Restoring chromed plastic

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Jul 23, 2008
I can't believe I can't find this here - maybe I'm just using the wrong search terms.

What has anyone found to restore chromed plastic? I have a couple pieces where the chrome is completely worn off and I'd like to restore them. All the chrome processes I'm familiar with are for metal. I read about one for plastic, but I understand it's very expensive. Has anyone tried the chrome paints? Dupli-Color makes one... Krylon and others make them too. Do they look good and blend in with the real metal chrome elsewhere on the car? Do they hold up in UV? Or I'd need to put a clear coat over them?

My front grill is the main culprit, but I'm sure once I get started, I'd likely find a few other areas. If I can't find a good chrome restoration method, my other choice would be to paint it a silvery gray, but then it wouldn't match up with the actual chrome in other places.
Chrome is Chrome and paint is paint.
As with every paint, it is hard to blend old and new. I wouldn't expect the paint to be as shiny as metal Chrome, and I wouldn't expect it to nicely blend.
Plastic can be chromed just like metal by applying an electrical conductive base layer first. Then it goes the typical galvanation process.
Restoration involves removal of the old chrome (best done chemical with acid), surface prep (same as for spraying) and then a binding promotor for plastic, the conductive primer and then galvanizing. .
All in all an absolute experts job.
I’ve only tried one brand of so-called chrome paint and was very disappointed; it was basically silver paint with a bit of silver glitter in it. The shiny caps on spray cans at the hardware store are very misleading!
In doing a bunch more research, I've found several paints that look more promising but they look quite expensive. All that look like they would be anything other than crap seem to need a high gloss surface underneath, so basically you sand, prep, and paint the part gloss black, then apply the chrome paint and probably a 2 part clear coat over the top. All in it looks like it would be a few hundred bucks for the various primers, paints, and clears required. Maybe I could justify it if I had a number of parts I was doing at the same time as the supplies are likely sufficient to cover more than just a front grill, but I can buy a new one for about $200 plus shipping. I'll keep poking... will post something if I find what appears to be a good option.
I see some potential headlight bezel and grill issues with chrome peeling on mine as well. While it looks nice and stock, I figured a little sanding and refinishing in a toyota pewter or grey or black would also be options and probably look better than trying to repair chrome with chrome spray paint. Maybe a convo with a local chrome plater would answer some of these questions?

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