How To Paint Plastic Chrome Quickly!

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Are you looking for a way to paint plastic chrome and feeling unsure about how to go about this? It’s not too difficult if you take the correct approach, but you do need to know what you’re doing, or you may find that the paint flakes straight off the plastic chrome and looks a mess. Painting plastic chrome is a great way to cover up something that often looks a bit cheap and tacky, and there’s a whole range of situations in which you might want to do this, so let’s make sure you know how to do it correctly and get a great result.

You can’t just slap paint directly onto plastic chrome, or you’ll find that it flakes off; you need to prepare the surface properly if you want to have success with this. Using the right kind of paint will also be important, but the preparation is often the most important element, so make sure you bear this in mind before you start. 

It’s also important to remember that your chrome covered plastic may not take paint brilliantly well, no matter what you do, but that you can have some success with this process if you take the right approach. You may need to reapply the paint after a few years, depending on how much handling the item gets and how well the paint manages to adhere. However, it will look great in the interim.

Can You Paint Chrome Covered Plastic?

You can paint chrome covered plastic as long as you have the right materials and the plastic can be scuffed up with sandpaper or another rough surface before you start to provide the paint with a key. Because the chromed surface will be very smooth, you need to do this, or you’ll likely find that the paint simply flakes off as soon as the plastic flexes even slightly. It’s crucial to remember that the plastic will flex as you use it, and as the temperature around it fluctuates, so you need to use a paint that can stand up to this, especially if you are painting a high-touch surface.

Don’t rush the preparation work if you want to paint chrome covered plastic effectively, because this is crucial for ensuring the surface is capable of taking the paint. Sanding, wiping down, and priming will all be critical to making sure that the paint has a good chance of adhering well, and increasing the longevity of the coats.

It’s also important not to put too many coats on, as a thick coating is more likely to crack and start peeling when the plastic flexes. A couple of coats should be sufficient to change the color of the chrome in most cases, and will usually last better, unless the item is going to be handled a lot – in which case, more coats may be needed.

How Do You Paint Plastic Chrome?

You should start by taking some medium coarse sandpaper and gently sanding the whole chrome surface that you wish to paint, removing any silvery shiny finish, until you just have a dull surface; this will be much better at taking the paint. When you have done this, swap for a finer sandpaper and go over the whole surface again, creating plenty of grip for the paint to adhere to when you add it, and removing any scratches that the rougher sandpaper has caused. Make sure you have removed all of the shine; your chrome should look dull when you have finished sanding.

Next, take a damp cloth and wipe down the surface to remove all the dust, as this will prevent the paint from adhering properly. When the dust is gone, you need to get a primer that is appropriate for use on plastic, and apply this to the chrome. Some people prefer to use a self-etching primer as this will cling even better than a standard primer, but the choice is yours.

Apply two coats of primer, allowing both to dry, before you start to add an appropriate paint. You will want to apply 2 to 3 coats of paint to the surface, again allowing each coat to dry in between applications, so that the color is strong and the surface looks smooth. Make sure you wear appropriate safety gear, including a mask and goggles, while sanding and preparing the surface.

Should You Try To Remove Fake Chrome From Plastic Before Painting It?

Some people try to strip the fake chrome off the plastic before they paint the plastic, because there’s a risk of it un-bonding and peeling off, taking the paint with it and ruining your work. However, stripping fake chrome from plastic can be pretty challenging and you’re unlikely to find that it works well, even using strong chemicals – because there’s a risk of damaging the plastic if you do this.

If you want to try to remove the chrome, consider using a strong detergent and soaking and scrubbing it, but otherwise, you can simply use the above method to create a key and paint it. There is a risk that gradually, the fake chrome will peel off the plastic layer and remove the paint as it does so, but many people successfully paint over plastic chrome without removing the chrome first, and don’t find that they run into this problem.

For those who do decide to remove the chrome, you may find that it helps to use a stiff brush to help it flake off the plastic. Once you have removed all of the chrome, you will still need to sand the plastic surface to provide a key for the primer and the paint.

Will Painting Plastic Chrome Give Bad Results?

Painting plastic chrome should not give bad results as long as you follow the above method and prepare the surface thoroughly. If you don’t do this, you will likely find that your paint quickly starts to peel and doesn’t cling to the surface properly, which will make it look messy. Good preparation is crucial for making this work.

Some people want to paint their plastic chrome with more chrome to try to touch up the surface and make it look better, but if you are going to do this, you still need to sand down all of the existing chrome and remove the shine before you apply a new layer of paint – or you’ll find that you have the same issue in just a few months. You will essentially be re-chroming that surface with paint, not just touching it up, so make sure you know this before you start.

You should find that painting over plastic chrome gives great results if you have followed the right preparation method, but as an extra tip, try using a spray paint instead of a paint that you apply using a brush if possible; this will create a smoother finish that should look great. It will also give you a thinner layer, which is more likely to provide good adhesion, so you can apply multiple coats without it getting too thick to stick well.

Does Paint React With Plastic Chrome?

You should not find that paint reacts with plastic chrome as long as you have chosen an appropriate paint that will work on plastic; not all paints are suitable. If in doubt, get advice from a local decorating store or automobile shop about the best options in your area, and choose your paint brand with care. You will also need a good primer if you want the paint to stick well.

The primer will form a layer between the paint and the chrome, so there shouldn’t be any scope for the two to interact, even if they were going to. Additionally, when sanding, you will have removed most of the chrome surface in order to get a good key, so there’s not likely to be any issue with the paint reacting anyway. If you are particularly concerned about this, be extra thorough with the sandpaper, but make sure you are wearing protection over your eyes and mouth, as chrome is not a substance that you want to inhale under any circumstances.

If you do find that the paint you are using is reacting with the chrome in some way, stop painting the surface and use a cloth to remove the paint you have already added so you can find out what is going on. This should not happen, but if it does, get some advice from a local expert, and don’t continue with the same paint.


You should now have a good idea of how to paint plastic chrome effectively; most of the secret to success lies in good preparation work and making sure that you have removed some of the chrome before you start, providing the primer and paint with a great surface to cling to. Once you have done this, all you need is a suitable primer and paint in the color of your choice, and you can begin priming and then spraying the paint on. You should soon have a surface that looks much better than the flaky chrome!