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topic 18738

Chrome plating at home

chrome paint   Gold Touch   J G Nikolas   M and M Metallizing


Q. I will like to see if any one of you can help me out. I what to know how to make chrome plating at home for my use. Can somebody tell me how to make it step by step. If so thanks a lot and if no thanks a lot too.

Hector G [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- San Juan, Texas


A. Hi, Hector. We have an introduction to chrome plating that you may find helpful. If you need step-by-step instruction, you should get a couple of good plating books because nobody can explain the process step by step from zero in a response of manageable length; we'd have to leave out whole chapters :-)

You can get a kit from Eastwood for Tin-Zinc plating at home and other plating "kits" from a number of hobby plating sources including Gold Touch [a supporting advertiser], but I don't think anybody suggests chrome plating at home because chrome is carcinogenic as seen in "Erin Brockovich" [link is to movie info at Amazon]. God help you if a local child contracted cancer from any cause whatsoever and the child's parents found out that you are releasing fumes of hexavalent chrome from your garage!

There are chromium substitutes, such as cobalt alloys, that are much less toxic than chrome, and you might consider them.

Again, please start with a plating which is less toxic, or maybe even better, consider chrome-look paint. Good luck!

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


A. I'm not an expert. If you don't already know, chrome is added on top of nickel. Nickel is the shiny look that you see when you look at chrome wheels and stuff. Chrome is just another coating that makes the surface harder and less scratchable. To do chrome coating is very dangerous, and hard and long. You have to electroplate it on the object. It is also expensive to buy the stuff and equipment. How it's done is, you electroplate copper on the metal (like steel), then you electroplate nickel (the shiny silver look), then you electroplate chromium. Chrome is not very metallic shiny looking, its just a protective coating on top of the nickel. The instructions I gave you are very broad, its even harder to do because you have to buff it after each coating and acid clean it too. It really doesn't make sense to chrome at home. It will cost too much and long, plus it's very dangerous and toxic. It's toxic to breathe and you can't dump the remaining solution or bath of chrome, you have to use a toxic waste management company to take it, and that costs a lot also. It is also very bad for the environment. Only big companies should do it, and even they are closing because of cost and issues with the waste. Sorry for the long message.

Shawn Kay
- Florida


A. As I have read in others responses, I as an x-plater will confirm, yes chrome solutions are very toxic. There are multiple types of chrome solutions to plate with and yes first you need to strip all old chrome plating. You need to clean parts with alkaline solution, then etch parts with acid solution in most cases. For industrial chrome plating nickel is not needed as that gives brightness and shininess as others have previously said. For those wanting to plate something like a bumper or car rims you need a layer of let's say cyanide copper, that solution can cause death if not handled properly and is very hazardous, also you must place a layer of acid copper on parts which is another solution needed, this is because one kind of copper is like a primer and the other gives a shiny layer before the nickel, then you need a layer of nickel from nickel solution, after that a layer of chrome. And also someone else stated you must sand and buff between layers but that's not true if you use the proper process, if you leave parts in too long or not long enough they may not plate properly or even destroy parts. Special breathing gear/filters/safety glasses and gowns/boots etc are needed for your safety because of cyanides and acid/very corrosive chemicals and all these can cause serious health problems and death. And don't forget disposal of these solutions, special permits,ventilation.

Guys forget it, trust me it's not a task for home, and even me having plated before at a company I would not do it at home. It would cost way more than to just send stuff in to be plated, and they will do a factory job not an "oops I messed up" job!

I hoped this helped you all; plating is hazardous!

Todd W [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Milwaukee, Wisconsin

weiner book
Chromium Plating

Weiner & Walmsley

Hard Chromium Plating


! Well it is not as hard and dangerous as many may think and the profits can be good too. You can buy anything you need to do chrome plating and more at home.

Matz L [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Dallas, Texas


People are welcome to their opinion, and we won't censor yours, Matz. But please explain how you comply with the MACT standard for chrome air emissions or why you think you don't need to. Do you report your surface tension to the authorities every day as required by federal law? Have you received your Industrial Discharge Pretreatment Permit from the sewer authority as required by federal law? Do you have full records, and labeling for the waste that is being accumulated? Do you have manifests for the DOT proving that no highway was ever endangered by the transport of your waste? This stuff has a way of eating into those good profits that you speak of.

And, as said before, if a child in your neighborhood were to contract cancer, regardless of how or why, God help you.

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

August 12, 2009

! Too much of anything will kill you. That's why there are many regulations for industry plating but less on hobby plating. I can buy many products to do plating at home. There are a few outfits that sell plating kits to do home plating. They may not ship all their products to California, but if you want to do small plating at home it can be done. Just like I can develop film at home without having a permit to dispose of the waste.

Just my 2¢

rollin harold
- sioux falls, South Dakota

August 13, 2009

Hi, Rollin. When people like Matz claim that: "the profits can be good", they are not talking about a hobby, they are referring to a business. And whether run from home or not, the wastes are regulated.


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

April 26, 2011

Q. My motorcycle windshield supports are chromed but getting pitted due to a a very poor coating thickness I fear. I have a large car bumper which is chromed which I hope can be used somehow to re-cover the subject parts. Is there some method simple for me to accomplish to do this? I have the time and electrical knowledge for the electroplating.

Give me a bit of advice. Thanks

Jack Wallis
Hobbyist - Knoxville, Tennessee, USA

April 26, 2011

A. Hi, Jack.

We have an "Introduction to Chrome Plating" on line that you may find interesting, but the short answer is that chrome plating is quite difficult and requires pure chemicals; so you will not be able to transfer the plating from your car bumper to your motorcycle windshield supports. You might consider chrome-look paint if you want to do the project yourself; otherwise, send it to a chrome plating shop. Good luck.


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

August 10, 2011

A. I started my plating company in my garage forty years ago. Plating chrome at home is not practical, as said before. It's dangerous and the disposal has many problems. Just pay a company to do it or buy new; it's cheaper in the long run

Humphrey Sylvanuspeek
- Fleet Hants England

February 8, 2012

Q. I found this post while searching for a way to refinish salt water fishing reel chrome. I see that setting up to "rechrome" in my garage isn't going to happen and having parts "rechromed" will be too costly. I'm wondering it there is any process that would be effective. My biggest concerns would be durability and appearance. Does anyone have a suggestion?

James Geiger
- Page, Arizona, USA

February 9, 2012

A. Hi, James.

You could consider the Eastwood plating, although it certainly won't have the shine of chrome. Chrome-look paint would have a lot of shine, but would not have nearly the wear resistance of real chrome. If the parts are made of brass, an automotive clearcoat might give an acceptable look. Obviously you may be able to expect some of the advantages of chrome from a cheaper and easier finish, but you can't expect all of them. Good luck.


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

Successful plating with fixed voltage and polarity for all baths

November 13, 2014

Q. I am new to plating and today I got a little lazy and used the same voltage for electrocleaning, activating and plating. I plated rings, chains, some medical forceps, and stainless steel items and a few small silver doo-dads, and everything came out great. So my question is why all the different plating voltages and polarities I have been told to do when just using the same set-up and same 6 volts for all worked just fine. I would appreciate some input. Thanks in advance

Richard Courtright
- San Francisco California USA

November 2014

Hi Richard. What did you plate the items with, nickel (you didn't say)?
There's no arguing with success; if you plated to your own satisfaction, that's fine. But should you find after closer examination that the plating is not satisfactory for one reason or another, we can talk about it. For example, I doubt that the plating is sticking properly to the stainless steel.

Generally plating uses direct polarity (the work is negative) for every type of plating. Both positive and negative polarity are widely used for electrocleaning. If the parts are high strength steel you can't use direct polarity for cleaning or activating as it will cause hydrogen embrittlement.

6 volts is a good voltage for a lot of plating. It will work for electrocleaning, it's just lower than optimum for most situations. Good luck.


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

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