One of the more common questions we receive here at Advanced Plating is “do you restore aluminum trim?” While the answer is a resounding yes, it is a tricky question that is not so black and white. While we cannot re-anodize the trim to the factory correct look, we can straighten and polish it to better than new condition. The only problem that occurs with this is that no matter how bright we polish the aluminum it will eventually have a dull look once again. So you will either need to clear coat it or find someone who can anodize it for you after the prep work has been done.
While shooting a clear coat on it may sound like a breeze, adhesion can be an issue as well as getting a smooth finish that doesn’t appear to have been sprayed. This may lead you to determine that “ok having it re-anodized is the way to go.” Nevertheless, therein lies yet another issue. Aluminum is a naturally porous material. Once you strip the old anodizing, straighten it, sand it down, and buff it out bright, you have enlarged or opened the pores of the metal and helped expose dead metal. Although this will be virtually unnoticeable once it has been buffed out bright, it will stand out like a sore thumb after it has been anodized. The simplest way to describe it is, when you look at the trim you will see white spots or areas that look speckled. You will almost be lead to believe that something must have got on it during the anodizing process, but the simple fact remains that you are looking at the pores or even worse dead metal.
So what option does this really leave you? CHROME! “You mean you can chrome plate aluminum trim?” You bet we can. The advantages to chrome plating old aluminum trim far outweighs the other options. Granted, if you want an OEM correct look this will not be the way to go, but if you’re looking to upgrade or just improve the car you are building or restoring this is the perfect solution.
Besides the obvious advantage of not having that dull anodized look, when you choose to chrome plate aluminum trim this allows us to make the trim even more wave free and straighter than if we were just polishing it out or prepping it for a coating. Plus, if you have chrome plated bumpers and various pot metal pieces on the car, this can tie the whole look together with the unified look of chrome. We can even chrome plate any stainless steel trim that your car has on it too. Here is a look at how this whole process is done on aluminum trim.