Can You Paint Chrome Running Boards?

You can add a running board to your vehicle for functional roles, aesthetic purposes, or a little bit of both. So, you may wonder if it is possible to paint chrome running boards. We asked the experts, and these are their thoughts.

You can paint chrome running boards. However, you must do adequate preparatory work to create a surface on which the paint can bond. Moreover, you need to choose an ideal paint, preferably acrylic or latex paint, to increase the task's success rate.

There is a lot to learn about painting chrome running boards. Please keep reading to discover how you can go about this and other factors relating to the running board. Without further ado, let's get right in.

suv-car-stuck-sands-off-road running board, Can You Paint Chrome Running Boards?

Painting a Chrome Running Board

Although the chrome covering protects the running board from rusting, it may still rust if its base metal begins to rust or the chrome plating becomes damaged.

You may consider painting the chrome running board to keep it from rusting. You can also decide to paint the chrome running board for aesthetic purposes, either by giving it a similar color to that of the automobile or a contrasting one.


The smooth finish on chrome running boards makes painting the chrome running board pretty challenging. However, the task is still doable. You need to pick the right paint and adequately prepare the chrome surface before painting to ensure the paint sticks.

Here is a step-by-step guide.

1. Gather the Necessary Supplies

You will need protective clothing, sandpaper, a sander, cleaning materials, and painting supplies. You can also get painter's tape or plastic worksheets to protect the floor in your working area from paint damage. Buy paint suitable for metallic surfaces - latex or acrylic would work well.

Gathering the paraphernalia you need before starting the exercise will ensure that you don't have to take unnecessary breaks to look for supplies.

We know that painting a chrome running board is quite tedious. Therefore, it is advantageous to take a systematic approach and avoid interruptions to the best of your ability.

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2. Dress Appropriately

Chrome running boards are covered with a layer of chromium which can irritate your eyes, skin, throat and nose. Furthermore, inhaling the primer can trigger allergic reactions or cause you to display symptoms similar to asthma or influenza.

It is prudent to wear the correct gear to protect your health. Wear neoprene, PVC, or rubber gloves to protect your hands from corrosive chemicals. You will also need to wear closed shoes to protect your feet.

Shield your skin from irritation by wearing a long-sleeved shirt and long pants. Please pick your work clothes carefully since they can get permanent stains during painting.

You can use goggles or a face shield to keep your eyes safe. The goggles form a tight film around the eyes, thus protecting the soft eye tissues from flying debris during sanding. Additionally, they protect against primer and paint splashes.

Protect your respiratory tract and internal tissues from irritation using a suitable face mask. Your best bet is to buy a respirator that conforms to the OSHA stipulations.

Although N-95 masks are typical, they only protect from dust particles during sanding but are inadequate for protecting against the primer chemicals. Using an air-purifying respirator is best because it protects against fumes.

This set of goggles and respirator is ideal for a painting job. Check it out on Amazon.

3. Choose an Ideal Working Area

Please note that it is best to carry out the exercise in a well-aerated space to minimize the possibility of inhaling poisonous substances. For this reason, please open the garage doors to increase air circulation or work from outside.

Also, ensure that the primer and paint remain closed when you are not using them to minimize your exposure to these hazardous substances.

4. Wash the Running Board

Begin by washing the chrome running board with water and a detergent. You want to eliminate all the dirt before sanding to avoid contaminating the metal with dirt particles.

Scrub and rinse thoroughly to get rid of all the dirt. Consider using a toothbrush to scrub the nooks on the running board.

Use a dry cloth to wipe the running board surface, then let it air dry for a few minutes. You will then need to inspect whether there are any persistent stains. If you purged all the dirt, you can start sanding.

5. Scour the Chrome Running Board

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Put on your PPE in preparation for sanding. Next, use 160-grit sandpaper to roughen the chrome surface for better paint adherence. Apply equal time and pressure on each spot to get an even result.

Use 320-grit sandpaper to eliminate any scratches that the 160-grit sandpaper creates. Work in circular motions until the running board's surface becomes dull and scratch-free. Once done, use a dry piece of cloth to wipe the dust.

Hammering out unwanted bends on the running board before painting is prudent to avoid damaging the paint. You can also use welding putty to repair any cracks on the running board.

6. Paint the Running Board

Begin by applying a primer. Use a two-part epoxy primer - it offers the best bonding level for metal painting. In addition, it is waterproof and resists corrosion.

You can use a spray gun, a roller, or a brush to apply the primer. If you opt for the spray gun, maintain a one-foot distance between the spray gun and the running board. It is also wise to shield the surfaces you do not intend to paint using plastic worksheets.

Leave the primer to dry for about 24 hours, then apply a second layer. Please note that the time it takes for the primer to dry is contingent on your working area's temperature and humidity levels. So, the primer can take longer to dry if you live in humid regions.

You may need to sand the rolling board lightly before painting. Work carefully to avoid scouring the primer you've applied. Once you wipe off the dust using a dry cloth, the rolling board is ready for painting.

The painting follows a similar procedure to that used when applying a primer. You may need to apply two or three layers to achieve the desired paint color. Ensure that you allocate adequate time intervals between each coat to allow it to dry correctly.

You can also add a sealant to protect the paint from chipping. Additionally, applying the sealant can help you achieve a flat or glossy finish.

7. Clean Your Tools

Clean the spray gun, roller, or brushes before storing them. Removing the paint can be very difficult if it dries on them. The worst-case scenario is that these tools may not be usable in the future.

Store the paint and primer in a cool, dry, and well-aerated place. Further, ensure that you use airtight containers for storage to ensure that your supplies will be available and usable for your next painting job.

The primer can evaporate quickly and release harmful fumes into the air if you leave it open. On the other hand, paint typically forms a thickened layer on the top when it comes into contact with air.

What is the Significance of a Running Board?

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Running boards offer a comfortable and safe way to climb in or out of the automobile. They come in handy when children, elderly or short passengers are in the car.

These boards also shield your vehicle from road debris that can damage it since they block some of the debris. So, they protect the automobile from scratches or other damage that the debris would otherwise inflict on doors, windows, and side panels.

Passengers can also use the running board to wipe off the mud before they enter the car, thus reducing the workload when washing the car.

Their acting as a mudguard is especially useful since the rolling boards are often installed in vehicles fit for the off-road experience because they have more ground clearance.

Besides being functional, the running board is a stylish addition to your car. They give your vehicle a more streamlined look from the side.

Remember to keep them clean and regularly inspect them for damage to avoid accidents as passengers enter or climb out of the car. Also, install a running board with a weight limit suitable for your needs.

Wrapping Up

suv-car-stuck-sands-off-road running board, Can You Paint Chrome Running Boards?

You do not have to retain chrome running boards in their original color. Also, the running board is not doomed to remain dull once it loses its luster.

Block off adequate time on your calendar, gather your supplies and paint the running board. We hope this post comes in handy during the exercise. Happy painting!

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