What is an alternative finish to chrome wheels?

Chrome wheels are seen as less popular in certain parts of the country because the chrome finish does not hold up to the winter salts applied to roads during winter. Although chrome wheels are readily available and very popular in warmer parts of the country many consumers are wondering what alternatives they have to the chrome finish.

Having your wheels powder coated in matt, satin, or gloss black finish is a very popular alternative to a chrome finish because it will give your car a flashy appearance and has a much stronger adhesion to the substrate so you can drive in the winter and not worry about salt corrosion. We have also seen many customers have there wheels powder coated in colors like Porsche red, gun metal, “chrome” (a highly reflective silver powder coat), or matching the color of the wheels to the color of the car. Some customers will also request custom work like two tone colored wheel where the rim is, for example, black and the center spokes are white. Each of these options still give the car a flashy look and are much more durable than traditional chrome.

Polishing your wheels is another option. We have many people ask us about stripping all the old paint and polishing the aluminum underneath to a high – gloss “chrome like” shine. While this process is possible there are a couple of drawbacks. The main reason why we advise against this is because different alloys polish to different levels of luster. So you really do not know how shiny the finished product will be. Also, a polished finish will oxidize and require routine maintenance unless a clear coat is applied which alternately will dull the luster of the newly polished wheels.

A new method of coating called physical vapor disposition or “PVD” (also known as vacuum chrome) offers a very real and accurate looking chrome finish without actually chroming. A thin layer of metal or alloy coating is applied to a gloss black base coated wheel and the reflectivity is amazingly like chrome. This process can also be used to create a black chrome look. What really separates this process from chrome is the ability to topcoat the finish without loosing the luster and it will hold up much better in winter salts than a chrome wheel.

If you already have chrome wheels that are peeling your can find places to re-chrome your wheels that do a very good job depending on what you want to spend. The draw back is that the chrome finish can peel again just as the original chrome finish peeled.

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