How to Paint Chrome Bumpers [Easy & Effective Steps]

Bored of having the same silver shiny chrome bumper? Or, want to fix your rusted chrome bumper? Well, painting over it might bring the desired look you wanted for your bumper. Painting chrome bumpers, however, is a bit different. Unlike regular metals, you just cannot paint over chrome directly. This will create flaking paint with a disappointed look.

how to paint chrome bumpers
Image by Lisa Johnson from Pixabay

Therefore, to cover you up with all details, we have come up with the article – how to paint chrome bumpers. Well, many are confused about the fact if chrome bumpers are paintable or not. For your information, to give a fresh look you can technically paint chrome bumpers. But it is a time-consuming and tough task since you can bring the perfect finish only when you are enough careful to complete the task.

Next Read: Pick Your Right Handheld Paint Sprayers

How to Paint Chrome Bumpers – Step by Step

To paint over chrome requires a special process. You cannot treat the material as regular metal. You may simply paint over chrome but after a certain time it will flake off revealing the underneath chrome. So, follow the process and get a custom-looking bumper that matches your vehicle.

First, Things You will Need:

  • Protection wear
  • Ventilation system
  • Screwdriver
  • Wrench
  • Water
  • Soap
  • Dry rags
  • Grease
  • Wax remover
  • Painter’s tape
  • Primer
  • Colors
  • Color coat

Step 1: Prepping the Chrome Bumper Surface

This is the first important process of painting a chrome bumper. Get the bumper prepared is not that easy. It is also an entire process. Now, to prepare the chrome bumper, do the following things.

  • Separate the Vehicle Bumper

Separating the bumper from the vehicle is a wise idea before you start painting on it. It will make the preparation and painting process easier. To separate the bumpers, loosen the bolts and screws with what they are attached to the vehicle. So, this way you can remove both front and rear bumpers of your vehicle.

  • Wash the Bumper

Second, it’s time to wash the chrome bumper. Use soap and water for washing purposes. There could be a lot of dirt, dust, and fingerprints on the bumper surface. So, washing it thoroughly is the only way. Otherwise, the paint will not result in a great finish on the dusty surface.

  • If the Bumper Is Rusted, Remove It

Chrome is prone to be rusted soon compared to other metal objects. So, you can also have a rusty bumper. If so, then getting the rust clear is highly recommended. To remove the rust, you can use several products including natural ones.

  1. For this, you can mix a thick paste of baking soda and vinegar. Apply the mixture to the rusty area and let it sit for up to 5 minutes. By this time, it will react with the rust particles and loosen them from the chrome bumper.
  2. If some rusts still pop up, apply the mixture again.
  3. Completing removing rust, wash the bumper again with soap and water.
  • Time to Sand the Bumper

For painting chrome bumpers, you need to make a proper paintable surface. Hence, sanding the chrome bumper is necessary. You can use either a dual-action sander or sandpaper for this purpose. Coarser sandpaper with a grit of 40 or 60 should be selected first. To remove scars, flaking, and deep spots, this sandpaper will help.

Again, to fix small scars, you can get a paper with 80 or 120-grit. Now, to get a finer finish, you can use a paper with a grit of 300-600. This will ensure a smooth surface for painting over.

  • Wipe the Chrome Bumper

When you are done sanding the bumper evenly, you need to wipe down the dust. You can also use wax remover and grease to clean off additional contaminants including oil, dirt, grease, and all. After cleaning with wax remover, dry the bumper wiping with a clean and dry rag.

  • Cover the Areas You Don’t Want to Paint

Lastly, cover up the places of the bumper where you do not want to paint. To come up with your customized design, you can cover the areas using a plastic or painter’s tip. Precisely seal the tape so that the edges are firmly pressed down.

Step 2: Prime the Chrome Bumper

  • Wear Safety Gear and Set Up Your Workstation

Ensure safety, and protection gear are a must since the painting process is not very healthy. The ventilated environment will be required as well. Otherwise, aerosol sprays and fumes can affect the respiratory system. Wear gloves, a mask, and a respirator or an exhaust ventilation system for ensuring safety precautions.

  • Spray Self-etching Primer on the Chrome Bumper

Using a self-etching primer, in this case, brings the expected result. It helps in better application of regular primer on the bumper later. Spray at least two to three coats of the self-etching primer evenly. But make sure you spray another coat when the previous one is dried completely.

Each coat won’t take more than three minutes to dry. But let the last coat on the chrome bumper sit for about four hours.

  • Spray Regular Primer on the Bumper

After applying self-etching primer, apply the regular automotive primer. It will hold a strong bond between the paint and chrome. It will also prevent rust and corrosion from the object. Apply two to three coats of this primer in the same previous ways.

However, drying time varies for different primers. So, check the time and let it sit according to that.

  • Sand Again the Surface

It is time to sand again but not on the chrome surface. When the primer is fully set on the bumper, you can sand it to make it smooth. Grab 400 to 600-grit fine sandpaper and sand carefully.

Tip: If you accidentally sand the chrome surface, apply the primer again in several coats. Then let it dry and sand again.

  • Wipe away the Dust

After sanding, wipe away the produced residue and dust from the surface. Be careful in this step also as there are chances of erasing the primer as well. you can use wax, grease, water, and anything like that to wipe it.

Step 3: Apply the Paint

  • Know and Practice the Spraying Technique

Now that we have come to the most crucial part, you better have some practice. Spraying a spray gun on a metal piece is a good idea for practicing. Make sure you are holding the spray gun 15.2 cm or 6 inches away from the metal surface.

Tip: In case you are using heavy paints, drips occur. If they occur use wet sandpaper of 2000-grit to sand them down gently.

  • Spray Paint on the Bumper

After enough practicing when you are confident enough, apply the spray gun on the bumper. Make a light and even layered coat of paint. It will require 3-4 even coats. Do not apply another coat until the previous one dries properly.

Step 4: Finishing and Final Attachment

  • Apply Clear Coats or Top Coats on the Bumper

This is for the finishing touch. Finish painting the bumper with your desired color, apply 2-3 layers of clear coats as well. Car clear coats are popular for this option. They help in preserving the actual color of the bumper protecting it from dirt, chemicals, sun, chipping, and other things.

  • Reattach the Chrome Bumper to the Vehicle

When it is properly and fully dry, attach the bumper part again to the vehicle. Tight all the nuts and screws accordingly. Finally, inspect your task.


  • Don’t forget to wear protection gears.
  • Do each step carefully without making it a mess.
  • Before painting, make sure the chrome bumper doesn’t have any holes in it.