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Mod Dig 05-28-2009 01:13 PM

Chrome paint for aluminum?
Hi all,

I have some aluminum tubes I need to paint, and I'd like to use a chrome-like paint. However, I know aluminum is supposed to be difficult to paint, so what would you recommend if a chrome-like paint wouldn't work? I'd like a nice finish, but price and ease of doing the job is also a concern for me.

Let me know what you think, thanks!

David H.

RegeSullivan 05-28-2009 02:00 PM

Polished aluminum looks about on par with chrome when done right and will stay a long time if you paint it with a clear finish. Many mirrors are done this way. Just take a look at a sheet of aluminum foil. One side is bright the other dull.



huffanpuff 05-28-2009 02:23 PM

mod-dig, what are they being used for/what kind of tubes

Mod Dig 06-04-2009 04:52 PM

Yeah, I probably should have been more specific. I have 3 sections of 1 1/2 inch OD aluminum tubing. Two 7 foot pieces and one 6 foot piece, so the total is 20 feet.

What would be the best option for me whether to polish or paint?

The tubes I have are similar to these drum rack tubes: Originally I thought they were chrome plated, but maybe they're just polished? If so I imagine polishing these tubes would be cheaper!

Thank you!

RegeSullivan 06-05-2009 11:56 AM

They would polish up pretty quickly if you could figure out a way to spin them. I have done 1/2" copper and 1/2" brass using a drill and some polishing compound. They came out great and it only took me a couple of days to do 60 pieces ranging from 6" to 4' long. I started with 1200 grit wet and dry, then used 3 progressively finer grits of polishing compound. I finished with a clear spray lacquer so I would not have to polish again...

saggdevil 06-05-2009 12:47 PM

For starters, where the piping or tubing is being used may be a deciding factor. For exterior, oil base on aluminum doesn't peels. (Was done to my when exterior of house was painted). Apparently latex for aluminum is a little more flexible. I would check with an autobody repair shop as they work with paint on metal every day. There is a definite difference in the paints.

Mod Dig 06-05-2009 08:22 PM

Thanks for your replies!

Is this stuff good for aluminum?

It says: "There are many different types of metal each with its own properties. For Aluminium there is a specific primer available, however Metal Primer can also be used. Corroded metal should always be primed first using Metal Primer to prevent the spread of rust. For increased protection and durability we recommend the use of Metal Sealer over your top coat."

I don't want to spend a lot of time on this and polishing seems like it would take forever on 20 feet of tubing, so is that my best option?

Oh, and btw, the use for this is similar to the drum rack above. I'd like it to be resistant to damage, but I also don't want to spend a hell of a lot of money on this.

saggdevil 06-05-2009 09:48 PM

Well, I looked at the drum rack and still don't know what it is, lol :). But that appears to be polished aluminum or steel. Not sure what this thing is for, but I'd consider getting a sanding wheel and using it with a drill to polish it or start out with sandpaper that you can wrap the tubes with. Unless you've worked much with sand paper, realize there is a big difference in the grits. Start coarse and work up to finer for the smooth finish.

Not sure if you are wanting a paint or a plastic coating for these tubes, but you might also consider a rubberized coating (like some hand tools have - they've been dipped in a liquid coating that dries like rubber). This product is called "Color Guard" and it's made by the Loctite Corporation which is now owned by Permatex. This product started out in the industrial field and now is available through some hardware stores, etc. It comes in a variety of colors. It is a good product and I've used it myself. It is available in gallons, but quite expensive, Also available in quarts. If you are interested, check with an industrial supplier and you'll probably get your better price there. Or check it out

Actually, I just looked up up on line and you can get the color guard at at good prices....14.5 oz can for $10.00. Much less that it was some time back, how unsual, but it is a really good product. (I used to sell Loctite products - they're all good)

As far as using other paints on metal, keep in mind, you cannot paint metal under 60 degrees. It will not dry, cure or harden and you'll have a real mess on your hands. (my bro does auto/body work)

Like most things, time and expense involved plays a part in how we do our projects. So this project can involve a lot of both depending on which route you decide to take. But good luck....where there's a will, there's always a way.

Mod Dig 07-07-2009 05:19 PM

Thanks Saggdevil. I'm going to get started on this project, and at this point I'm inclined to polish the tubes provided it wouldn't affect the outer diameter in any noticeable way, since the clamps have to fit tubing 1 1/2 inches OD.

This guide looks pretty good: Any thoughts on it? I want to spend the least amount of money possible. I can afford to spend more time on it than money right now, but I don't want it to take forever. Also, how can I tell if it's anodized?


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