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topic 25693

Want to paint my chrome motorcycle fender black


What can I do to make paint adhere to a chrome plated motorcycle fender? Is there an etching agent that works on chrome?

William Hess
Hobbyist - Mason, Wisconsin


A. William,

Firstly, go to the archives and have a looksee at #12044 ... This won't give you the answer ... only how to remove the chrome ... then, assuming it was a well made piece, you'd end up with a nickel substrate which, I think (don't really know!) should be much easier to get a paint to adhere than to a shiny, highly glossy chrome.

freeman newton portrait
Freeman Newton
White Rock, British Columbia, Canada

(It is our sad duty to
advise that Freeman passed away
April 21, 2012. R.I.P. old friend).


A. I had a 79 Kawasaki KZ 1000 with a chrome fender that I wanted to paint. I hand wet sanded it with 800 grit paper and shot a zinc primer over it, wet sanded 1000 grit, then shot a urethane top coat over it. Twenty some odd years later, it's just starting to show signs of chipping around the edges..... hope this helps.

Kirby Moose
- East Texas


A. Since I build and paint custom motorcycles almost exclusively, I can tell you that I have excellent luck with this formula ... All things considered, i.e., no rust, pitting, peeling of chrome or such --

1) Sand with 180 grit on a dual action sander. this seems like a coarse grit, but you are sanding metal, not paint or primer,it is not going that deep. Make sure that the whole thing looks flat and dull and ugly. Use a sander if possible to give the cross hatch sand pattern. A linear sand scratch feels rough, but look at the sand cuts in a microscope to see that they are smooth cuts in the same direction. Paint will not stick very well to this.

2) Clean off with thinner to remove dust and oils from your hands, etc.

3) Etch prime area to be painted. I use Sherwin Williams GBP etch in a spray can. It's killer!

4) Prime with good urethane primer.

5) Sand with 400 or finer paper up to 800 prior to the painting process. Due to the new high solids paints these days, finer scratches are ok, the paint will stick to them.

6) Shoot a good coat of sealer on and then paint.

I have never had a single panel of painted chrome come back to me for chipping or peeling. You won't go wrong if this procedure is followed. I gave you the body shop fix for all this... if you do not have access to the tools and materials I mentioned, have a body shop get to the etch prime stage. The rest can be done with rattle cans and hand sanding. If you really want this to look good and last, spend the money and do it right. Good luck! I hope this helps.

Kim Burris
- farmington Utah

December 5, 2008

Q. Is there a reversible paint for blacking out chrome? I want to paint the chrome trim on a motorcycle black, but want it reversible (back to chrome) if I ever decide to sell the cycle.

Rob Thorne
- Palm Springs, California

April 7, 2009

A. Though I don't professionally paint on bikes, I have had some great experiences painting with automotive finishes on glass and chrome and each is removable. I have used a product called Bulldog Tie Coat [linked by editor to product info at Amazon] (available at professional auto paint places). It adheres to the glass of chrome and then adheres to the paint. The steps are as follows: First prep the chrome area to be painted by washing with Simple Green [linked by editor to product info at Amazon] to remove any oils and dirt (contaminants). tape off the area you want to paint. load your gun with bulldog (do not dilute) and shoot a thin coat on, wait about 15 min and shoot another thin coat (allow to set about 15-30 min). Next, clean gun and mix primer (like a PPG epoxy primer) and in the mixing add about 1 part bulldog to 9-10 parts mixed primer. Shoot the primer coat and allow to set as per the primer directions. Next , clean gun and mix base coat paint as per directions and shoot. allow to set for time specified by manufacturer.Clean your gun and mix clear coat. Finally, shoot clear per directions from manufacturer and cut and buff as needed. I have used this process for other applications on chrome and glass and the paint will stay very well on the surfaces. The paint is removable with a good paint remover, and when you remove the paint you will be back to your original chrome. most of the items I have done on the outside of vehicles, the paint has lasted without flaking off for over 5 years. Hope this helps you out

Sean Steiner
- Post Falls, Idaho

To minimize searching and offer multiple viewpoints, we've combined multiple threads into the dialog you're viewing. Please forgive any resultant repetition or failures of chronological order.

February 19, 2015

Q. Hi I enjoy this site and have been polishing small things and plating with zinc. My question is can chrome be 'damaged' enough so that it will hold paint with success and avoid cost/pollution problems. I have a Harley frame someone chromed in the early sixties I would like to Paint or powdercoat black

Jerry Hansler
- Paisley Ont Canada

March 2015

A. Hi Jerry. I have been told by powder coaters that they have enjoyed success by light "sweepblasting" which removes the chrome and slightly etches or activates the nickel. The adhesion would probably not be reliably good enough for an OEM, but is worth trying, especially if you can find a powder coating shop who claims success with it.


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

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