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topic 14122

Re-anodizing Aluminum


Q. Can you re-anodize a piece of aluminum once it has been anodized already? I have a piece with some heavy scratches and scrapes and want to try to make it look a little better. Any suggestions?

Jim Stokes
- Richmond, Virginia

probert book
Aluminum How-To

"The Chromating - Anodizing - Hardcoating Handbook"
by Robert Probert


A. It's a very standard practice to strip and re-anodize, Jim, and very often it's no problem.

The only issue is that about a thousandth of an inch of aluminum is consumed in building a two thousandth of an inch anodized coating. When you strip that coating, the aluminum is lost it doesn't come back. So if the dimensions are critical you can have a problem there.

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

May 10, 2010

Q. Do I have to strip the first anodized layer to re-anodize the part? Here's my situation. I'm making some pistol grips for a 1911. I have the grips to the shape that I want them. I plan on anodizing and dyeing the grips. then I will use a small diameter drill bit and drill lots of shallow "pits" in a honeycomb pattern. I know that once I drill into the anodized surface, those drill areas will not be anodized anymore. I want to leave them the natural shiny aluminum color, but how do I anodize the "pits"?

Patrick martin
- st. marys, Georgia

"Surface Treatment & Finishing of Aluminium and Its Alloys"
by Wernick, Pinner & Sheasby
from Abe Books
info on Amazon

May 11, 2010

A. Hi, Patrick. I don't believe there is any technical reason that you can't do this, but there can be some problems with technique. Anodizing is not resistant to either acids or alkalis, so it will be a problem to clean those drilled pits.

Also, if you do not want to go to the cost and effort of masking the dyed anodized surface, your second anodize may have some aesthetic effect on the first layer. One layer of anodizing is used as masking for a second layer sometimes, so I'd say it's do-able but that you want to practice your technique on scrap, not on precious parts. Probably better to mask the anodized grip, and drill through the masking.

Good luck!


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

November 9, 2010

Q. A 1950's vintage bus with gold anodized stainless steel exterior panels is beginning to show its age. I don't know much about anodizing- what would you recommend here? The panels cannot be removed, but the anodizing is worn away in some areas...

Pat Robinson
- noblesville, Indiana

November 10, 2010

A. Hi, Pat.

First, wash the panels and look at them wet. If they look good enough wet, it may be possible to apply a clearcoat like Everbrite [a supporting advertiser] to maintain that wet look. There are "brush anodizing" services you can retain to do such a project in place, but you may find them prohibitively expensive. An option would be paint that is designed to imitate anodizing. It doesn't really look the same, but may be good enough for a 50 year old bus if you are talking general serviceability as opposed to appearances in car shows. Letter 26417 "True gold anodizing spray paint?" shows real gold anodizing vs. paint that is designed to imitate it. Good luck.


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

Re-anodizing the laser etched areas of anodized parts

February 27, 2015

Q. I have access to a laser cutter and have used it to take off anodization on many things to produce designs and whatnot. I was wondering if I lasered an anodized part could I reanodize the part so that only the newly exposed metal would change color, and the anodization that is still on the metal stay there.

Sullivan Evans
student - Troy, Michigan, USA

March 5, 2015


I've never tried it on a laser cut surface; only on machined surfaces. I would expect that the 'bare' surface exposed by laser would have a relatively thick oxide film present. Your challenge would be how to remove it and not the existing anodize.

Willie Alexander
- Colorado Springs, Colorado

Re-anodizing 60 year old aluminum

March 6, 2016

Q. I am restoring a 1952 International Harvester Refrigerator. The door shelves are aluminum anodized with a gold color. The shelves are then trimmed out with white paint.

The original gold color surface has taken a beating over the years, and the shelves need re-anodizing. I took the pieces to a local Anodizing Company. They told me that the older style aluminum is a different composite than today's aluminum, and that the anodizing process used today (chemicals, etc) is different than what was done "back in the day". They said that there could be a possibility that the resulting gold color could turn out "blotchy". They also weren't keen on painting the white paint over the anodizing because it may not adhere well -- especially if I wanted to follow up with a clear coat paint.

They suggested powder coating as an option instead. Thoughts?

Gary Costel
- Butler, Pennsylvania, USA

March 2016

A. Hi, Gary. I think the anodizing shop gave you an honest but slightly misinterpreted answer. I don't think it's a question so much of how aluminum was made 60 years ago vs. how it is made today, but rather the fact that a 60 year old aluminum alloy may by now have separated into its constituents along grain lines such that nice anodizing could be problematic.

Powder coating sounds to me like a practical answer. Good luck.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"

January 25, 2019

Q. I have a piece of aluminum 6063 which has been anodized once. I need to machine off some surfaces and perform second anodize. My question is: do I need to strip off / reactivate the first anodic layer on the unmachined surfaces? Or just a neutral pH detergent to remove CNC coolant and then perform second anodize?

Roger Tan
- Singapore

January 2019

A. Hi Roger. Best to strip off all of the anodizing, then do the machining, then clean & re-anodize. It's possible to leave the existing anodizing in place and re-anodize the newly exposed aluminum but on onesy-twosy work, with no opportunity for development and testing, it's probably not a safe idea.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"

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