Chrome is a hard, decorative finish that is used for a wide range of applications, from household accessories to car parts such as wheels and the bumpers on classic cars. Over time, chrome finishes can become pitted and damaged, particularly if the chrome is not cared for adequately. It may become desirable at some point to remove the chrome finish on a particular object so that it can be repainted or refinished for an improved look.
Though chrome is a hard, shiny surface, it is actually a very thin coating that is applied on top of a metal surface. There are a few ways to remove a chrome finish. Some industrial companies specialize in chemically stripping chrome from wheels and other items. Chrome finishes can also be removed by sanding the chrome off, either with a high speed sanding machine or by hand with sandpaper. Removing chrome by hand sanding it off is the best way to avoid damaging the surface that the chrome covers.
In order to remove a chrome finish, you will need 220-grit, 320-grit and 1,200-grit sandpaper. You will also need some type of abrasive chrome polish, rags and steel wool. Chrome dust can be harmful if inhaled, so it is important to wear lung protection in the form of a face mask. It is also recommended that you have eye and hand protection available during the process of sanding off chrome.
To remove the chrome, first place a generous amount of the polish on the rag. Wipe the polish onto the entire surface of the chrome. Sand the chrome with the 220-grit sandpaper. The rough sandpaper should remove the majority of the chrome. Move up to the 300-grit sandpaper and then the 1,200-grit sandpaper, applying more polish as you continue sanding. Sand the surface until all of the chrome is stripped off. Polish the part with the steel wool to eliminate any fine scratches. Wipe the part down with a clean, dry rag. Go back and sand off any remaining chrome.
Chroming is an involved, somewhat expensive procedure. Before removing chrome plating from something, be sure that you won't regret stripping it. In order to get the same look that the part had with the chrome, it will have to be sent to a plater to be rechromed. Once the chrome is stripped, prime or paint the object so that the surface does not become rusted or pitted.