Pitted, rusty chrome legs?

alisonAugust 31, 2007

This morning I picked up a lovely formica-topped old table in my neighborhood. (I seriously love trash day!) While the formica needs to be replaced, the corregated chrome "apron" is fine, and the legs have a love, curvy silhouette I love.

Unfortunately, there is some rust and pitting on the legs. Any suggestions on how to deal with this?


(I'm also curious about finding and cutting new formica, but that's another question for another post!)

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Oh, good! I'm glad somebody asked this question! Sorry that I don't have an answer for ya, but I, too, really want an answer to your question! LOL

    Bookmark   August 31, 2007 at 7:25PM
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No idea how to fix bad chrome BUT I wonder if an auto paint shop might be a good place to start. They deal with chrome on cars.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2007 at 9:17PM
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Hi, You didn't mention how bad the rust is, but we used to clean the chrome on those tables with regular old SOS pads. When the soap starts going away, use a new pad and keep it wet while you're working. This should clean up any area where there are pits. You can also use chrome polish. It will clean up pitted areas too, but is a little more work. Naval Jelly removes rust, but if there are patches of rust, the chrome will be gone in those areas. In a pinch, you can sand and paint the legs with chrome spray paint, or paint them a different finish or color with auto spray paint. That may be easier than trying to match the chrome finish. That paint color could be coordinated with the new top. If the chrome legs clean up nicely, protect them with car wax. If you like the shape of the table, but not the chrome, just paint the whole thing. Depending on the condition, it may be better to make it look completely different than to 'restore' it.
Formica is probably still widely available. Check the big stores, then the flooring stores. I'm guessing that there's a plywood 'base' under the formica. The formica gets glued to that plywood with contact cement. Router around the outside to give it a smooth edge and make it the same size as the plywood. There may be other flooring that would look good. Another option for the top could be that new 'garage floor finish'. It sort of has the look of the time when those tables were built and comes in a few colors. Don't know if it would work. Thick clear resin could also be used. You could put fun stuff or pictures in the table under the resin. Still another idea, cover the tabletop with vinyl. It's cleanable and can be changed easily.
You could check with auto body shops. Chrome is expensive, but could be an option. Hope that's not more than you ever wanted to know. Linda

    Bookmark   September 1, 2007 at 1:06AM
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No such thing as too much info, linda; thanks!

I was told, or read somewhere that one of the tricks to buff up chrome is to rub it with crumpled up aluminum foil. Who knew?

So I'll try that tonight. If that doesn't help I'm on to scrubbing it with the SOS pads. I'll check how easily I could remove the legs, and give a call round to autobody shops to price re-chroming the legs.

I have a suspicion that's more than I want to spend, but it's worth a call.

Thanks all!

    Bookmark   September 4, 2007 at 2:27PM
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When I looked at the legs, the rust was too extensive to make simply shining it up sufficient, so I didn't try the aluminum foil.

But I found Krylon Premium Chrome spray paint at Michael's and tried it out on another old metal table this morning. It's not exactly like chrome; it doesn't have quite the mirror finish, but it's acceptably close. (And much better than any of the other "chrome" or "metal" spray paint I've found! The trick is to spray it on really really thick, just short of where it begins to drip.)

So now I've got some loooong sessions with the steel wool, to get the legs as smooth as possible. (I hate steel wool, but I don't know what's better -- any suggestions?) And then -- it's on to the formica question!

As soon as I can figure out how to work my new camera phone, I'll post a picture.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2007 at 2:09PM
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I have no idea if they do this anymore ... but years ago when they made chrome bumpers on cars, you could get your bumper dipped in chrome to make it look like new. We had a place here in Milwaukee that used to do it but they switched to scrap metal when chrome bumpers went the way of the formica kitchen table. I have no idea if you could find a place to do it now.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2007 at 11:57PM
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Hi I have a similar situation. I have a chrome frame around a medicine cabinet in my bathroom that is pitted and rusty. OMG the sos pads really do work. They are very good at removing the rust and small pits. It looks so much better I probably won't have to paint the frame as I wasn't sure there were any other options. Thanks

    Bookmark   February 23, 2011 at 11:32AM
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lady_alicia Zone 5/6 PA

Another idea for wanting a more shiny effect would be the mirror paint, perhaps. I just purchased some to paint some textured glass pieces I removed from old windows (got the idea from other T2T members a while back). I went online to purchase it, but maybe Michael's or another craft store would carry it. I'll be posting a picture of my project when I'm done, but I'm thinking that may give everyone the chrome finish desired for their projects rather than just the silver paints out there.

Just a suggestion.... :)

    Bookmark   February 27, 2011 at 12:57AM
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Glad it worked out for you! I was going to suggest that if a smooth finish wasn't important to you, you could use textured metallic spray paint and if it doesn't come in a chrome finish, just spray it with any metal color for the texture and then finish with a coat of regular chrome spray.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2011 at 8:00PM
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This is such an interesting thread. I didn't know that mirror paint existed. I need some to finish a mosaic project with one of my fave textured glasses that dh broke.
I painted an old metal table I bought for a few dollars with copper and silver paint. I love it. Little boy who was staying with us painted his bike copper at the same time. It looked awesome.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2011 at 8:03AM
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lady_alicia Zone 5/6 PA

Concretenprimroses - The mirror paint shows how you can paint glass pieces, like a vase wth mirrored stripes. You probably would really like it for your mosaic project. It's worked well so far for my textured glass pieces. I just need to find frames for them, which will be a difficult feat because they're odd-shaped. I've used the copper paint and love it also. Amazing what paint can do! :)


    Bookmark   March 5, 2011 at 7:45AM
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