Can You Paint Chrome Running Boards?

You’re staring at your chrome running boards, and you start to wonder if you should leave them as chrome or if you should paint them. Then the thought hits you: is it even possible to paint them if you wanted to do so?

You can paint chrome running boards. As long as you have the proper tools, materials, and know-how, it shouldn’t take you longer than a day to complete this project. It’s one you should be able to do by yourself, but if you’re unsure of your abilities, you could always hire a professional.

Keep reading to learn more about what you’ll need to paint your chrome running boards. I’ll also give you a step-by-step guide on how to do it. You don’t want to miss that! 

Pickup Truck Wheels and Tires Closeup Photo. Heavy Duty Truck Wheels

Your Tools and Materials

To complete this job, you must have the following tools and materials ready when you start your project. This way, the job goes smoothly, and you are not constantly running to the store for what you need.

  • You will need a rust remover if you have any rust showing anywhere on your running boards. Scrutinize them before you start this project to ascertain if you will need this item.
  • Acetone is the cleaner of choice for this job. You do not want to use water, especially if you have rust on your running boards.
  • You will need scuffing pads to rough up the chrome before you spray the running boards with the self-etching primer. Roughing the chrome will ensure that the primer adheres well to the running boards.
  • A self-etching primer will be the base coat. It will help your paint to stick to your running boards better.
  • The paint you will be using as your topcoat. Make your selection carefully. You will need paint that will adhere to metal well and hold up to the constant exposure to the elements.
  • Hand tools will be necessary to remove the running boards from your vehicle. Check to ensure you don’t need anything other than a cordless drill.
  • You will also need personal protective equipment. This equipment includes chemical-resistant gloves, anti-fog goggles, and a valved respirator.

After using the scuffing pads, you may consider canned air or an air compressor to blow off the running boards. Remember to complete this project in a well-ventilated area. You will be using chemicals, and fresh air circulation is a must.

Your Paint Selection Is a Personal Choice

While the color you choose is personal, the type of paint you use will have to adhere to metal. 

You may want one designed for high temperatures. A good one for this project is Rust-Oleum’s High Heat Spray Paint with a flat black finish at If you want a glossy finish, you may want the Rust-oleum high heat clear gloss as a final topcoat. Another choice would be to use a bed liner spray such as Herculiner.

Now that you have your tools and materials, you are ready to paint those running boards. These steps will show you the process from start to finish.

If you’re having a hard time figuring out what type of paint to use, I recommend reading my guide on choosing the best paint for your running boards. [Here’s What Kind of Paint You Need for Running Boards]

The Step-by-Step Process For Painting Your Chrome Running Boards

  1. The first step is to take the running boards off your vehicle. Remember how they are attached to your car so you can reattach them successfully. You may even want to take a few before pictures at this point in the process.
  2. Once your running boards are off the vehicle, you will want to take all non-chrome parts off if possible. Doing this will keep the chemicals and the paint from getting on them unnecessarily.
  3. Inspect the metal portion of your running boards for any rust. If you spot any, you will want to use the rust remover at this stage. Make sure you are wearing goggles, a respirator, and chemical-resistant gloves. You want to stay as safe and alert as possible.
  4. You will want to wipe the surface of the chrome clean with acetone once you have removed the rust. The acetone will get dirt, oil, or grease off your running boards. The acetone also dries quickly, so you won’t have to wait long to get to the next step.
  5. With the acetone dried, you will want to rub the chrome running board pieces down with a scuffing pad. Roughing the chrome will help the self-etching primer adhere to the chrome better.
  6. If there appears to be excessive dust settling on the running boards, you may want to blow them off using an air compressor or canned air. You do not want trapped dust to cause the primer or the paint not to stick to the running boards.
  7. This is where the fun begins with this project. Start priming your running boards with the self-etching primer. You will want two coats to ensure the pieces coat evenly.
  8. Once the primer has dried, you can start applying your paint. Depending on the product(s) selected, you may want to do three coats of your paint. Use quick, broad strokes and avoid spraying in one spot for too long. You do not want runs in your paint job.
  9. While waiting for your paint to dry, you may want to look over your non-metal running board pieces and give them a quick cleaning. This will ensure they’re ready to be reattached once the paint is dry.
  10. Once everything is dry, you can reattach the running boards to your vehicle. Then you can take a few after pictures so you can share the experience with friends and family.
Blank metal can isolated on white background


Painting your chrome running boards may seem like a daunting task only a professional should undertake. However, by following these simple steps and ensuring you have all your materials on hand, you can tackle this job yourself in a day. 

Remember to keep your area properly ventilated and wear your protective gear. Painting your chrome running boards can be a great project to do with an older teenager. It is a memory-worthy do-it-yourself project.