Wanting a new and innovative look for your beloved car? Make it look brighter, more high class and fancier with the spray chrome paint.
Here are all what you need to know about paints, what is it, the reason people love to use it, how to coat your car with it, and safety notes when using this metallic paint.
What is Chrome Paint?
Chromium is a metal element that has a beautiful reflective surface that is like a front face of a mirror. Chrome is a plating technique, creating a chemical reaction on the surface that you applied to produce a mirror-like finish.
On the other hand, chrome effect paint is a liquid that contains thin metal flakes. It mimics perfectly the reflective and shining look of chromium. The extra adhesive allows the shining surface without sanding.
There is also another kind of chrome effect paint. This paint works based on a chemical reaction of silver nitrate and reduces agency on the metal surface to create the reflection, like how a front of a mirror is produced.
Depending on the kinds of chrome paint and where you applied it, you can have various looks. You can see the application of chrome paint on various everyday items like motorbike trim, cars, and parts in industrial or household machines.
There are chrome spray cans and canisters. If you want a convenient choice of applying the paint directly, you should opt for the spray can. But for wide panels of an automobile or small detail, chrome paint in canisters that is a wise and economical choice.
Why Should You Use Chrome Paint?
The bright, glossy, and reflective like mirror look of the chrome paint finish always attracts attention. It gives objects a new and high-class look, which is why it is the favorite paint for many automobiles, from old to modern ones.
Chrome paint does not only give a shining look for the objects but also protect the surface and metal from being scratched. It is a durable coat against weather, scratch, and salinization that is not decomposed easily.
Easy to Use
While chrome plating is a difficult process that requires expertise. The chrome spray paint is the most suitable for the beginners. Easy to apply with fewer steps and can be used on many surfaces, chrome spray paint has become the choice for many DIYers.
The paint can adhere to metal, glass, even plastic, wood, and foam and be applied to many layers on the surface to create a thick protective coat.
It is also a more cost wise alternative to the other methods like the expensive electroplating that produces the same quality finish and adhesion.
Plus, chromium is harmful and contains toxic, so this alternative is a better choice for an aesthetic look, safety process, and environmental concerns.
Comparing to Chromium Plating
There is a slight problem with the light reflection, however, when using spray chrome paint. You need to be careful when spraying because it depends on different surfaces, how you spray it that the final products can look different.
It does not have an immediate chrome look effect, but you need to mix it with other colors like silver, black to allow the reflective effect stand out. The layer should also be thick enough.
But it is a process that you can learn how to make it better over time once you get used to it. And compared to the original chromium plating, it is still more of a gain that worth considering.
The Pros When Using Chromium Plating:
- Chrome plating, or also known as electroplating, is the process of using an actual chromium plate. It is not corroded or oxidized, and is resistant to extreme weather conditions and harsh temperature.
- When it is scratched or damaged, it is easy to be fixed and applied. This can save you a fortune for replacing new parts (of cars or fixtures). The restored parts would look identical like new.
- It can also be used in many applications like household items in the bathroom, kitchen, etc. With the original, authentic looks of actual chrome, people still may prefer it over other substitutes. Plus, you don’t need to protect or take care of the material.
These are the advantages of electroplating, but it isn’t a huge difference compared to the spray chrome paint.
The Cons When Using Chromium Plating:
- This technique is complicated, and only the specialized companies about this technique can perform it.
- The chemicals in electroplating are rated as highly toxic and must be regulated heavily by the US government.
- Since this involves plating, it would take much more time and thus more money than using spray on chrome.
- The technique also requires plated parts to be dipped in vats, so the area to be plated is limited or taken apart.
- The coat is not uniform. The thicker the coat, the less it resists to corrosion.
These cons have outweighed the pros, making chromium plating become a less favorite choice of many DIYers.
How to Spray Chrome Paint on Cars
Before you apply the paint, you should prepare the station where you work and on the car surface as well. The chrome spraying should be done in a strict condition with enough humidity (50% or less) and at the right temperature (70-100 Fahrenheit).
Secondly, for the best effect, the surface of the car has to be cleaned (free of grease, wax, oil, dust, or rust) and smooth. And lastly, you need to remember the three steps:
- Prime to smooth the surface
- Spray the chrome effect paint, a clear paint with metal flakes to produce the chrome-like look
- Apply a hard clear coat to protect the chrome mimicking layer from erode
After the surface is air dried, you need to wipe away the residual on the surface that you applied chrome paint with solvent. Then wash the old gloss paint with a solution of hot detergent mixed with water, or wet sand and polish the surface.
It is recommended to go down to bare metal to have the best look. However, to keep the surface as smooth as possible, and thus a uniform reflective effect, you shouldn’t scuff the residues on the surface.
To chrome paint even brighter, a black coat to contrast with the aluminum flakes is recommended. This colored base coat should be gloss, solvent resistant like the 2KA and 2KB urethane clear, applied by a spray gun set at 60-70 psi.
You also need to make sure that the paint covers all the parts you intended to have the chrome effect and it is air dried for about a day before moving on to the next step.
The paint sprayer recommended is the HVLP with a small nozzle of about 0.8 to 1 mm. An area about 2 inches wide should be enough to create a fine light coat.
You should apply many layers of chrome paint to make sure the paint is well adhered and covers all the parts. It’s highly advisable to wait for at least 2 hours between each coating. Brush off the drip paints after it is dried, and repeat the process.
After each coating, you can wipe the surface gently, using no hand pressure, with a clean, dry, and microfiber towel to dry it faster and improve the shining effect.
You can also speed this drying time by using compressed air. It is not only necessary to dry but also to create a metal reaction of the chemicals in the chrome paint. Just make sure the air is not contaminated with dust or any other particles that can ruin the finish look.
Note that the more the coat of chrome, the less background color you will see, so you need to decide how much you want your car to gloss. Too much or too little paint would make it look dull, so it is advisable to stop when you see the full opacity.
Safety Precaution When Using Chrome Paint
While chrome mimicking paint is not as volatile as chromium, which has toxic elements that can cause cancer, it doesn’t mean that it is safe to use without proper protection.
The fumes and hazards from all paints in general and chrome paints in specific can lead to allergies, cough, asthma, lung cancer, and even nervous system malfunction.
Always put on the eye protective wear to keep the fumes, dusted air, and small particles hazards into your eyes. A pair of goggles with a flexible rubber band that gives your head a soft feeling but still fits tightly is highly recommended.
Chrome paint is one of the most popular choices for a shiny look of the automobile. The paint can be applied on many materials as long as you keep the surface smooth with few pores.
The paint does not contain chromium but gives the same look, producing a reflective effect like a mirror. People prefer it to the actual things because it is safer for commercial use and easier to apply, even for the non-experts.
I am a licensed architect who is passionate about all things home improvement industries, I have been doing DIY painting projects and have developed lots of experience around home improvement over the 10 years.