How to Paint Chrome Bumpers: Step by Step Guide

Even though painting chrome bumpers seem like a tedious task, it can guarantee a finish that will stand the test of time and make your bumper stand out among the crowd. And due to how difficult the task looks, not everyone experiments with it.

However, we wanted to get rid of the imperfections by spending as little as we had to. That is where we learned how to paint chrome bumpers properly.

And trust us; even though the process seems tedious and time-consuming, if you follow the proper steps, it is as easy as driving a knife through butter.

How to Paint Chrome Bumpers

Usually, when people try to paint using chrome spray paint for rim and bumpers, the results are not always as expected. After just drying off, the paint can flake off and reveal the silver color. And this is pretty frustrating.

When the paint does flake off, the bumper has a higher chance of catching rust and corroding. For that reason, we have gone through multiple application processes to find out the right way. And we will describe the process in this segment.

Step 1: Preparing the Surface for Primer

First and foremost, you need to prepare the surface for it to accept the primer. And here, you need to go through these sub-steps:

Remove the Bumper

Instead of applying the primer on the bumper while it is on the vehicle, we recommend removing it. By detaching the bumper, you will make the whole process hassle-free and easy.

To remove the bumper, you will need the front screws and bolts first. And these will not be visible from the outside. You would need to open the hood and find them.

The rear bumper will mostly be attached by screws and bolts that are on the outside. So, there will be no need to open the trunk for that.

Wash the Bumper with Water and Soap

Before applying the primer, you must ensure that the surface is clean and does not have any loose debris on the top. And to ensure that, wash the surface with water and soap. That will eliminate the fingerprints, dust, and debris and make the bumper capable of accepting the primer.

Remove Rust from the Bumper If Necessary

As you know by now, chrome rusts pretty easily. And if your bumper is rusty, you need to remove the rust before planning to frame-paint or apply the primer on the whole thing.

Here, we would recommend using a solution that has baking soda and vinegar. Make sure that the solution has a thick consistency. Take a cloth or rag and apply the paste to the areas where there are rusts. Let the paste sit for around 5 minutes, and use steel wool to rub the whole thing off.

Sand the Bumper

Before applying the primer, it is a must to create a workable surface. And that would require sanding.

Use a dual-action sander or sandpaper to remove all of the imperfections off the surface. However, you would need to start with a coarser grit, such as 60 or 120.

Then, work your way towards the less coarse grit, such as 320 grit. That will offer a finer finish and make the surface ready for accepting the primer.

Use Grease Or Wax Remover to Wipe Down the Bumper

Next, you need to use grease or wax remover to eliminate any additional traces of debris and dirt. These removers will do a proper job of getting rid of grease, oil, and other contaminants. And use a clean rag to wipe the bumper thoroughly.

Step 2: Prime the Chrome Bumper

The next step would be to apply primer to the bumper. And for this, you need to follow these sub-steps:

Prepare the Work Area and Put on Safety Gear

Before attempting to apply primer on the bumpers, you must ensure the working area is well ventilated. The fumes from the paint and sprays are not suitable for your health. They can cause some significant damages if you breathe them in.

Additionally, wearing a respirator is a must. Also, wear eye protection goggles and gloves to protect your skin and eyes from harmful fumes.

Use the Self-etching Primer on the Bumper

Grab yourself a self-etching primer for this job. The reason we are recommending this specific primer is that it will grab hold of the metal properly. Cover the entire surface with this primer and make sure the coats are even. You might need to do up to three even coats.

Spray Regular Automotive Primer

After the self-etching primer dries up, you would have to use a regular automotive primer. This prime will help the paint to bond properly with the chrome. It will also strengthen the metal and offer protection from rust. So, we would recommend against skipping this step.

Here, you would need to apply the three even coats on the surface. Make sure that each of the coats dries up properly before you attempt to apply the next coat.

Sand the Primer

The next step would be to sand the primer. Ensure that the coats you have applied are adequately dried. Then, use fine sandpaper to sand the entire surface. This sanding will smooth out the surface. But do make sure you are not sanding too hard because that will scrape off the primer layers.

Wipe the Excess Residues off the Surface

When you have finished sanding the surface, use a clean cloth to wipe away any of the dust particles. You would not want a speck of dust to be on the bumper because they will affect the paint and hinder them from sticking to the surface.

Step 3: Paint the Bumper and Apply Finishing Touches

Now that the bumper is adequately primed, it would be time to apply the paint and carry out the finishing touches. And to do that, follow these sub-steps:

Spray the Paint by Utilizing Light and Even Coating Method

Apply even layers of paint on the bumper. You would need to apply up to four coats to get a good finish. Also, you would need to check on each of the coats after applying them.

Ensure there is no paint dripping and ensure they are adequately dried before moving onto the next layer.

To perfect the application, we would recommend practicing the light and even coating method beforehand. Practice the method on scrap metal while holding the gun 6 inches away from the metal piece. Train your hands by spraying back and forth. Also, practice spraying in even motions.

Apply Clear Coats on the Painted Bumper

Once you are fully satisfied with the paint, apply clear coats on the surface. Make sure that the layers of the paint are dried adequately before attempting to apply the clear coats.

Apply this in three to four coats and make sure that each of the layers is appropriately dried.

This clear coating will protect the paint from sun damages and other environmental damages. It will also ensure that the color does not chip or flake that easily.

Reattach the Bumper

Finally, you would need to reattach the bumper back into place. Place it on the location and properly attach the screws and bolts. Ensure that the screws and bolts are tightened adequately, or the bumper might fall off while driving.

Is Painting Chrome Bumpers Worth It?

The process is undoubtedly worth it, considering how little you have to spend on getting the materials and tools. However, the process is not that simple. You would have to go through multiple steps. And by considering that, we would say that it will be easier to purchase a steel bumper with a bare steel finish.

Final Words

Learning how to paint chrome bumpers is undoubtedly not an easy task. However, we hope that we were successful at making the process look easy through the steps we have mentioned.

Follow those steps correctly, and you should end up with an eye-catching and new-looking bumper at minimal costs.


I am Samantha, an automobile engineer and POD business owner. I am also a wife of Jason and a mother of three children, two of whom are twins. I am passionate about making a difference in the world and strive to be a role model for my children. I believe that hard work and dedication can lead to success, no matter what your circumstances may be. I have a passion for cars and enjoy working on them in my spare time. I am excited to be able to share my knowledge and experience with you. Stay connected !

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