Chrome trim gets a lot of hate in the car community these days. That’s why “chrome delete” is a thing. But what do car enthusiasts have against factory chrome trim anyway?
Aren’t these the same guys who would never in a million years Plasti Dip the chrome trim on something like an Aston Martin DB5?
The hate on chrome roots from the idea of making something cheap look expensive — pseudo-premium, if you will.
There’s a huge difference between cheap, chrome-coated ABS plastic trim seen on modern cars, and actual stainless steel or brass parts electro-plated with chrome seen on classic cars.
So if you’re like us, and if you find yourself reaching out for the nearest can of paint every time you see fake chrome trim, this guide is for you.
In this article, we’ll explore the best way to de-chrome your car with Plasti Dip.
We’ll explain how to use Plasti Dip on chrome, what precautions to take, and list everything you’re going to need for the process.
Let’s get into it.
What Is Plasti Dip
Plasti Dip is a sprayable rubber coating that can be applied to just about any surface to do 2 things:
- Temporarily change color, and
- Add a protective layer.
We say temporarily because it can be peeled off by hand at any time to restore the original finish of the part.
Despite the ease with which Plasti Dip can be removed, it is very durable and has a lifespan similar to that of vinyl coverings so long as it is applied correctly.
Can You Plasti Dip Chrome?
Yes, but there are extra steps involved. Note that we’re referring to chrome-polished ABS plastic and not actual, chrome-plated metal parts. Although, the process will remain the same for both applications.
The main risk when it comes to using Plasti Dip on chrome is that it might peel off easily, considering how smooth chrome-finished surfaces are.
As long as you take the right precautionary measures and apply each coat with patience and finesse, you should be fine.
However, if you intend on coating parts of your car that frequently get brushed or come in contact with something, the Plasti Dip might peel off eventually. Door handles, for example.
Just about any car component can be Plasti Dipped, barring those that generate a lot of heat, like exhaust pipes. Please don’t Plasti Dip your exhaust system.
The most commonly treated bits of chrome include:
- Interior trim,
- Door and window trim.
The result is usually surprisingly good. And the best part is that you can always take off the coating when you’re bored of it.
How to Plasti Dip Chrome
The process is quite easy and straightforward — there’s plenty of room for error because Plasti Dip can be peeled off, so you can’t really screw this up.
However, it’s very gratifying if you get it right on the first attempt, especially if you haven’t done this sort of thing before.
The best part about using Plasti Dip is that it’s a lot cheaper and less labor-intensive as opposed to something like vinyl wrapping or painting.
You don’t have to spend hours sanding down surfaces, nor do you have to meticulously squeegee out those annoying vinyl bubbles. All you need is a few things that you’ll probably find lying around in your house or garage.
- A bottle of rubbing alcohol
- Multiple cans of Plasti Dip
- Bowl of warm soapy water
- Rolls of painter’s tape
- Razor blades
- Scotch Brite
Start by thoroughly cleaning the surface with a soft scrubber and soapy water. You want to get all of the dirt, dust, and grime off before you apply the first coat.
Then wipe down the clean surface tissues and rubbing alcohol or degreaser to make sure that there’s no residual oil or grease left.
Remember that you don’t need to use any abrasives. With that in mind, avoid sanding down the chrome. The whole point of using Plasti Dip is to be able to take it off later to reveal the original surface.
Your preparation technique will vary depending on which part of your car you want to cover.
Emblems are the easiest. All you need to do is cover the surrounding area with masking tape. Make a square or rectangle around the emblem.
Because Plasti Dip is a removable bond, feel free to spray directly onto the surface of the car around the emblem. This can be taken off later.
Proceed by extending the mask with paper towels or newspaper so that you don’t accidentally spray thin coats of Dip on your car. It’s the thin coats that are a pain to get rid of. Thick coats come off very easily.
Alternatively, If you can take the emblem off, take it off, and try not to break any of the clips. That way you won’t have to bother with masking.
The main concern when doing the wheels is to avoid spraying your calipers, rotors/drums, and other sensitive components located behind your wheel.
The best thing you can do is cover the entire area behind the wheel with large sheets of plastic. Garbage bags will work just fine. Don’t worry about over-spraying on your tire sidewalls, it’ll come off very easily.
Or you could just put your car on jack stands, unbolt the wheels and dip them separately.
For a strong bond, and the best result, apply a few coats of white Plasti Dip on your rims before using the dominant color.
Just like with the emblems, if you can take the grille off before spraying it, do that. But if you prefer to spray the grill while it’s installed, be sure to pop the hood and pack the area right behind the grill.
This will ensure that none of the Plasti Dip unintentionally enters the engine bay. Mask off everything around the grill including the headlights, bumper, and hood.
The hard part is done. Spraying the Plasti Dip on is the easy part. The only thing to be concerned about is that you need to be patient between coats.
Remember, you aren’t working with spray paint. The goal is to create a bond and not just a layer of color. With each coat, you should use more and more Plasti Dip and not worry about it dripping.
That said, follow the same hand-movement technique as you would when using spray paint. Maintain a distance of at least 15cm to 20cm between the nozzle and the surface, and move the can from side to side, allowing the contents to settle on the surface without concentrating them at one point.
Try to follow this rule:
- 50% transparency on the first layer,
- 75% on the second layer,
- Then 100% on the third.
The first coat should only be a light dusting, with enough transparency to be able to see the original surface. Dial this up on the second coat, with the original surface barely visible.
The third coat should be the strongest and thickest. At this point, the surface should be covered in a heavy coat of your desired color.
Be sure to wait at least 15 mins between each coat. We cannot emphasize enough how important it is to wait between coats.
You want to wait for each coat to dry before you apply the next one. The core component of effective Plasti Dip application is adhesion. If you let each coat dry before applying the next one, it will form a strong bond, and the result will stay intact for a really long time.
Once the final coat dries off, take off all the masking tape and paper towels. Now for the fun and weirdly satisfying part — start peeling off all of the over-spray.
Be careful though, this should be done in small batches. You don’t want to accidentally rip off the Plasti Dip from the surface you want it on.
You’re All Set
The process of using Plasti Dip on chrome sounds really easy and that’s because it is! You don’t need any special tools or special skills, and there’s plenty of room for error.
Feel free to experiment with different colors as and when you please. Don’t like the done and dusted matte black? Rip it right off and try a brighter color instead.
You can even dip your entire car if you wish to. If you do everything right, the result will look outstanding.
What do you think about Plasti Dip in general? Do you prefer it over spray paint and vinyl wrap? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!