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How to Paint a Chrome Exhaust

by Jenny Carver

Most exhaust pipes are made of steel with a steel or chrome-plated finish. If the exhaust on your vehicle or bike is dull, rusted or just needs an updated look, it is possible to paint the chrome. Chrome is smooth with a glossy finish, and paint will peel and flake off of it without proper preparation. Exhaust pipes reach high temperatures, and regular paint will burn when the vehicle is driven, causing the paint to smoke. You can prepare and paint a chrome exhaust to get a lasting finish in under a day in your own driveway.

Step 1

Sand the chrome exhaust with 220-grit sandpaper. Sand all of the surface you want to paint. Paint won't adhere to the smooth chrome finish for very long; sanding gives the paint a textured surface to adhere to.

Step 2

Wipe the sanded exhaust with wax and grease remover and a microfiber cloth. Place masking tape and paper around any areas near the exhaust to keep paint overspray off of them.

Step 3

Spray a thin coat of high-heat paint on the exhaust. Move the spray can down the length of the exhaust, not around it. Let the first coat of paint dry for 15 minutes.

Apply a total of four coats of high-heat paint to the exhaust. Let each coat dry for 15 minutes between coats. Let the final coat dry for a full day before handling the exhaust.


  • Spray paint in an open or well-ventilated area.


  • Don't handle exhaust pipes that are hot. Always let the exhaust cool completely before handling it.

Items you will need

  • 220-grit sandpaper
  • Wax and grease remover
  • Microfiber cloth
  • High-heat paint

About the Author

Since 1997 Jenny Carver has served as editor and freelance writer for many offline and online publications including,, "Hoof Beat News," "Import Tuner" and others. Carver owns a custom automotive shop where she has been doing paint and body work, custom interior work and engine building for over 11 years.

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