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Can You Paint Over A Chrome Grille?

It's common for vehicles to have chrome on exterior parts such as the bumper, side mirrors, and grille. While some love the way chrome grilles look, others would rather go without it. If you are the latter, let's take a look to see if painting over a chrome grille is an option.

You can paint over a chrome grille, but you need to prep the surface and use the right type of paint. Follow the steps below to paint over a chrome grille:

  1. Remove the chrome grille.
  2. Spray the grille with water.
  3. Apply scuffing paste onto a grey scuff pad.
  4. Scrub the chrome grille with the grey scuff pad.
  5. Use a 3m sanding sponge to scuff the surface.
  6. Use a wax and grease remover and wipe off the scuffing paste.
  7. Spray on adhesion promoter to the chrome grille.
  8. Wait ten minutes.
  9. Next, apply two coats of etch primer to the surface.
  10. Apply a base coat of paint.
  11. Apply a clear coat.
  12. Let the surface dry, and replace the chrome grille.

As you can see, it's possible to paint over a chrome grille, but it takes patience and time to do so. That's why in this article, we will walk you through each step to ensure your chrome grille is painted correctly. In addition, we will answer other frequently asked questions about chrome automotive parts, so read on!

How Do You Paint Over A Chrome Grille?

Over time, a chrome grille can crack and peel, leaving your vehicle looking worn and used. Whether this is an issue you want to fix or want to switch up the look of your vehicle, painting over a chrome grille is an option.

You can paint over your vehicle's chrome grill in your garage, but it's important to know that it takes time and patience to do the project successfully. If you don't do the necessary prep work or the right paint products, your vehicle may end up looking worse than it did before.

Therefore if you think painting a chrome grille isn't for you, then there are other options. The first option is going to a professional to have the chrome grille painted. The other option is to buy a new grille in a different color.

While these are more convenient options, they will be more expensive after reading how the steps to painting a chrome grille, weigh the pros and cons to decide which option is best for you.

With that said, let's take a look at how to properly paint a chrome grille. Don't forget to take before and after pictures to show your friends!

Compact white executive car, large chrome grille. Modern white car.

Remove The Chrome Grille

The first step is to remove the chrome grille from your vehicle. We recommend this route because if you don't, you risk spraying paint onto your vehicle paint or into your engine bay.

Removing the grille will vary depending on the year, make, and model of your vehicle. Generally, there are clips that hold the grille in place. If you are uncomfortable removing the grille, watch a YouTube video on your specific vehicle to ensure you do it correctly.

The other option is to tape around the grille before painting. You should also place something behind the grille to mitigate the risk of paint getting into the engine bay. Newspaper or a thin piece of cardboard will work.

Prep The Surface

Now that the grille is removed or taped up, it's time to prep the surface.

Start by filling a spray bottle with water and spraying the entire surface. This will remove any dirt from the surface.

However, if your vehicle has splattered bugs or other debris on it, then we recommend doing a deep clean with water and soap first.

If this is the case, then deep clean the grille, rinse it and dry it. Then reapply water to the grille.

Apply Scuffing Paste With Scuffing Pad

With the grille wet, put scuffing paste onto a grey scuffing pad. Use the grey scuffing pad to apply the paste in a circular motion. This will light scuff the surface so the paint can stick and will also clean the surface.

Use A 3m Sanding Sponge

Once the paste is applied, take a 3m sanding sponge to further scuff the surface. 3m sanding sponges are great to use for this project as they can hit every inch of the chrome grill.

Apply Wax And Grease Remover

Next, we need to use a wax and grease remover to get the grille ready for primer. Spray the wax and grease remove onto the entire surface and wipe off using a clean microfiber cloth.

Apply Adhesion Promoter

Now it's time to apply an adhesion promoter to the chrome grille. An adhesion promoter is similar to a clear primer that will help the paint stick to the grill.

Wait ten minutes before moving on to the next step.

Apply Etch Primer

After ten minutes have passed, you can apply your etch primer. During this step, it's nice to have a spray gun, but if you don't use etch primer in a spray can. Be careful when applying the etch prime to ensure you get an even coat.

Wait 15-30 minutes or so before adding the second coat. Ensure that the second coat of etch primer is completely dry before going to the next step.

Close up of an Audi Prologue Allroad concept luxury coupe and estate car

Apply Paint

Now the fun part is applying coats of paint to the chrome grille! Be sure to use paint that is meant for painting chrome grilles.

If you are unsure what paint to use, be sure to talk to an automotive specialist for advice. Rust-Oleum makes several paint products mean for automotive grilles to help you get the job done.

Apply 2-3 coats of paint, waiting 10 minutes between each coat.

Apply Clear Coat

Once your paint has dried, it's time to apply a clear coat. Keep in mind that depending on the paint you use, you may not need to apply a clear coat. Again, be sure to check whether or not the type of paint you use requires a clear coat.

Typically, two coats of clear coat are enough to protect the paint. Typically, it's best to wait 3 hours or overnight for the clear coat to dry. After the clear coat has dried, you are ready to put on your new grille!

Reassemble The Grille

Finally, it's time to put your new grille onto your vehicle. Take your time when reinstalling the grille to ensure it is secure and won't fall off while you are driving.

Will Paint Peel Off Chrome?

If you don't do the necessary prep work, it is likely the paint will peel or chip off. While it seems tedious, it's vital to follow the steps above for a long-lasting paint job.

Chrome is a slippery surface, and paint will not stick to it if it's applied without being sanded. Furthermore, an adhesion promoter gives the paint something to stick to. This way you won't have streaks of paint coming off of your chrome grille.

There is also a risk of rust forming if you don't prep the surface correctly. This is because water can seep onto the surface and oxidize it. If this happens, your chrome grille will be ruined and will need to be repaired or replaced.

How Much Does A New Vehicle Grille Cost?

Nissan Navara Pro-4X on display at Thailand International Motor Show 2021, Can You Paint Over A Chrome Grille?

If you don't feel comfortable painting your chrome grille, you may consider buying a new grille instead. On average, you can expect to pay anywhere from $100 to over $500 for a new grille.

The cost varies widely depending on the year, make, and model of your vehicle. The price can also be higher if you buy a custom grille.

It's best to shop around before buying a new grille. You might find that it makes more sense to paint the grille yourself.

Can Chrome Be Plasti-Dipped?

A new red 2023 Honda HR-V RS on display at the Philippine International Motor Show.

Plasti-dip is a rubber spray coating that works similarly to paint. However, you can peel the plasti-dip off if you ever want to go back to the chrome look.

You can plasti-dip your chrome grille, but you still need to take the time to prep it properly. Plast-dip also doesn't last as long as a paint job will, so over time, you may need to remove it even if you don't want to.

Before using plasti-dip to change the look of your chrome grille, do your own research to decide if it's the best option for you.

Final Thoughts

Nissan Navara Pro-4X on display at Thailand International Motor Show 2021

If your chrome grille is worn or you want a new look, then painting it is an inexpensive option. Just be sure to take your time to do the prep work, so your paint lasts.

By following the tips and tricks in this article, you will have a new-looking grille that will last for years. 

Made it to the end? Here are other articles you might find helpful:

How To Remove Chrome From A Plastic Grille?

How to Remove Scratches from Chrome [Bumper, Rims, and More!]

How To Remove A Ford Emblem From The Grille