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"Chrome-look" paint

  Gold Touch  J G Nikolas  M and M Metallizing

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Q. I am looking for an over-the-counter spray paint that approximates a chrome finish as much as can be expected. I am finishing a small 4" x 4" metal part.

Thanks in advance...

David Sdeleted
hobbyist - Toronto, Ontario, Canada


(2003)

A. If you're looking for very inexpensive "over-the-counter spray paint", you could try Plastikote Bumper Chrome Paintamazoninfo, David. From its name alone, you know they are trying to get the look right -- but one-component rattle-can paint doesn't truly approximate the look of chrome plating in my estimation. Good luck.

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Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey


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A. I agree that most spray commercial spray paints don't approximate chrome. This has to do with the differences in surface architecture between a plated surface and a conventional metallic pigment. (bounce angles of light, uniformity, dispersion...etc). However, there is a new generation of coatings based on VMP (vacuum metallized pigments) that do in fact approximate chrome. You see this in the automotive industry as many of the interior chrome parts are now a coating instead of conventional chrome.

Frank Thomas
- Cleveland, Ohio


thumbsup2Thanks, Frank. Vacuum metallizing of auto interior parts may be recently improved but it's certainly not new. The armrests, window cranks and dashboard parts of many 1960's automobiles used this technology of vacuum metallizing on plastic. The metallizing wore off very quickly, exposing mustard color plastic underneath. Because most car buyers weren't told, they mistakenly thought that it was "chrome plating"; this misidentification gave chrome plating of plastic an undeserved bad name. Real chrome plating of plastic is used for the grills and exterior parts of many if not most cars today, and it stands up to decades of sun, salt, and ice -- whereas vacuum metallizing is the technology used on the "jewelry" in Cracker Jack and gum-ball machine prizes.

I believe you that it's better today than it was in the 1960's. But to the small degree that we can discourage it, we're not letting this cheaper technology ride the coattails of chrome plating's outstanding performance and ruin its reputation a second time :-)

Readers may wish to see our "Introduction to Chrome Plating"
pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey


(2004)

Q. So, IS there any chrome spray paint that will come 'extremely close' to approximating the look of chrome plating? I did find a product by Alsa Corp. but wow...$150 for 8 oz! I would be willing to pay $50 for 8 oz. as long as I get a good finished look. Any suggestions as to what to use or where to get it? Thanks...

Ray Henry
- Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania


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A. Hi Ray. While the vendors of the high quality chrome-look paints apparently originally wanted this to be a technology they would offer to OEMs and established shops, it caught the consumers' imagination in such a big way that it just made more sense to sell it to a clamoring public than to restrict it to shops who perhaps weren't as enthusiastic. Also, the technology has improved rapidly, and it is easier to apply. So earlier answers you see on this forum (including some from me) are a bit out of date.

But I'm sure you get what you pay for, and how far does 8 ounces go? Compared to the price of real chrome plating, even the most expensive chrome-look paint is inexpensive. Good luck.

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Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey

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Concerning the question of chrome Paint and the claimed suppliers of such a product, I have extensive experience with a product called [deleted by editor] and a product called [deleted by editor]. First, [the first brand] is neither user friendly nor is it near as durable as suppliers of this product claim. After a substantial investment for equipment and the product itself a person can produce a sprayed on chrome finish on just about anything. The problem is this finish does not last more than six months, it appears to start discoloring most of the time around the edges (but not always) and eventually just peels right of the substrate. I could go on for some time about the poor quality of this product but I think it will suffice to say that this product does not work more than a very temporary basis. The supplier of [the first brand] will not confirm the shortcomings of this product if confronted, but just remember they only need to sell you the system and the supplies once and they have just made good money off one more sucker. [The second brand] is considerably more user friendly and much more cost efficient. If applied properly it looks very much like chrome until it is top-coated at which time it's reflectivity is reduced to about 85 to 90 percent. This a very nice effect to have in your bag of tricks as a custom painter, but if your looking for a chrome paint to replicate the look, feel, and durability of chrome plating, such a product does not exist.---- Just the truth.

Larry Spencer
- Dallas, Texas


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A. Chrome plating is the application of a very hard, slippery, corrosion resistant and abrasion resistant metal. You are right, Larry, no paint offers what a layer of real chrome metal offers. Chrome plating been the premium decorative finish for over 75 years.

But we ask that people not slam products here! If we print your letter without editing it, do we owe Joe.Phony@hotmail.com the opportunity to write "The brand that Larry recommended is a cheat and no good at all!". If we don't print Joe Phony's letter, are we censoring, or are we deleting a phony plant? We get many suspicious postings every day, including some where the IP address absolutely proves that they are plants :-)

We can't do a police background check to determine vested interests on postings, so it is silly for a reader to try to determine the quality of a product from the phony complaints planted by their competitors; it's best for us to just not print commercial slams or testimonials in the first place :-)
pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey


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Q. I am currently looking for different companies who provide an alternatives to chrome plating and who sell the equipment and the chemicals to reproduce the chrome like affect. I have researched many web sites and many companies and have had minimal results. The only two so far are Alsa chrome FX, and Gold Touch Cosmochrome. I'm sure there are more companies out there with similar equipment. If any knows of anything I would appreciate It dearly.

Thanks,

Wade J Clezie
motorcycle/hobbyist/business owner - Pocatello, Idaho, USA


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Q. I am looking into purchasing one of the paint-on chrome systems. We are a powdercoater and have a good reputation for durability. How does it hold up to heat, maybe on engine parts. Any experience with chip resistance.

James Ewing
- New Cumberland, West Virginia, USA


A. Each time we've posted inquiries about satisfaction with chrome-look paints it degenerated into applicators saying something like "Brand X if fabulous, brand Y is worthless". If anyone offers generic answers that apply to all chrome-look paint we'll print them, James, but you can understand how printing commercially motivated "testimonials" from semi-anonymous posters in a public forum is just silly :-)

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Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey

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A. Let me take it one further. There is a banner at the top of this screen with companies that support this site. Talk to their sales and ask the same questions. Then ask for lab testing reports on the one that you like best after the initial conversations.

James Watts
- Navarre, Florida

December 9, 2009

!! If you want REAL Chrome in a can you will find it at Alsa. Killer Chrome is REAL Chrome broken down in a spray form. I will forever use Alsa Corp's paints. Check the site out.

Sandi Propst
- Ponte Vedra, Florida


December 9, 2009

A. Hi, Sandi. I am glad that you are pleased with Alsa, but be thankful that the shops who chrome plate the landing gear of the airliners you fly on know better than to believe you that chrome-look paint is "REAL Chrome broken down in a spray form" :-)

Chrome-look paint is NOT chrome and has nothing at all to do with real chrome; chrome is an electroplated layer of the element chromium. It is 100 percent metal, "grown" onto the metal substrate by electroplating for perfect adhesion. Chrome-look paint is designed to look like chrome, not to perform like it; it does not have the lubricity, low coefficient of friction, adhesion, electrical conductivity, oil-holding capacity, wear resistance, scratch resistance, corrosion resistance, emissivity/absorptivity, or hardness of chrome. Please see our FAQ: "Introduction to Chrome Plating". Thanks!

I am not knocking chrome-look paint at all; to the contrary, it pleases me very much that hobbyists use chrome-look paint instead of trying real chrome plating. I am simply saying that we mustn't pretend that it is chrome plating; aside from shininess, it has nothing in common with it.

Regards,

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Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey

February 25, 2010

Q. I have read over the chrome "paint" vs. Chrome "metal plating" - I am looking for a product that has the depth and shine of chrome for use on plastic scale model replicas. I am familiar with AlClad II metallic finishes for hobbyists =>
but want something a little more touch resistant and durable "appearance" only. There is no requirement for the other advantages of real chrome. Thank you - John

John Ball
hobbyist - Tucson, Arizona


February 26, 2010

A. Hi, John. Any of the major brands of chrome-look paint should be fine. What is required for durability is that, after the very thin layer of silvering or aluminum flake, that the paint system include a durable clear coat to cover and protect that metallizing from rubbing off easily.

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey

August 3, 2010

Q. I understand the actual difference between chrome and chrome paint. I also understand that real chrome finish is superior to paint. I need to chrome paint a part but am concerned with longevity, so my question is this, if the painted piece is not handled once installed and is not exposed to the elements should I be concerned with longevity? it will be exposed to direct sun as there is a clear lens over it, but that is it.

dan smith
- morton, illinois, united states of america


August 2010

A. Hi, Dan
I personally would not expect this to be a problem. Some outdoor "statues" like the "chrome" jaguars on the marquees of Jaguar dealers are chrome-look paint. Good luck.

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey

July 28, 2012

Q. Sir,
We are a manufacturer of injection moulded plastic components. Now we are manufacturing decorative and deities figures. Now we are getting plating done in Vacuum chamber process. As some products are bigger they are not fitting into chamber. Will you please suggest any other type of gold color plating like dipping process or spray coat and their availability? Now we are using HIPS & ABS. Please help.
with regards,

G.V.Raghava reddy
polymers - Hyderabad, A.P., India


July 30, 2012

A. Hi G.V.

"Chrome-look paint" is very similar in appearance and performance to the vacuum metallizing that you are doing. Both start with a base coat; then they have a bright layer of aluminum deposited either in vacuum or by spray painting the carefully designed tiny flakes; then they have a clear top coat applied. It will probably be hard to tell one from the other.

I think the biggest difference between vacuum metallizing and high quality chrome-look paint is simply that the vacuum metallizing will involve higher capital cost but lower labor cost; and therefore the selection between the technologies would be based on production volume rather than appearance or quality.

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey

September 16, 2012

Q. I found some ceramic piggy banks in a colored chrome (or chrome-like) finish, but they only seem to come shades of pink & red .. I would like to find some in blue and/or green and/or yellow. Barring that I would like to find a paint or finish in those colors and finish my own banks. Can somebody help me?

d covey
- riverside California USA


September 18, 2012

A. Hi D. You may be able to just put a translucent blue lacquer on top of the existing piggy banks to change the color. Otherwise, see the banner at the top of the page for sources of chrome-look paint.

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey

February 11, 2013appended

Q. I am wondering if there is a viable way to get a faux chrome finish on a few cast aluminum sculptures. Nickel plating is, as far as I know, the only plating process for aluminum and it is out of my price range. The sculptures in question have been evenly sandblasted, but their surfaces are irregular. Perhaps I can apply several layers of polyurethane to smooth out the rough surface created from sandblasting and then apply an aerosol chrome-like finish? Extensive polishing between coats is pretty much impossible since the castings are full of undercuts and hard to reach areas.

How do you suggest I approach this?

Caleb Fletcher
- Nokesville, Virginia, USA


April 27, 2013

A. Hi Caleb. We appended your question to a thread which should answer it. Chrome-look paint should give you the faux chrome look you are seeking. Good luck.

Regards,

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Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey

May 8, 2013

Q. Chrome , Gold and Brass accents on Mid-Century Radios? Many radios and record players have thin edges and other detail like dial numbers that have a shiny chrome, gold or bright brass finish. After 50 - 60 years some or all may have come off. I'd like to restore these to the original look. Bright-finish paints don't seem to have the original luster. Any suggestions as to products and techniques are appreciated.

Chester Dwars
Hobbyist - Largo, Florida

May 9, 2013

A. Hi, Chester. First, are these accents on plastic or metal parts? If the parts are metal, they probably have real electroplating and the parts could be sent to a plating shop for replating if you wish. If the parts are plastic, it is probably not real electroplating but vacuum metallizing (a basecoat, followed by a very thin layer of vacuum-deposited aluminum, followed by a clear coat or a gold/brass tinted translucent coat).

Rather expensive machines are required to do vacuum metallizing, but today's "chrome look paints" are essentially the same 3-layer thing as vacuum metallizing except that the shiny layer is applied by spray painting.

Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com
Pine Beach, New Jersey
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