The authentic chromium plating process - one in which the surface of metal or plastic objects is coated with chromium - is common, but quite dangerous for those who are not experienced in the subject. Fortunately, there are several simpler alternatives when you want to make certain items more embellished or even protected. The easiest technique is to apply a chrome spray paint with metallic pigments in a vacuum, but you can also buy a chrome kit that uses DI water and a solution. Just be sure to clean the entire surface before applying any product, in addition to taking the necessary protective measures against harmful chemicals.
Method 1 of 3: Cleaning the Object
Step 1. Rinse and dry the object
Start by washing the metal object you want to chrome. Place it under a cold tap and wet all sides. Then wipe it with a cloth to remove dirt particles from the surface. You can skip this step if the item is oily or greasy.
be sure to clean the object. If there is any contaminant on the surface, it will have water stains, bubbles and other impurities when it is chromed.
Step 2. Put on a pair of rubber gloves and put on protective eyewear
Most commercial degreasers irritate the skin and eyes. Therefore, put on a pair of clean rubber gloves and put on protective eyewear before starting to chrome objects.
Step 3. Remove oil and grease particles using a degreaser
Buy a commercial degreaser, the kind made for kitchens, bicycles or metal objects. Apply it to the item you are going to chrome and wait for three to five minutes. Then take a clean cloth and rub the surface until nothing of the sort remains.
- Purchase the degreaser at any household cleaning supplies store.
- You can also make a degreaser yourself: mix 3 tablespoons of baking soda with 1 cup of warm water.
Step 4. Rub a steel wool onto the surface of the metal object
Take a thick, dry steel wool and rub the object in a circular motion. Go through each area of the item three or four times, with a little force, until all the impurities are removed. Finally, rinse and dry the metal.
Do not use steel wool if the object is made of plastic and you plan to spray chrome. In this case, just rinse the item with water and then dry it with a cloth
Method 2 of 3: Painting the Object
Step 1. Buy a can of chrome spray paint
Go to a local paint or building supply store and buy a can of spray paint that is made specifically for the chrome plating process. Also, try to find something like "vacuum metallic pigments" (or VMP). Don't choose any paint that only has "silver" or "gold", or the color of the final object won't look as authentic.
- These spray paints are sold as "metallic".
- This is your best option if the object you want to chrome is cheaper, like a necklace or vase.
- Technically, this method does not chrome objects. Even so, it's safer than the others - and it has very close effects.
the ideal is to use a paint with vacuum metallized pigments, since their own pigments come chromed. They are more expensive, but the investment is worth it if you want an authentic final effect.
Step 2. Take the object outside and place it on a thick tarp
Aerosol paints can irritate the lungs, especially when the environment is not well ventilated. Therefore, take the object to an open area of the house. Place it on top of a tarp so you don't accidentally paint the floor or walls around it.
- You can redouble your care and buy a mask, but this part is unnecessary when the surrounding environment is open.
- Put on your pair of rubber gloves so you don't get your hands dirty.
- Wear a long-sleeved shirt and pants. Ink particles can eventually stain your skin.
Step 3. Hold the paint can 20 or 40 cm from the object
Shake the paint can for anywhere between 20 and 25 seconds until you hear the ball inside it. Point the mouthpiece at the metal object from a distance of 20 to 40 cm.
Never try to apply the paint with the can upside down
Step 4. Spray paint on the object from side to side
Starting at the top of the metal or plastic object, apply paint back and forth until you reach the base of the item. Don't spend too much time in one place, or the ink will start to run and smudge.
Applying spray paint for the first time can feel awkward. If you are inexperienced, train on something else before starting: a piece of cardboard, a shoe box, and so on
Step 5. Wait two or three hours before turning the object over
After painting one side of the object, wait two to three hours while the paint dries. Next, turn the item over to expose the areas that are not yet painted.
Typically, spray paint dries within 15 to 30 minutes. This time is longer when it includes vacuum metallized pigments. That's why it's best for you to wait a few hours - to make sure the metal or plastic object absorbs all the material
Step 6. Paint the remaining areas of the object and wait for more
Repeat the process of the previous steps for areas of the object that are not yet painted. Hold the paint can 8 to 40 cm from the surface and spray it back and forth. Then wait two or three hours.
The chrome paint will start to wear out within six to eight months
Step 7. Repeat the process a few times to make the object brighter
Once the first layer is dry, you can either be satisfied with the color or repeat the steps above to make the object more shiny and textured. Just follow the process in the same way as described above until you complete a total of three or five layers.
Method 3 of 3: Using a Chrome Plating Kit
Step 1. Buy a chrome plating kit from a paint store or online
The chrome plating kit, also known as the metallizing kit, includes some chemical ingredients that help give a chrome finish to metal objects. They have very different prices depending on the store you choose. Its biggest advantage over the previous method is its durability, although it involves harmful and abrasive products.
- The chrome plating kit not only makes metal objects shinier, it also protects them from rust build-up and wear!
- If you only want to chrome one or a few objects, it might be more feasible to take everything to a professional.
- You can use the chrome plating kit on objects that are made of plastic or more durable metals such as steel, brass, copper and aluminum.
Step 2. Put protective gear all over your body
You need to avoid having any direct contact with the chemicals you are going to use to chrome the object. Wear a pair of slacks, a long-sleeved shirt, and, if possible, even a sweatshirt with an adjustable hood. Put on a pair of rubber gloves and put on goggles. Finally, put a quality mask on your face.
Some masks are not as effective as others
some chrome plating kits do not include as many harmful or abrasive chemical ingredients in their composition. In this case, you don't need to protect yourself so much. Just be sure to read the safety instructions on the label carefully and see what is recommended.
Step 3. Place the object in a well-ventilated area
You need to avoid any exposure to the chemicals in the kit. Therefore, remove the object and materials from inside the house. Place everything on a thick canvas, on the floor or table, to protect the surrounding surfaces from paint.
You'd better not try to follow the steps of this method when it's windy. Particles from the chemicals in the kit will spread all over the place
Step 4. Cover the object with the spray activation solution
Hold the activator can 15 or 20 cm from the object and apply the product to the entire surface of the object. Give ten to 20 sprays on each section so none are left behind. In the end, the solution needs to be dripping from the item.
- The activator, also known as a primer, coats the object in a solution that better fixes the spray of chromium to the material (metal or plastic).
- Each chrome kit is different. If your instructions say that you must apply in a specific way, follow them to the letter and skip this step.
Step 5. Mix the chromium plating solution with deionized water
Read your kit instructions to determine the optimal way to mix the solution. Most kits include some deionized water. In that case, you just need to transfer two or three bottles into a spray bottle and shake it. Finally, there are products that only require a bath with their own deionized water before applying the solution itself.
- You can buy ready-made deionized water at supermarkets, drugstores or household cleaning supply stores.
- Deionized water, also known as demineralized, does not contain any minerals, contaminants or preservatives.
Step 6. Spray the chrome solution onto the object
Hold the spray bottle 15 to 20 cm away from the object. Apply the solution to it ten to 15 times, starting at the top and ending at the base. Ideally, it is dripping from the item and falling onto the canvas. Run across the entire surface, leaving no area behind.
- If possible, adjust the spray nozzle to release a little more of the solution and prevent particles of solution from reaching other places (such as your skin or the floor around the tarp). The larger the part, the more difficult it will be to control the process.
- The object's color will change as the activator, water and spray stick to its surface. This effect is almost immediate.
- Depending on your kit, you may have to apply several layers of solutions of different densities to complete the process.
Step 7. Apply a spray sealant
Apply the sealant right after spraying or wait for the chromium plating solution to dry - it all depends on the kit instructions. In any case, spray the product over the entire surface of the item following the same method you used with the solution itself: holding the can 15 or 20 cm away and covering all areas.
The sealant will protect the chrome, preventing it from fading for at least a year
Step 8. Run the object's hair dryer
Turn on the dryer on the cold jet and pass the object, from one side to the other, until completing the entire surface of it. Start at the top and finish at the bottom. When you're done, you're done: the item is chromed!
- Remember that each plating kit is different. Follow the specific instructions on the label of what you purchased.
- In general, the effects of chromium plating kits last from one to five years.
- If you want to do the real chrome plating (with hexavalent chrome), take the object to a specialized workshop. The process involves chemicals that are carcinogenic. It's best not to risk your safety by trying to do it yourself.
- Be very careful if you decide to assemble an electroplating system to change the molecular structure of metal objects! This technique is not the same as chrome surface of items. As much as you can do everything at home, it is dangerous and creates the risk of fire, shock, etc.