What Is Chrome Paint?

by Tyler Lacoma

Chrome paint allows you to give an item a chrome finish without sending it somewhere for expensive chrome plating. There are many different kinds of chrome paint, and the cost can range from $10 for a can to $1,000 for a canister kit large enough to paint a car. Chrome painting is complicated and requires a clean environment, specific finishes, correct temperatures and the right equipment, including a mask to protect yourself from fumes. When you use chrome paint, you can add as many layers as you want to control how much of the background color shows through.


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Chrome paint is designed to produce a chrome, mirror-like finish when applied to various surfaces. There are many different kinds of chrome paint, and they all have different effects that can change based on how you apply it. Most chrome paints are used on cars or motorcycles. While some chrome painting is done professionally for automobiles or accessories such as tires, it also is done by amateurs because it is far less expensive than other methods.


Chrome paints usually are available in spray cans or canisters. With a spray can, you can apply the chrome finish directly, while canisters are meant to be used with spray guns or air brushes. Because of the careful finish needed, chrome paint is not stored in cans like house paint.


Some types of chrome paint are meant to be used only on vehicles or metal. The more popular brands, such as Mirrachrome, can be used on a wide variety of objects, including wood, plastic and foam. It is important to note that chrome paint will not immediately give a metal-chrome finish to any object, but will reflect in part the color of the finish already given, depending on how thickly the object is painted. This means you can apply chrome paint to objects that already are silver, black, red or other colors.


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Chrome painting is more like detailing than regular painting. You will need painting equipment, such as an air brush, along with a mask to protect yourself from fumes. To achieve the best results, cover the material with a very precise, smooth layer of finish, using several base coats and a specialized gloss that creates a glass-smooth texture. This finish is then carefully washed with distilled water to remove dust particles and placed in a clean environment free from additional dust.

The painting itself can be done in several steps. You may add one layer, wait for it to dry and then decide to add another. The more layers of chrome paint you use, the more the background color will be washed out. Professionals say you should use more than one very light coat. When each layer dries, you can brush off loose paint grains before starting the next layer.

Alternatives - Chrome Plating

If you prefer a more authentic approach, you can choose to have your vehicle professionally chromed, a process called chrome plating. This is only done to metal, and the results are intended to last for the lifetime of the part of the vehicle. Chrome plating is a much more expensive process than chrome painting and requires you to leave your vehicle with a professional for up to several days.

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