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topic 43666

Can you gold plate over an existing chrome finish?

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A discussion started in 2007 but continuing through 2017


Q. What issues will I have if I gold plate over an existing chrome finish? Will the process dull the chrome finish? Anything else I should be aware of?

Jack Torse
Hobbyist - Costa Mesa, California, USA


A. That would be trouble, Jack. But actually it is very common to gold plate previously chrome plated automobile logos and trim parts.

Where your wording is a little bit off it that you don't plate over the existing chrome; rather, the chrome plating is actually stripped before the gold plating is done. The reflectivity remains good because that comes from the nickel plating which is under the chrome, and that will remain below the new gold plating

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

April 17, 2012

Q. Hi,

On the topic of chrome and gold plating, I'm confused. I have been good plating key rings for quite some while. First I strip the chrome off using a stripper solution, then use a nickel activator, and then finally plate the item with gold. However today, I tried to plate a pen which I believe has a chrome finish and I didn't strip the chrome off prior however it still plated fine. Does that mean it wasn't chrome on the pen?

Also, how can you tell the difference between a polished stainless steel look and a chrome finish. They look the same don't they?

Please help me out, as my small business on eBay is on hold due to this confusion. I hope I haven't been wasting my time chrome stripping all the key rings.


Benjamin Goodman
- Manchester, UK

April , 2012

A. Hi Benjamin.

You must strip the chrome or the gold will not adhere properly. So, either the gold is not sticking properly or (more likely) you are removing the chrome, either in the nickel activator (most likely since it's an acid) or the gold plating tank. In either case, the rapid build-up of chrome contamination in that tank will spoil it, so a separate stripping operation can make sense.

Unfortunately it's not easy to tell highly polished high quality stainless steel from chrome plating.


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

October 18, 2017

Q. When stripping chrome can you use the same sleeve for nickel activator, or better to use a new sleeve?

Joe Martinez
Joe's auto - Houston Texas United States

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