Painting car parts chrome. Possible?

I want to buy a plastic brush guard for my jeep liberty (basically just an extra bumper). It doesn’t come in chrome so I was wondering if I could do it my self? Is there such a thing as chrome spray paint? Note- I do not want silver. I want a mirror like finish.

I don’t believe it’s possible to get a chrome/mirror surface from paint of any kind.

Plastic car models typically have “chrome” pieces – the plastic is is coated with something that actually resembles chrome. What the coating is or what it takes to apply it, I don’t know.


My son’s Amazing Science Facts book (circa 1970) says that the plastic parts are coated with a thin layer of aluminum. They put the parts in a chamber, pump it down to 10[sup]-6[/sup] Torr, and vaporize some aluminum wires (via electrical current).

I remember seeing a Chrome Finish spray paint at the hardware store.

Not true mirror finish of real chrome electroplate, but a bit better than regular silver spray.

I just bought a can of chrome spray paint from the local auto parts store so it definately exists. I haven’t tried it yet, so I can’t tell you how well it works.

To look like a mirror, the metal surface has to be smooth enough so that the light waves think it’s smooth. Light is like a stack of membranes, with a couple thousand light waves per millimeter, and if the bumps in your rough surface are smaller than the distance between waves (smaller than around 1/2000 mm,) it can reflect like a mirror. Polished metal isn’t perfectly smooth, it’s just that the scratches are smaller than lightwaves.

Silver spray paint doesn’t work, since the stuff is just little metal grains suspended in clear plastic, and they’re not very small. To look like a mirror, you need way more than several thousand metal bits per mm, not just the few tens or hundreds per mm like in finely ground metal dust.

I’ve seen some metallic spray paint which looks quite silvery. I suspect they flatten the metal dust grains so they’re more like flakes than little balls. As the paint drys, the flat dust grains tend to follow the shape of the surface rather than being oriented randomly.

Not very well. It’s okay for touch up work, but for what the OP is seeking, the end result isn’t going to be pretty.

You can plate aluminum to plastic, Richard Feynman talks about helping to develop the process in Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman. However, it has the annoying habit of peeling.