Chrome has adorned everything from cars to houses and even decorations. But how do you get plastic to look like chrome? The process used to chrome-plate an object has varied, undesirable effects when used on most plastics. It can pit the plastic, fail to adhere at all or wind up blotchy and dull. With a few simple supplies, you can make plastic look like chrome while avoiding the pitfalls of trying to actually chrome-plate the plastic and reduce the possibility of damaging your plastic.
Put on your particulate mask. You can use a regular dust mask but it might not prevent inhalation of fumes and vapors. A full respirator is recommended, but a particulate mask and working in a well-ventilated area will suffice.
Sand the plastic well with wet/dry sandpaper -- 400 to 600 grit paper should be fine for this process.
Clean your plastic with a mild degreaser using a rag and rinse it well with water.
Spray the plastic with a thin coat of primer and let it sit for a couple days to dry and cure. Repeat steps 2 through 4 once; adding a second coat of primer. Primer can be purchased online at your local hobby or hardware store; brands include Rustoleum, Krylon and SEM (see Resources).
Sand the primed plastic one more time after it has cured. Rinse it to remove dust and allow it to dry.
Spray the plastic with a thin coat of chrome spray paint. Allow the paint to dry for a couple of days. Chrome spray paint can be purchased online or at your local hobby or hardware store; brands include Rustoluem, Krylon and Spaz Stix (see Resources).
Spray the plastic with another thin coat of chrome spray paint. This will ensure that thin areas are built-up and the primer underneath does not show through. Allow the paint to dry for a couple of days before handling it.
- Particulate mask
- Wet/dry sandpaper
- Spray-on sandable plastic primer
- Chrome-finish spray paint
A clear coat can be applied to increase glossiness and protect the paint layer.
Most aerosol primers and paints contain harmful chemicals. Make sure you use proper protection and work in a well-ventilated area.