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topic 10978

Touching-up chrome furniture (chrome / formica table)


Do you have any suggestions for touching-up chrome plated furniture? I understand that there is no great solution, but is there a decent one? Some paint or something worth recommending?

David Nadler
- Chicago, Illinois, USA


I just refinished my grandmother's chrome formica top table and surprisingly enough I had really good luck. It was so easy! I used a medium grade 0000 steel wool [linked by editor to product info at Rockler] pad and applied "Naval Jelly [linked by editor to product info at Amazon]". You should wear rubber Protective Gloves [linked by editor to product info at Amazon] when you apply it, and should sand any rust with the steel wool beforehand. Then liberally apply the naval jelly to the steel wool pad and work it in. Just follow the directions on the bottle for timing. I had really good luck and it was done in a day.

Depending on what shape the chrome is in you could also remove the legs and take it to be rechromed, this method is more costly, but the results are much better than any chrome paint, which would eventually peel, crack and have to be done over. Best to you!

Kristina [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Tulsa, Oklahoma; United States


Hi, David.

There are inexpensive rattle-can paints made for the purpose such as Plastikote Bumper Chrome Paint [linked by editor to product info at Amazon], but I certainly agree with Kristina that this is at best a temporary measure, and may "reduce the contrast" where the plating is bad, but it won't really look like chrome plating. Good luck.


Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey

November 9, 2011

Naval jelly is not recommended for rust removal on chrome. Why is naval jelly not recommended for rust removal on chrome?

Becky Martinek
Hobbyist - Jamestown, Colorado USA

November 9, 2011

Hi, Becky.

Naval jelly is a mild acid but acids dissolve chrome, hence the manufacturers' warning not to use it on chrome plating.

Please be aware that when people talk about chrome plating they are usually actually talking about a very heavy plating of nickel, followed by a light flash of chrome (see our Intro to Chrome Plating FAQ). If the chrome is dissolved or damaged, it may not be immediately apparent since the nickel plating looks extremely similar. So it is possible that Kristina's procedure damaged the chrome without it being immediately evident.

Nickel plating is quite corrosion resistant itself, for interior use, so the table may still be fine even if the chrome was completely removed; but nickel is slightly less blue than chrome and can tarnish to a somewhat yellowish tone. For chrome that suffers outdoor exposure, the consequence of damaging it with naval jelly would be more severe. What is your situation?


Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey

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