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How to refinish chrome bathroom fixtures

Updated February 21, 2017

Applying a finish to raw, unpainted, chrome bathroom plumbing and lighting fixtures can be a difficult process for the typical do-it-yourselfer. Because chrome is hard and nonporous, an etching primer must be applied to abrade the surface before any paint will stick. Fortunately, if you need to refinish chrome bathroom fixtures, it means that an old coat of paint has already been applied at some point. This makes the process much easier because the old coat acts as a great bonding agent for the fresh coat of paint.

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  1. Prevent paint-over spray from affecting the countertops and sink reservoir by covering them with masking paper. Cover the mirror behind the faucets with masking paper as well. Seal the edges of the paper with painter's tape.

  2. Scrape away corrosion from the faucets, using a wire brush. Skip this step if the faucets are in good condition.

  3. Smooth any chipping paint, using sandpaper.

  4. Dampen a rag with white spirit and wipe the surface of the faucets. Allow a few minutes for the spirits to evaporate.

  5. Spray a coat of oil-based spray paint onto the faucets. Do not apply in a steady stream. Apply in intermittent, brief bursts to prevent runs. Do not try to cover the faucets in one coat. Apply only a light coat.

  6. Allow the faucets to dry for two hours. Turn the handles every 30 minutes during the drying process. Apply additional coats to the faucets as necessary.

  7. Tip

    You should paint light fixtures in the same manner as you did the plumbing fixtures, except you must turn off the power at the circuit breaker and allow the light bulbs to cool before you begin to work.


    Never attempt to paint raw, chrome without applying an etching primer first or you will have no chance at paint adhesion.

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Things You'll Need

  • Blue painter's tape
  • Masking paper
  • Wire brush
  • 120-grit sandpaper
  • White spirit
  • Rags
  • Tinted spray etching primer
  • Oil-based spray paint
  • Screwdriver
  • Fabric dust sheet

About the Author

Ryan Lawrence is a freelance writer based in Boulder, Colorado. He has been writing professionally since 1999. He has 10 years of experience as a professional painting contractor. Lawrence writes for High Class Blogs and Yodle. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism and public relations with a minor in history from the University of Oklahoma.

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