide on how to paint rims?
      The Gypsy Cart - MagnaP.I's VR-eXec

      Originally posted by Moog
      I'd rather lose by a mile because I built my own car, than win by an inch because someone else built it for me. Your car is your story, so don't let someone else write the book.
      Buying your first car? - Click here for the guide built by MCM members.


      • #4
        Awesome write up Dave!


        • #5
          Re: How to paint over chrome.

          If the rims are painted and the paint is all chipped and rubbish then follow the mcm guide.
          If the paint is in good condition just sand with 600 and paint. If its any kind of chrome use this guide. Cheers.


          • #6
            Thanks Dave. I will be painting my rims soon and it has a rashed chrome rim :/ so will be painting that


            • #7
              Awesome write up! sounds like this is my plan for the weekend! =) as i have (chrome)silver/black rims and will need to get rid of the chrome,