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Is it Possible to Powder Coat Chrome?

Here at Maldon Shot Blasting, we would like to put the record straight.

Powder coating is a process commonly used to coat parts of all kinds and protect them from corrosion and rust. The process involves applying a coating over a metal surface by blowing a dry powder onto the surface and then curing by heat until it forms a protective long-lasting layer over the surface.

It is often used in the automotive (especially with motorcycles) industry, but one question many people ask is whether it’s possible to powder coat chrome. After all, the spray-on powder does need a good clean and the etched surface it can adhere to and chrome being chrome is inherently a very smooth surface.

Here are some things to keep in mind if you are considering having a powder coat put on chrome parts:

First and foremost, it’s important to realise that you can’t powder coat over chrome and expect a good long term quality finish without the correct prep work.

Powder coating will not adhere to untreated chrome. In order to carry out the work properly, the surface must be stripped of chrome and then apply the powder coating be it by having it removed by a chrome plating company or in the case of low-grade cheap chrome can be removed by blast cleaning. Heavy chrome (as Harley) can be etched by blast cleaning but there is a risk of breaking through the surface and leaving ridges that can and often will leave you with little choice to carry on although not recommended, the safest is to again is to have the chrome removed by a chrome plate company.

For a professional finish, we highly recommend this to be removed by a chrome plater.

It is possible to use a powder coating that looks like chrome after it has been applied. This type of coating generally cures with a very reflective surface that looks similar to chrome, although technically, it isn’t chrome at all.

Maldon Shot Blasting stock high-quality chrome effect powder and it is extremely reflective without a lacquer coat, this is fine if you want to keep your items indoors away from sunlight and general pollutants, as the chrome effect powder is NOT UV stable and will fade, therefore a good quality diamond clear lacquer coat must be applied to render the chrome coat down to a very bright silver.
Before the powder coating can be applied, the parts must be blast cleaned so that any residue that’s on them removed. However there is some chrome that just will not budge by blasting, typicality you will find that when you break through the plating (on heavy chrome you may damage the base metal whilst trying to remove what remains.

Pretreatment is an essential part of powder coating because it ensures that the parts are completely clean before the powder coating is applied. It is easy to tell parts that have not been pretreated and/or blasted before the coating was applied because that coating starts to flake off not long after it is applied.

Be sure to ask several questions of the shop you are planning on using to apply the powder coating because not everyone applies a coating to the highest quality standards. Pretreatment is necessary if you don’t want the coating to flack off.

Also keep in mind that while some chrome parts can be powder coated after careful pretreatment, there are some that it is advisable not to coat. Chrome itself is usually applied by lower temperature plating, and if the part itself cannot stand up to temperatures of around 350 degrees Fahrenheit, they should not be powder coated. High temperatures are necessary in order to get the coating to adhere to the surface successfully. In some cases, you may be able to protect sensitive areas on each part by masking off with high temp products designed for the purpose, but as always, check with a professional how the work will be carried out.

If the company you use tells you it can be done then buyer beware of the downfalls.

Other points worth considering

If the chrome is of poor quality and thinly plated then is easily removed by blast cleaning.

In many cases, rust can sit under the chrome plate eating through the chrome and also into the substrate leaving behind deep pitting.

Chrome can be damaged by the high heat process for powder coat curing.

Reading through some of the blogs on this subject written by so-called experts (home coaters in the main) I came across one that said “ providing the chrome is clean you can powder coat over it) wrong on every level.

Final point

In most cases we offer our five-year anti-corrosion warranty but keep in mind we have to consider the long term results on certain items that are badly corroded, as we can’t make a silk purse from a sow’s ear, even with the very  best intentions

Here are some examples of our Chrome Effect powder coating…

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